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Arlechin

The Grossi family have been slowly spreading out from their iconic flagship, Grossi Florentino. First, by occupying their eastern neighbour with Ombra Samuli Bar, then by making use of a long-held space across the rear lane to launch a classically hidden Melbourne bolthole, Arlechin, servicing the needs of those that favour the darker hours. And although the front door is one that you will probably walk past, before realising that you just passed it, the lane was considerably less navigable before a collaboration with the Grossi Group and the council saw the sea of bins parted to be replaced with curated art works and a zigzag of fairy lights to soften the mood.

Once inside, there is an almost conspiratorial feel, with a cork-lined ceiling arching over the compact and moodily lit space. A parquetry floor contributes further to a distinctly European feel, evoking crafts of old, but blackened steel fixtures and sparkling mirrors reflecting diamonds of light give it a clear gloss of modernity, too. The room is all seated at stool height, with the bottles on the well-stocked backbar glowing jewel-like in the backlighting.

The wine list runs to 100 offerings, with an ever-changing list of pouring wines. The mantra here is drinkability, with the overarching philosophy based around listing wines that give pleasure, without any attendant dogma. It’s a simple approach, and a pretty sound one. Cocktails also play an important role at Arlechin, with 18 formally documented, though seasonally changing, and a human resource bank of the classics always on hand.

The menu is pitched towards the snack end of the equation, with a playful but quintessentially Italian tilt. And given that the bolognese jaffle and midnight spaghetti, Grossi’s take on aglio e olio, are the most popular menu items might just point to the target audience. With their motto, “where food, drink and mischief meet,” leaving no doubt as to the direction.