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Reviewed by EREZ GORDON

The post-midnight search for a decent feed and a reasonable atmosphere has always been a talking point for hospitality staff. (Anything without a brain drilling techno beat counts as reasonable). The desire to enjoy a glass of wine (or other) and something to eat at the end of a long day’s “waiting” has led me to make some interesting trips into the Melbourne night world.

Undoubtedly some of the best food to be had after midnight is at The Supper Inn in Celestial Lane. There is something about a set of narrow stairs that appeals to night owls and The Supper Inn is found at the top of such stairs. As a restaurant off Little Bourke Street it serves what you would expect, excellent Chinese food. There are no dimmer switches here, just bright open eating in a packed dining room. At 2am on a Saturday night it is not unlikely that you will wait for a table. The hot and sour soup, spicy quail, and deep fried flounder never disappoint. For a change I might visit Ling Nan around the corner in Little Bourke Street for their crispy skinned chicken.

Finding somewhere to eat further out from the city becomes more difficult and certain sacrifices have to be made. Fitzroy Street has shed the notoriety it gained twenty years ago but a stroll along its shopfronts in the early hours might manage to raise an eyebrow. For years restaurants along this strip have been catering to the late night crowd. Some have almost become landmarks. Topolinos serves generally good pizza and pasta until extremely late and what you sacrifice in quality you gain in candid entertainment provided by the streets natural “theatre”. I have often marveled at the patience of their staff. A little further along is Monroe’s, named after the famous Marilyn and whereas Topolino’s is earthy in appearance, Monroe’s is unadulterated kitsch and somehow this décor suits 3am the best. Monroe’s is good for oysters and a bottle of sparkling wine.

Melbourne has no shortage of bars open until very late (if they close at all). One of my favourites is the Greville Bar in Greville Street Prahran. A narrow bar that packs almost as much punch in its atmosphere as it does with its drinks. The staff are ultra-friendly and the clientele will keep you on your toes. In the unlikely event that you get bored, the same street also contains The Candy Bar and the Continental Bar. Wandering between the three on balmy summer nights is a luxury too good to waste on the sober.

A little way away is the relatively new OneSixtyOne (161 High Street, Prahran). Through orange doors and up narrow stairs, again, and you are met with textured wallpaper, recessed aquariums and funky 60’s and 70’s furniture. It is the place where bright young things peer out through suburban venetian blinds at the dark urbanity of Chapel Street below.

For a complete change of pace and place visit the Red Triangle (110A Argyle Street, Fitzroy). A big warehouse space on the third floor (yes, more dingy stairs) is fitted out with pool tables, low slung lights and an esspresso machine. A little piece of cake, an esspresso and a couple of games of pool are great for winding the evening to a gentle close.

The ultimate place to visit in the wee hours is The Melbourne Supper Club. A short climb up another narrow staircase on Spring Street reveals a long warm room, furnished with wood paneling, plush red velvet club lounges, luxurious Chesterfield couches and a curious mix of the well dressed and badly behaved. A lot of hospitality people end up here for the great wine list, a small but satisfying menu and casual but efficient table service. Too often one drink at The Supper Club has ended in a dawn taxi ride home but in this upside down night world the measure of a good place is one that can entice you to stay beyond the boundaries of good sense.