Probably one of my greatest Melbourne discoveries to date happened by accident.
This particular Saturday night, Jude and I had our friend Dan visiting us from Adelaide. We were trolling Chapel Street looking for somewhere to get a quick bite to eat, before trying (and failing) to get into The Emerson.
It was the prime dinner-eating time of 7:30pm, so we were basically fat out of luck. We’d already been turned away from the Parlour Diner, with their four-day wait time, when Dan walked into the humble-looking, tiny American sandwich bar Boston Sub. He insisted that he wanted a meal of meat and bread.
I sat there staring, unable to hide my displeasure, at the menu of greasy, meat-laden subs and the dubious surrounds of this dodgy take-away fast food, hole-in-the-wall when the best of Chapel Street was at our feet. That was when the guy behind the counter piped up.
“Do you know about our secret bar?” he asked. Secret bar? My ears pricked up. “It’s just through the freezer door.”
At those words, Dan and Jude were already around the side of the counter, heaving open the industrial freezer door that the guy had pointed to and were disappearing behind it. All I could do was follow and hope that it wasn’t some elaborate mugging attempt.
Behind the freezer door
Fortunately there weren’t any muggers lying in wait nor was the temperature below zero (the other fear running through my head. What? My coat was at home and we were walking into what looked like a freezer). Instead we found ourselves in the speakeasy-style cocktail bar Jungle Boy. This dimly-lit, jungle-like bar, that’s accessed through a freezer door on the Windsor-end of Chapel Street, is a hipster’s wet dream.
Sitting here in what could be someone’s tropical-themed outdoors courtyard you’re oblivious to the bustling goings-on beyond the freezer door as copious cocktails are poured in tiki mugs.
Since our little discovery, it’s been our go-to trick that never gets old, dragging EVERY unsuspecting visitor we’ve had to Melbourne to this unassuming place under the false pretence of craving a sub. At which we’re often met by looks of horror because A) we’re taking our Adelaide food snob friends to a dodgy-looking sandwich joint. B) Most of the time we’ve just devoured a huge meal and the thought of still being hungry makes them want to hurl their $25 Prahran-taxed schnitzel onto the pavement.
Boston Sub’s poutines and subs are man-food
Personally, I hate the food at Boston Sub. It’s the stuff of my worst nightmares. Lots of oil, white bread, beef/pork/lamb and fries topped with gravy and cheese. I only ate half of the roasted veg with butter sauce sub I ordered as the excess oil was starting to make my stomach churn.
But it must be dude food because Jude and Dan were both having an orgasm over their triple-meat sub, and happily finished off my leftovers despite complaining about its lack of meat.
Another time I’ve been here, Boston Sub has catastrophically run out of buns. As an alternative they offered up a bowl of various meats topped with extra cheese for everyone to dig into (this delight can be ordered off the menu, going by the name of a ‘Jabba the Hut poutine’). To which the males in the group squealed with delight and I went running in the opposite direction through the freezer door.
Finally, on my most recent visitation, I had planned ahead and pre-eaten. Jude ordered his ‘Mega Death sub’ that he’d been dreaming about all day. Whilst he was struggling to breathe between his artery-clogging mouthfuls, with grease dripping down his chin, he asked if I wanted a bite, unable to believe that I wasn’t going to enjoy something that he clearly couldn’t inhale fast enough. In the spirit of being adventurous, I took a bite. I then had to contemplate my options because it was the nastiest thing I’d ever eaten. Either I could spit the greasy meat explosion across the table or block my nose, swallow and wash it down with a slug of my cocktail. If I wasn’t in public it would have been sliding down the brick-exposed wall faster than you can say ‘Boston Sub’.
If you’re not pro meat and bread, my advice is to eat beforehand.
Boston Sub is…
Food aside, as a cocktail bar, Jungle Boy is bloody brilliant. So good that I’m even happy to let the permanent smell of deep friedness slide.
The bartenders are also super friendly making it a very relaxed place to enjoy a cocktail on a Friday night – the lychee rosewater daiquiri and champagne cocktails are my fav. But it’s the secret bar bit that makes it fun. Although given the regular (short) line-up these days, I’m not sure it’s a secret bar per se anymore.
Now a word of warning to all of our Adelaide friends, if we’re claiming we’re still hungry after a huge meal or craving some nasty diner food, something is suss, yes. But do not be alarmed, we’re not trying to mug you.
Boston Sub and Jungle Boy | 96 Chapel Street, Windsor, Victoria
Phone: (03) 9939 9038