In the turbulence of post-war Australia, Campari House opened its doors as a single-level bistro. Today, this historical venue has expanded its reach over multiple levels, creating a space that offers the complete Melbourne experience: enjoy laneway dining on the ground floor, then follow the street art up the stairs to a hideaway cocktail bar to sample a specialty drink before finishing your night at the rooftop bar.
Cloaked in mystery, the name behind this venue is said to have emerged from a dispute between its original owner – Mr Campari, and Campari – the aperitif. Current owner, Rick Munday doesn’t know for sure – when he took over the reins in 2015, he inherited the moniker and thought the mystery suited the venue’s historic building.
Rick is no newcomer to the hospitality scene, bringing with him experience from previous ventures including The Whalers Inn in Warrnambool, The Grand Hotel in Frankston and The Golden Fleece Hotel in Melton. At Campari House, he injects all this acquired knowledge into each level, creating a diverse dining and drinking experience. With so much room to play with, Rick and his team have worked hard to present something different on each floor, allowing visitors to take a journey through its levels. To complete this, he brought on Cam Moore as Head Chef.
In Campari’s kitchen, Cam develops new dishes seasonally, drawing on his love of back-to-basics cooking, which focuses on the fundamental use of strong and deep flavours. To keep travel time from farm to kitchen as low as possible, every ingredient is sourced from the state, including meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables.
In true Italian fashion, the menu boasts bold flavours sure to satisfy. Begin with kangaroo carpaccio served with fig jam, Dijon cress salad, native outback baby spinach and fresh pecorino; or the grilled king prawns served with house-made chimichurri.
For mains, try the crisped duck breast with parsnip puree, roasted parsnip and a dusting of dehydrated lychee, finished with duck jus, or opt for a pasta, such as the fresh saffron pappardelle topped with a rich pork jowl ragu. For dessert, sample the coconut Malibu cheesecake with honey tuile and lime syrup.
If you’re looking for cocktails, the rooftop bar offers a delicious assortment of drinks to choose from. From the blood orange sour, to the pomegranate mojito and coconut margarita, the bar is perfect for hazy summer nights, but also features a retractable rooftop and heating for those colder months.
For something a little more sophisticated, head to the Lounge, and give the Lupulin Gift a try – a classic English gin cocktail infused with American hops and kaffir lime. There’s also an excellent wine and beer list, showcasing the best from both local and international wineries and breweries.
While every floor may offer something different, the design elements unite the venue under the Campari House umbrella. Striking feature walls have been hand-painted by Croatian artist, Marko Maglaic, and feature a mixture of tribal graffiti curling around nine flights of stairs.
Known for its comprehensive selection of drinking and dining options, Campari House has come a long way since its beginnings in 1968. Every level offers a new surprise and another aspect of the Melbourne experience. Distinct, bold and innovative, it’s not to be missed.