Geelong is like Melbourne’s younger Kardashian sister—brash, thirsty and eager to prove itself.
Recess is the latest in a string of rock-solid late night venues popping up across Geelong CBD, and it might just be the best of the lot: a multi-level eatery and wine bar, with a rooftop courtyard and beer garden on Moorabool St (the old Jack & Jill space).
On the front doors, someone’s engraved, “Push to Play.” Sums up the joint perfectly.
Hospitality veteran and owner Andrew Steere has done a great job with the space. It’s your classic 2018 blend of luxe finishes and industrial swagger: a pressed tin ceiling on the downstairs bar, geometric pendant lights, a pop of neon here and there, exposed brick and big leather chesterfield sofas. If it wasn’t for the odd Cats scarf, you could be in Fitzroy.
The downstairs saloon is perfect for a quiet pint, but there’s an upstairs bar too— Andrew is hosting DJs up here on Friday and Saturday nights, not to mention Fabulous Friday drag shows once a month. The rooftop beer garden is a beauty, with panoramic views of Saint Mary’s steeple. You can chill under the fairy lights (literally in winter), sip a Bellarine pinot and watch the afternoon slide by.
Menu-wise, nearly everything is gluten-free. There’s beer-soaking crowd-pleasers like buttermilk fried chicken with Carolina BBQ sauce, pan-fried halloumi and loaded hummus (!!), plus healthier bites: warm pumpkin salad with crispy chickpeas and goat’s cheese, or the seared chicken breast with maple Jamon, leeks and carrot puree.
TBH everything looked bloody delicious. It was one of those menus when you have to ask the waiter for another five minutes, just to make up your mind. The kitchen runs till 10pm, so you can keep nibbling after dark.
As you’d expect, there’s Furphy on tap, plus a select range of local craft beers. Most of the wines come from Bellarine vineyards, but there’s some well-travelled international bottles too. Personally, we’re here for the cocktails: The Detention with sloe gin, Amaro Nonino, lime, sugar and egg whites is the perfect party-starter.
There’s a reason Geelong property prices are hockey-sticking right now, and partly that’s down to places like Recess. Locals aren’t just trying to ape Melbourne, they’re trying to beat it at it’s own game.
More power to ‘em. This place is bloody wonderful.
Image credit: Recess