Written for Broadsheet

Good friends often bypass your front door. They know about the side door that’s always open, or the back gate that’s never locked. The concept of Kew’s new wine bar, Flatiron Side Door, was born from this idea.

“We want people to feel like they’re sitting on their best friend’s couch,” says Emma Bangay, who co-owns the bar with her husband Ben.

Ben, a production designer who has a background in furniture design and architecture, hand carved the bar, welded each door and window, designed and planted the garden and constructed the venue’s marble tables.

“Ben very much taps into the imperfections,” Emma says. “When you’ve got beautiful imperfections you feel very comfortable, you feel like when you’re at home.

“The hands-on build allowed him to [create] a few rough edges … I think that’s what gives it charm.”

The wine list offers a mix of local and international wines, and cocktails will rotate regularly, infused with herbs from the Side Door garden. The list has been curated with the help of Stu Moss of the Rochester Hotel.

During the two-year build, Ben spent time visiting wineries and building relationships with the makers to be able “to serve wine and tell the entire story,” Emma says. “He knows these growers, he’s visited the vineyards and he’s often been to the vine.”

Large statement artworks by Melbourne-based artist Robert Doble line the walls inside.

The courtyard garden is lined with magnolias, and as night falls, candlelight and a pink glow from the LED-lit bar creates a cosy and comfortable atmosphere, like you’re in a friend’s stylish backyard for a few drinks. On that note, dogs are welcome here.

The food line-up is simple, with charcuterie and cheese boards, and five pizzas. The pizza can be taken away, as can bottles of wine.

As for the playlist, you might get Frankie Knuckles one night, and Teddy Pendergrass or French ’70s radio the next. “At the moment we’re listening to a bit of the Harpoons.

The building is also home to a clothing and homewares store owned by Emma’s fashion-designer sisters. The shop, which stocks their namesake label Flatiron, is separated from the bar internally by a glass door. You’ll also find local labels such as Neuw Denim, Frances Hendrie and Organic Crew, and candles by Ben’s brother, and well-known landscape designer, Paul Bangay.

At the end of May, Flatiron Side Door will introduce Flat Chat, a monthly fireside chat with inspirational speakers – a concept that Emma and her sisters have wanted to bring to life for a long time. The first of the series will feature founder of Grace Papers Prue Gilbert.

Flatiron Side Door
72 Willsmere Road, Kew

Hours:
Thu to Fri 3pm–late
Sat and Sun 1pm–late

flatironmelbourne.com.au/side-door

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