In Short: Abacus Bar & Kitchen in Melbourne’s South Yarra brings together innovation and creativity with a dash of playfulness that delivers on a truly engaging foodie experience. The service is as good as it gets, with a team of true professionals that clearly care about every single aspect of their craft. Tip: Try the Davidson Plum for the theatre, and the Beef Tongue Croqueta… perfection!
Melbourne is our second home, as we split our time evenly now between here and Sydney. So when a renown foodie favourite like Abacus Bar & Kitchen was recommended to us by our awesome friends at AGFG, we jumped at the chance to see firsthand what everyone has been raving about!
We absolutely love the vibe of Chapel St in South Yarra. It’s that perfect mix of sophistication and quirkiness that makes for great food and people watching. So, as we take a seat in the front window of Abacus Bar & Kitchen, we’re front row to watch the Chapel St. show in all its glory.
The Abacus space is open, airy, and inviting. It’s beautifully sculpted with textures that feel warm, yet fresh. The open bar and kitchen let you see the hive of activity behind the scenes and make you feel connected to the entire glorious food experience.
Spending so much time in the food industry, perhaps the most notable element of any food adventure is the service. Abacus has managed to cultivate some of the friendliest and most engaged service professionals we’ve come across yet. So, it’s no surprise that as soon as we’re seated, a duo of delectable drinkies are winging their way to our table.
The Quangdong Fizz is a magical elixir of wild peach, Four Pillars gin, rose vermouth, grenadine, lemon, and egg white. The heavenly concoction is dry shaken to whip up a stunning, creamy foam topper. If it already doesn’t get you with the list of amazing ingredients, then the taste is the clincher! Subtly sweet with a crispness that refreshes as much as it pleases.
Making an entrance fit for a diva, the Davidson Plum spills a cloud of mist across our table and enchants us into an Abacus cocktail wonderland. Hot earl grey tea cascades over the rocks and into Beenleigh dark rum, lime, lychee, and elderflower. I mean wow! I was so stunned that I had the wrong lens on our camera to capture it…but you get the picture! Bravo to the bartender… this is world-class!
What’s a suitable chaser to such memorable creations? The beautiful, unadulterated taste of the ocean, of course. Coffin Bay Oysters grace our table on a bed of ice and it’s as if we’re drinking in the flavours of the bay at the jetty. Just stunningly fresh with a salty sweetness that salves the tongue.
Both Sonia and I have a weakness for bread, and I don’t mean good ol’ Tip Top. I’m talking about artisanal bread that holds its own with the likes of any other food you can name. Abacus has brought such a lovingly leavened loaf to life in the form of it’s signature sourdough. Baked by Abacus, it’s served with Mornington olive oil, and pistachio dukkha. Plates of this alone could have kept coming and both Sonia and I would have been happy campers.
Speaking of Mornington Olives, a brimming plate of these gems arrives with the bread in black and green varieties. Side-kicked by the most addictive smoked almonds you’ve ever tasted, I’m just about brimming myself as I can’t stop my hand from reaching for more!
Ok, time to take it all up a notch! Abacus is never shy with it’s ingredients, so South Australian Kangaroo Tartare is right in line with the innovative, yet accessible, menu. Served with capers, crout, and saltbush, the vinegary, citrus notes provide highlights to a beautifully tender, succulent mouth experience, that is never gamey.
White anchovy with lemon myrtle, heritage tomatoes, and crout sits a top the same charcoal crostini as the kangaroo did. As a base, it’s so light and crisp, perfectly complimenting the anchovy and tomato blend with a hint of saltiness.
You know when a truly outstanding dish touches your tongue and words struggle to find their way to your lips. That reaction seems particularly fitting for the Beef Tongue Croqueta at Abacus. The most tender cubes of beef are surrounded in a crispy coating and adorned with a crown of pancetta and a dab of tart Dijon. These taste even more delicious than they look!
Karage anything and I’m in! Japanese is my passion, so karage chicken is a staple in my foodie repertoire. Laced with chilli jam and candied peanuts, the Abacus take on this dish is yum! Oh man these go down sooo nice and quick. It’s definitely a unique take on the traditional “JFC”, but it’s got the crunch and moistness to leave you desperately wanting more…please!
Golden brown, crunchy roast potatoes have got to be right at the top on most comfort food lists. Confit Broken Potato is gold in a bowl. Thick, gleaming, chunky crust gives way to pillowy soft white interior. Piled with sour cream, native pepper, and wild thyme, these golden nuggets are no fool’s gold!
Everything in life benefits from a happy ending, so Abacus pulls out the stops with the Chocolate Torte. Sounds simple enough, and that’s where they’ve done it right. Let the simple quality ingredients do the talking. Rich, smooth dark chocolate is almost cheesecake-like in consistency, and is tastefully complemented with a touch of silky cream and accented by peach, pair, and strawberry. Decadent does not do justice to the deep, refined character of the chocolate. The smile on our faces says it all!
Abacus Bar & Kitchen is a part of what makes South Yarra such a foodie paradise. It combines innovation and quality with playful, yet sophisticated creations that are just as much about taste as they are about the theatre. Put Abacus high on your list of Melbourne foodie must-dos, and you’ll thank us you did!
*Coco & Vine dined as guests of Abacus Bar & Kitchen and AGFG. However, all images and opinions are our own.