An impressive list of restaurateurs has made Southbank’s fare synonymous with high quality dining, and our introduction of Downstairs Bistro & Lounge is no exception. Words by Ryan Auberson-Walsh
Sitting about 1km back from the well-known tourist furore of the Yarra River and Crown Casino foreshore, Downstairs is a quieter, more intimate dining experience.
Whitewash walls surround long communal tables, with the timber elements in each of the dining areas adding a bit of warmth to the casual ambience that flows onto the outdoor terrace. For people looking to reserve a space for any kind of function, the size of the restaurant is quite homey, but nonetheless spacious enough for a decent, buzzing crowd.
What’s offered in a function booking is quite spectacular – Sliders include the likes of crispy duck pancakes and prawn pickled mango rice paper rolls. But the ability to pick and choose what you wish is more fantastic itself – you won’t be left with a plate of untouched edibles that no one was keen on trying. Beverages can also be chosen in advance, with a guest’s pick of Entry Level, Premium and All Inclusive packages that cover beer, wine and soft drinks to cocktails champagne and house spirits.
Those rocking up on their own accord are spoilt for breakfast, lunch and dinner options that range from the sweet to savoury. Top picks for each meal would have to be breakfast bruschetta with eggs, avocado and goats cheese, prawn linguini for lunch and pan roasted Bultara saltbush lamb rump for tucker. Oh and, the dessert choices are worth lining up as their very own three-course meal.
With a suave, rustic charm, nibbling on a woodfire pizza next to the fireplace (or as a takeaway on your way home from work) is up there too. It sits in the same amazing category as $18.50 Steak and Parma nights (Tues and Thurs respectively), dished up with a matching beer or wine.
Happy Hour is between 3.30pm and 6.30pm daily, with $10 cocktails a suitable accompaniment to practically anything pulled from the oven. Pick the Toffee Apple if you’ve got a sweet tooth – It combines Butterscotch and Apple schnapps with the zestiest of fruits. But if you’re more of a wine connoisseur, they’ve certainly got you covered, whether it be Happy Hour or closer to closing time.
Although it’s a bit distant from where the action is, Downstairs invites you in for a whole other reason – it’s not a place for drunken gamblers and photo-snapping tourists. It’s the best of luxe eating in a comfortable, modern setting.