The Times Australia

The Times

Food & Dining

Moonhouse

Commune Group brings personality and place in the former art deco bank at 282 Carlisle Street, Balaclava

This May, Commune Group (Firebird, New Quarter, Hanoi Hannah, Tokyo Tina) will launch Moonhouse, a new restaurant located on the prominent corner of Carlisle Street and Nelson Street in Balaclava; the arrival will bring Chinese cuisine in a bistro setting. 

“We want Moonhouse to be a neighbourhood restaurant that people travel to from all over Melbourne. I grew up and cut my teeth in this area, and we feel privileged to be taking over such an important site in Balaclava. The building is rich in history, and our design direction respects and embraces its heritage,” says Simon Blacher, Commune Group Creative Director.

"Chinese food is such an exciting cuisine filled with familiar flavours that we love, and Moonhouse, like all our venues, is not bound by tradition, rather inspired by it."

The kitchen team includes Executive Chef Anthony Choi (Cumulus Inc., Firebird, New Quarter Group), Group Pastry Chef Enza Soto (Brae, Baker D. Chirico, Bibelot, New Quarter and Firebird) and Head Chef Shirley Sunnakwan (Tokyo Tina, Hanoi Hannah Volume II, New Quarter). Together the team will express the intersection of flavours in contemporary ways. 

"Think Hainanese chicken club Sandwich, all the best parts of the classic wedged between two crunchy triangles of bread. Our wok section will be getting a workout between supreme fried rice and dishes like a wok-tossed soft shell crab with garlic, black bean and pepper. We are flexing on prawn toast, alongside the crowd's favourites comes a prawn bisque dipping sauce to double down on flavour.” 

"Our dessert queen Enza Soto will be working her magic. It's a madhouse of ideas at the moment, but stay tuned for a lethal dessert game," says Simon Blacher, Commune Group Creative Director.

 Behind the bar, the drinks list is focused on serving exclusively Australian wine, spirits and beers. 

Commune Group embraced the challenge of honouring the art deco heritage of 282 Carlisle Street, formerly a bank turned fast-food joint, and then a south-side favourite Ilona Staller, by introducing a minimal but playful, forward-facing identity based on the concept of intersection. 

Designer Ewert Leaf and agency Space Between, regular collaborators of Commune Group, will breathe new life into the heritage building to accommodate a 110-seated venue, with 74 downstairs and 36-seat private dining space upstairs, as well as a multifaceted cocktail bar on the first floor. 

Taking cues from the fit-out and existing soft curves of the building, the teams aim to simplify and interpret what art deco means in the context of Commune Group.  

"Between a pumping dining room, upstairs cocktail bar and private dining space, we hope that everyone's experience is unique but equally exciting,” says Simon Blacher, Commune Group Creative Director.

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