A tall red door resides on Little Collins Street between Swanston and Elizabeth. Wedge between two known boutique stores, it could easily be missed by unbeknown passers-byers. Small but readable typography spells the words ‘Polepole’ and ‘watering hole’. The sound of buzzing people and soothing music is projected from the warehouse windows above.
The curiosity builds.
All can be revealed by venturing through the red door, up a flight of stairs to Melbourne’s latest bar – Polepole Bar + Kitchen.
Polepole is a Swahili word, pronounced pol-eh-pol-eh, and it means to ‘go-slowly’. The term is commonly used by locals to remind people to take it easy; and it’s this way of life that the team at Polepole Bar + Kitchen offers to Melbourne. Taking over of what was Tony Starr’s Kitten Club, the husband and wife team – Dean and Jeanelle Mariani – have created their dreams of owning and running an East African bar.
Having extensively travel the region for four months, their holiday adventures was the perfect stomping grounds to taste and experience the best East Africa had to offer. Upon returning to Melbourne, they had got themselves financially and mentally ready to embark on this venture. Taking over the lease and with a six week window before opening, they stripped down what was once the crammed decor and created a little safari haven.
Polepole is the perfect setting to mix up Friday night drinks where you can swap the usual craft beer with an imported East African beer or indulge in their signature cocktail list. The decor is simple yet raw feeling. The distressed brick is amplified with the moderate lighting that creates little hanging out nooks with plenty of different seating arrangements.
PolePole kitchen offers an assortment of bite size snacks that will excite and tantalise the taste buds. In particular, the pork, almond and cinnamon cigar served with lava salt is a must-try. For the sweet tooth, the Rum and raisin brownie mousse cake is worth raving about for hours long after consumption has occurred. The food portion sizes served here are enough to keep you going for another drink and enhances the East African experience.
New bars are always exciting to visit and Polepole have done enough to stir curiosity. So this Friday coming, why not break the regular waterhole routine and embark on a new adventure – East African style.
Mon – Thur: 4pm – 11pm
Fri – Sat: 4pm – 1am
The Modern Connoisseur dined as a guest of PolePole Bar + Kitchen. All opinions and views are true and honest to the contributor’s experience.