It has been lying dormant for almost two decades, but the stunning red brick building that once housed the Caulfield Rifle Club has shot back into prominence in the form of French-Indochine bar and restaurant, Bang Bang at the Rifle Club.
From Sandringham line commuters hungry for a fast feed or a Seven Seeds caffeine hit; to besties catching up in an intricately tiled bar or settling in for an evening of gossip and great food in the dining hall out back, Glenhuntly Road’s newest all-day eatery hits the mark (ha, get it?).
A collaboration between the Riverland Group, responsible for Yarra-side venues Riverland, Pilgrim and The Boatbuilders Yard, Bang Bang spills out onto a sun-soaked, palm tree-lined terrace. In summer, sunnies are a must and we’d have it no other way.
Overlooking a beautifully landscaped parcel of land running along the Sandringham rail tracks behind Elsternwick station, though you can’t see the sea, diners reap the benefits of afternoon sunsets and morning sunrises.
Former Longrain chef Matthew Dunbar heads up the Indochine-inspired, all-day menu, embracing a French colonial influence on South-East Asian staples. Kicking off with a porridge-style sticky black rice congee with chilli oil, coriander and fried shallots, you can opt for a corn and mushroom accompaniment, master stock pork or smoked trout for a breakfast with a twist. There’s also a cassoulet of confit duck and sausage with white beans, tomato and a hit of chilli…because who WOULDN’T want duck for breakfast?!
A one-bite highlight of the night menu, best enjoyed on the decked terrace, the succulent confit duck betel leaf parcels refresh with a citrus zing and will leave your sticky fingers wanting more. Share plate highlights include lightly spiced, lip-smacking crispy chicken ribs served with dipping Sriracha for the spice-lovers, and a delicate kingfish sashimi served with trout roe with a fine dusting of caramelised cashew that gives the feather-light dish a textural thrill.
The bullseye comes in the form of a hearty roast pumpkin and kipfler potato curry infused with star anise and cinnamon. Soak it up with generous helpings of fluffy steamed rice, and preen at your green-eyed carnivorous friends. Pork hock cooked in Thai dried chilli sauce and turmeric literally falls off the bone in silky morsels of extravagant aromatic pleasure. We stripped it bare with a fervour that would frighten any non-foodie.
Linking back to breakfast, the black sticky rice porridge doubles on dessert duty with succulent mango, creamy coconut sorbet and pandan sweet cream. The savoury base keeps the sweeter influences in check, making it ideal for those who don’t normally indulge post-dinner (it’s alright we’re only judging you a little, little bit).
Cocktails embrace tropical elements, with a Thai basil cucumber smash muddled with Plymouth gin, pineapple juice and lime. Kaffir leaves and galangal convert the Tromba Blanco and Cointreau margarita to the Indochine theme.
Already bustling one week after opening the doors, Bang Bang’s exposed brick and intricately patterned panelling is the result of a dream team-up between Six Degrees Architects and Chamberlain architects, making the most of the deep space by opening onto the grassy knoll adjacent.
Elsternwick has been slow to embrace the stylish nighttime dining trade and Bang Bang by The Rifle Club delivers that and more. It’s safe to say we’ll make Bang Bang a target on our foodie hit-list.
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Image credit: Bang Bang at The Rifle Club