Though Sun Moth Canteen & Bar’s official address has it on Lonsdale Street, it is down the red-brick-lined and blue cobblestoned alleyway that is Niagara Lane that you will have to venture to gain entry. A lonely pot-plant outside (don’t worry he’s got plenty of mates inside) signals you’ve found the right spot. And potentially a new favourite Melbourne CBD lunch haunt that seems worlds away from the city hubbub.
Opening just before Christmas, Kylie Mackinlay and Luke Mutton (of Common Galaxia and Dead Man Espresso, the latter of which they sold last October) have founded Sun Moth alongside friends Jackson Duxbury and Tod La Mar. ‘Our tagline is “nourishing comfort food,”’ explains Mackinlay, who hopes Sun Moth can take good care of punters all day long. Paleo-eaters and the Atkins-devout should beware: the menu here veers towards delightfully satiating carbs – little wonder when chef Sebastien Nicholas used to work at Cobb Lane Bakery – as much as it cherry-picks from various cultures’ cuisines.
But this happily means more for the rest of us. Breakfast at Sun Moth could be sticky rice pudding or moreish nut-studded granola. Office workers will forget they are in a rush when confronted with masa dumplings in organic chicken broth (we feel better already), comforting five-grain risotto or good old-fashioned eggplant parmigiana lovingly slathered in pecorino come lunchtime. Still, Sun Moth realises we can’t all afford to dawdle; according to Mackinlay, everything is ‘supposed to be quick and easy hence the “canteen” in the name. Meals should be out in five to ten minutes... unless we’re really busy.’
Patrons may also forget they probably need to get home after dark with a bar list dedicated to local goodness. Sun Moth advocates for natural wines from Victoria and South Australia, ‘true’ craft brews and locally made and/or owned spirits. Here, the team slots together like a jigsaw puzzle, ‘Luke is really into beer, Jackson’s into natural wines and Tod is all about the spirits so he runs with that,’ explains Mackinlay.
Do expect a tasty, innovative bite from a short but sweet menu at Sun Moth. But don’t expect much of a focus on coffee. ‘A lot of people do come here though expecting something similar to Deadman,’ says Mackinlay. ‘They’re like “Oh I came here for a coffee!” Well you can get filter coffee and maybe one day we’ll get an espresso machine, but for now space-wise it’s filter.'
Somehow this less-caffeinated approach suits Sun Moth’s urban oasis-like fit out. Mutton mainly spearheaded the refined industrial-meets-conservatory look with help from the talents of Illogical Study for the bar and stools, and Lifespace Journey for the chairs, lighting and tables. A projector screen plays whatever the crew fancies at the time (in the past few weeks it’s showing vintage-era tennis in ode to the Australian Open). With this serene backdrop, Sun Moth is a great new CBD cafe in which to escape and spread your wings a little, if only for a short while.
Image Credits: Leela Schauble for The Urban List