If the Caribbean delights of jerk chicken and rum punch sound like something you can get down with, head to Franklin Street tonight for the opening of Port of Call Saloon Bar & Grill. We spoke to Owen Westman, the owner of this establishment and The Collection Bar in Richmond, about what we can expect from the opening night, and all the nights that follow.
First thing you’ll notice as you enter downstairs is the beautiful wood in the saloon bar. What you might not realise straight away is that it was all sourced from a glorious Victorian ash from the Dandenong ranges. “The bar top and all of the wood came from one tree in Olinda, which we brought back on a truck we rented and cut it into pieces… we sanded it for days and days. Every table, the bar top, and the back shelves on the bar, they’re all from the one tree,” says Westman. Pair this with the building’s original brickwork and splash of colour and you have a fun and rustic fit out.
As for the food on offer, there will be two parts to the menu at Port of Call, the first being the grill. This will be available every day, which will include jerk chicken, jerk pork, meat on the rotisserie.“We have a custom made 1.5 metre charcoal pit built out the back which we’re cooking everything on,” explains Westman. There will also be a section of the menu that changes daily, where the chefs can run up to the neighbouring Vic Markets for fresh produce. “There will be eight items everyday that change based on what’s available, what’s fresh, and whatever we come with ideas for,” says Westman.
For drinks, home-made rum punch will be high on the agenda at Port of Call. “If you travel through the Caribbean, every island has their own rum punch, so we’re doing five rum punches from different islands,” says Westman. Home-made ginger beer, also known as “giraffe ginger beer”, and fresh apple juice will be available as mixers for no extra cost.
Westman is clearly excited about the location of his latest venture, as he explains, “I’m looking forward to playing with all of these fresh ingredients. Being opposite the markets is something I’ve always wanted to do… Being able to go there and buy your own ingredients and come up with ideas all the time brings me back to when I first started bartending in the USA where we used to do a market cocktail every day, which I haven’t done for a long time.” If you’re interested in sampling the goods, head down to Port of Call Saloon Bar & Grill this evening to get this place off to a cracking start.
Image Credit: Nick West for The Urban List