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First Look: Bar Rochford

HerCanberra Team

The iconic Melbourne building is set to come alive this Spring, with not one, but two, bars set to open. Hot on the tail of news of the impending opening of The Highball Express (a new venture from the team behind Molly) comes word of Bar Rochford.

But there is no ‘theme’ for this bar, just an eclectic mix of food, drink, music and art – all the elements that make up a good night with friends and encourages fine times.

“We wanted to create an intimate feel with a large communal bar that sits in front of our half moon window. You can sit at the open kitchen and experience the fired chargrill cooking local meats, seafood and local produce,” says Nick Smith, who is creating the bar with his partner Luci and friend Ian. “Drinks will focus on wine, vermouth, old cocktails and beers.”

Bar Rochford's interior under construction. Image: supplied.

Bar Rochford’s interior under construction. Image: supplied.

All three owners are hospitality veterans, moving straight into the industry from school and immersing themselves in the hospitality scene everywhere from Melbourne and Sydney to London and Berlin. That experience is now distilling itself into Bar Rochford.

“I’ve always worked in restaurants and bars…in some really successful places (Longrain and Bomba) that imparted me with a keen interest in wine, cocktails, food and service,” says Nick.

“Ian has been working at eightysix since moving down from Sydney. His food is creative and approachable and complements the kind of dining and drinking style that we are creating. He will have a woodfired chargrill so you can expect some great charred meats and vegies, individual bites and larger sharing dishes.”

Bar Rochford under construction. Image: supplied.

Bar Rochford under construction. Image: supplied.

You may recognise Nick and Luci from The Forage, where they run Trader Nic’s Lemonade. This new venture takes them off the streets and into an historic and character-filled building, which the team are keen to treat sympathetically.

“We are above ground level and have this amazing arch window which is the main focus, and which we have built the bar around. There is heaps of natural light, exposed brick so we want our bar to keep in line with those natural elements.”

“There are a lot of great spaces in Canberra that aren’t being used, the way they are in denser, compact and vibrant cities. We want to make use of Odgers Lane and utilise some of that space.”

A keen collector, Nick says that music will also be a big part of the bar.

“I love music…we’ll be pulling records from the earlier times like sixties soul, Chicago blues to jazz, African funk and disco later on.”

The team’s central philosophy is to create a welcoming space for all Canberrans…not just the cool crowd.

“We want to create a place that connects with the community, somewhere that feels sincere…where you could bring your mother as well as settle in for the night with friends.”

Bar Rochford is set to open in November 2015.

the essentials

What: Bar Rochford
Where: Melbourne Building, First Floor 65 London Cct, Canberra City.
When: Estimated to open in November.
Web: www.barrochford.com

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