Just Open: Magic Mountain Saloon

By Stephen A Russell
13th Jan 2015

Two symbolic, intertwined triangles in bold red mark the entrance to Magic Mountain Saloon, the latest offering from irrepressible duo Camillo Ippoliti and chef extraordinare Karen Batson, the brains behind some of Melbourne’s best bars and restaurants—Cookie, Cookie’s upstairs offshoot in Curtin House, The Toff in Town, Boney and Revolver Upstairs. 

Taking over the brick building next door to Boney that was once home to a cookie cutter Bridie O'Reilly's, Ippoliti fell in love with the bare bones of this former warehouse and garage. ‘We’re acknowledging that in exposed brickwork, trusses and steel frames,’ he says. ‘Some windows open out onto the car park across the road and we wanted to catch some of that aesthetic and bring it inside, too.’ 

Teaming up once again with architect Phillip Schemnitz, the design of Magic Mountain Saloon’s towering, vertical spaces emphasises the ground floor bar’s relationship to the laneways outside. This space is overlooked by a mezzanine dining area, while the saloon-style bar at the summit is studded with skylights overlooking the glittering city skyline. 

‘I love to use the nature of the original building but give it some contemporary currency, to subvert it so it has a new life,’ Ippoliti says. ‘We design and build ourselves; that’s why it takes so long, so we can control the process. We’re very close and personal in what we do.’ 

Fascinated by Melbourne’s heritage and thriving street culture, Magic Mountain Saloon’s urban space is picked out with glowing red lighting, tall perforated and patterned panels and tantalising glimpses of the surrounding streetscape. The restaurant and bar benefits from great natural light and that’s part of the reason Batson and Ippoliti are throwing the doors open early for breakfast, despite the venue’s 3am kick out time and the kitchen staying open until at least midnight each day. 

‘We’ve got a beautiful quality of light and we think it’ll be a great space to sit in in the morning,’ Ippoliti says. ‘Karen will be offering a Thai-influenced breakfast that’s exotic but not intimidating. We work closely together and she’s been on this journey engaging with Thai culture and food that I’ve shared with her.’

Magic Mountain Saloon’s Asian-infused breakfasts will include the likes of coconut and papaya pikelets, steamed eggs with roasted pork belly and the traditional rice noodle dish, Kanom Jeen. Throughout the day punters will be able to grab snacks at the bar or sit down to lunch or dinner along the lines of Batson’s own Thai-inspired twist on surf and turf, bowls of aromatic curries, stir-fried kale and crispy pork or green prawns and kingfish swimming in chilli, mint, bitter melon and lemongrass.

The twin peaks theme of Magic Mountain Saloon is picked out by a pair of dramatically bold landscapes by designer Misha Hollenbach and there will be a constant array of DJs teed up as the sun goes down and day shifts into night, with punters encouraged to see in the wee hours and sort their heads out with a stiff coffee the following morn. 

If you love Cookie or Boney, Batson and Ippoliti have worked their magic again with Magic Mountain Saloon. ‘We always carry a history with us about what we’ve done before, what I and the people around me are interested in,’ he says. ‘There’s a narrative, but we allow each venue to create its own identity.’

Magic Mountain Saloon opens tomorrow.

Image Credits: Magic Mountain Saloon.

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