When the daggy fish and chip store five metres from home closed up shop, and then planning approval for a promising new tapas bar appeared on the boarded up windows, I was a wee bit excited. Nine months later, Graze Bar, a BBQ-style, tapas meat-fest, has finally opened its doors in Prahran.
Was the wait worth it? Yes, yes my weight in beef ribs it was.
Graze Bar is the brainchild of three hospitality veterans. It’s their first foray into owning their own restaurant, and they’re open about their journey, which makes them incredibly endearing. You find yourself really wanting this little High Street place to succeed, inspired by their story and willingness to have a crack (and it’s a good crack).
I was so excited to jump aboard the Graze Bar bandwagon (and quit having to peer in through the windows for a progress update, like the nosy neighbour I am) that I waited not a day beyond official opening night last Saturday to get my beef jerkey on.
We also wanted to support our new local bar, but we probably didn’t need to as there wasn’t a spare seat in the house (read: best to make a booking).
An eclectic vibe
Expect an eclectic affair, with a mash up of themes and food types. It’s kind of like a collection of things the owners-come-chefs love, from dishes to decor, but it works.
I definitely didn’t expect to receive the bill in a medieval goblet, or find a log and silver bucket sink or picket fence in the bathroom. The red velvet curtains, assorted pendant lights and a corrugated iron light up Graze Bar sign also add to the eclectic vibe.
Graze Bar is bigger than what you think from the street (from all that window peering research). The restaurant is split into two separate dining areas, plus a private function room and curbside seating. The front bar is super cool with wooden benches, warm lighting and a fun, casual vibe, plus entertainment for the night is the goings on in the kitchen, which shares real estate with the front-of-house. You can also see straight into the kitchen from the street, which I do find a little strange, like the chefs are some kind of circus monkeys – you definitely wouldn’t want a messy sous chef.
The second dining area has a completely different vibe. It’s a little more formal, yet a bit rough around the edges – better, non-green lighting would help.
Homestyle cooking in Prahran
Menu options change regularly depending on what produce can be sourced from various Victorian markets, so you can expect all that Graze Bar serves to be super fresh and seasonal. The menu is updated via their two chalkboard walls, by someone who clearly has impeccable handwriting.
Given I eat meat holding my noise and only because the doctor tells me to, you could say I was a little apprehensive about going to a restaurant whose logo is a pig. But I was surprised to find lots of dishes that I wanted to try, and that it’s not entirely one big meat-fest.
The meatballs with pecorino were super fresh and homemade-tasting. The American-style Buffalo wings were delicious, but it was the melt-in-your-mouth BBQ beef ribs that stole the show. The mushroom and fresh herb gyoza, not so much. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I would actually recommend sticking with the meat-based dishes, which were all winners.
After all that, we were both full as the Graze Bar pig so passed on dessert, but if I wasn’t required to waddle home I could have easily mowed down a duo of cheeses, or a chocolate brownie with whiskey sauce and ice cream.
Graze bar is…
Graze Bar is different from anything else in the area, which is a huge feat given the Chapel Street dining precinct has more eating options than Hugh Hefner’s had girlfriends. That being said, I can easily see this place becoming a hipster’s hang-out of choice. It’s very real, affable and unpretentious, and the food is as good as going to mum’s house for dinner.
The night I was there, there were definitely some opening night jitters, but I’m sure they’ll be ironed out. However, worth mentioning is the ultra crispy fat chips that we were given complimentary to amuse ourselves while our meals took a little while to appear. And amused they did. Them and their accompanying smoky salsa bought many minutes of happiness.
All these teething problems behind them, I expect to see this boutique tapas bar only get slicker. I genuinely want Graze Bar to go from strength to strength.
Graze Bar | 69–71 High Street, Prahran, Victoria
Phone: (03) 9510 7715