Cherry Bar’s gone, but these joined laneways still rock – just a little more quietly. Check out the street art, then taste your way around the world, from India to Peru.
ACDC Lane and Duckboard Place form a U-shaped detour off Flinders Lane, between Russell and Exhibition Streets. The area was once a popular entertainment destination for World War II troops – in fact Duckboard Place gets its name from the paths of wooden slats built over muddy ground in World War I battlefields. It was neglected later in the 20th century, then became a destination again during the early 2000s when Honkytonks was the coolest nightclub in Melbourne. Live music venue Cherry Bar soon added rock to the mix.
This inspired the renaming of Corporation Lane to ACDC Lane in 2004, in honour of the Oz Rock band, who filmed the video clip ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top’ along nearby Swanston Street. With Cherry Bar moving out of ACDC Lane in July, both of these seminal music venues are gone, but this little laneway precinct’s still a popular destination.
The murals are big here, and none bigger than Steen Jones’ towering multi-storey tribute to Melbourne in Duckboard Place. His bold tattoo-style design featuring roses and a butterfly pays homage to the city. On a much smaller scale, you’ll find one of our last Banksy rats, which used to lurk all over the CBD.
Round the corner into ACDC Lane where you’ll see a massive tribute to Malcolm Young. The portrait mural went up soon after the AC/DC guitarist and songwriter died in 2017. The following year, Mike Makatron created a 3D sculpture of Acadaca’s former lead singer Bon Scott which can be seen bursting through the wall.
Eats and drinks
Lee Ho Fook
Meaning “good fortune for your mouth”, Lee Ho Fook does classy new-style Chinese. Technique and intriguing flavour combinations shine in dishes like lamb rump char sui with black pepper sauce, white miso cucumber, charred rhubarb and cashew cream. Far from being a cheap and cheerful Cantonese joint, this restaurant has a serious wine list and even does vegan banquets.
Tonka Bar & Restaurant
Want to take curry night into classy territory? Make a pilgrimage to Tonka Bar & Restaurant for some of the best modern Indian in town. Executive chef is Italian-Indian Adam D’Sylva, whose many claims to fame include first chef at Longrain. Try his next-level butter chicken, the prawn balchão betel leaf with pineapple and anise, and a Subcontinent-inspired cocktail.
This smart-casual restaurant’s moniker is the real name of Paddington Bear (and his uncle), but there’s not a marmalade sandwich in sight. It’s all about the food of his homeland, “deepest, darkest Peru”, at Pastuso. Get a taste for alpaca, ceviche, quinoa, yuca and Peru’s national cocktail, the pisco sour.
Garden State Hotel
Bypass the front-entrance crowd at ever-popular Garden State Hotel, and pop in by the back door on Duckboard Place. With three sprawling floors and food options ranging from steamed bao to wagyu cheeseburgers, this posh pub suits every mood. When the weather warms up, raise a glass in the shady, indoor-outdoor greenhouse-like atmosphere of the beer garden.
A Hereford Beefstouw
The Danish steakhouse chain’s Melbourne outpost is all about beef, wine and Scandi-chic design. A Hereford Beefstouw has sirloin, eye fillet, rump steak, T-bone, short ribs and more, plus a few dishes not made from Aussie cows. Like salmon carved at your table and served with a sweet mustard sauce, and chicken liver paté with brioche and apple chutney.
More eats and drinks nearby on Flinders Lane
Just around the corner in fabulous Flinders Lane, your other refuelling options include Trinket. This cocktail bar’s street level is sleek, vintage-inspired glamour, but another world lurks below, hidden behind a wardrobe. There’s also high-end pizza and two bars at Tazio, which recently moved from further up Flinders Lane, and basement Hawaiian-style dive bar Jack & Bones.