The next time you’re craving a slice of Melbourne living, take a gander down to 8 Mohamed Sultan Road. A stone’s throw from the ritzier side of Robertson Quay, Nickeldime Alley takes a small space in the River Valley neighborhood, and transforms it into a cozy, art-filled hangout reminiscent of the grungy cafe scene in Melbourne.
Presented by Hidden Door Concepts, the bar marries the hearty food of Aussie brunch menus with Melbourne’s casual, pub-style dining. Chief Executive Chef Tim Ashwood himself hails from Australia, and enlists his background in fine dining to reinterpret comfort pub food. Think perfectly fried Scotch Eggs ($6) and Mac & Cheese ($8), both spiked with hints of alcohol, for starters; while signature mains like the Croque Madame ($18) and Confit Duck Waffle ($25)—tender duck meat and cheese waffles drenched in maple syrup—steal the show. Chef Ashwood formerly stinted at the Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris’ Hotel Plaza Athenee, hence the French influences.
A big draw at Nickeldime is the 16 international craft beers on tap, constantly rotated for the seasoned hophead. The bar’s partners include some of the top breweries around the world, including Heart of Darkness Brewery from Saigon and Byron Bay’s own Stone & Wood. Must-tries include the easy-drinking Green Coast Lager ($15) from Stone & Wood and Coastin Session IPA ($14) from Tuatara; or Director’s Cacao Porter ($15) from Heart of Darkness, a strong but friendly porter with yummy dark chocolate notes.
But it’s the effortless vibe that will draw you in for a pint or two. On exposed brick walls are graffiti artworks done in collaboration with local artists—that instantly recall Melbourne’s famed graffiti laneways—and which pair well with industrial cement floors and mood lighting for a consistent, well-worn aesthetic. Take your drink indoors or on the sheltered alfresco, which will occasionally host live game screenings for soccer and rugby fans. Good vibes all around, mate.