It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday...regular crowd shuffles in...
If you hadn’t picked up on the coded clue in those lyrics, Melbourne’s getting its own bona fide, Chicago-style, Billy Joel busting, once-more-for-the-cheap-seats piano bar.
Seriously, how has no-one done this yet? We’ve got karaoke, we’ve got jazz bars, we’ve got more rock pubs and gig venues than you can shake a mic stand at. We’ve got watermelon bloody ice-cream sandwiches. But proper piano bars? None. Zero. Zilch.
Enter Murmur bar. Now you probably know this place—it’s been around the traps since about 2004, and over the years it’s evolved through a few incarnations. This is the latest, and the most exciting. Five nights a week, you can climb the stairs off Warburton Ln, just above Porto Rosso and enter a world of tapas, fine wine and piano music, belted out by resident entertainer Matt Ganim.
“You’ve got to know your classics,” Matt says, coming to chat to us after a set. “If you don’t have Piano Man, Brown Eyed Girl and American Pie ready to go, you’re stuffed. The requests come flying, and you’ve got to be ready.”
The drinks list is growing all the time. The guys behind the bar have been given the task of sourcing a new boutique gin or whisky every week, and the collection is pretty spiffy. The wine list heroes a few local vintners, plus a few cheeky Spanish reds.
The Spanish theme comes through again in the food. Murmur doesn’t have it’s own kitchen, but all the food get whizzed up the stairs from Portello Rosso (its sister venue). We’re talking crispy pork belly with almond garlic puree. Or smoked ham hock croquettes with piquillo peppers and aioli.
As for the requests, Matt says the more the better. Shout ‘em out (if you’ve drunk enough), or come up and chat between songs. And yes, he appreciates curve balls.
“If I don’t have that *NSYNC, I’ll do some Backstreet Boys,” he jokes.
Image credit: Annika Kafcaloudis