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Time Out Melbourne: Arbory Bar

From tramp to vamp: the disused Sandridge Line by Flinders Street station is reborn as Arbory Bar

Taking a grotty disused railway line and turning it into an eye-bogglingly attractive public space is a Very Good Thing. New York did it with their High Line; now Melbourne has a rival project and, to our great satisfaction, it involves booze and food. The Sandridge Line opened in 1852 to pick up passengers arriving by sea from Port Melbourne’s Station Pier, but closed in 1987. And if you’re imagining barmen dressed as ticket inspectors – stop. Arbory doesn’t need to dip a conductor’s hat to its past – Flinders Street Station is its backdrop. Watch trains chug in and out while you order.

Much has been made of Arbory’s 150m deck overlooking the Yarra. Deck length isn’t intrinsically linked to successful drinking, but it does mean that getting a seat won’t be an issue. Smokers, take note: thanks to Metro Trains, the whole place is a puff-free zone. What you can do, and very well, is drink. The intelligent menu by Raúl Moreno Yagüe (ex-vue de Monde) is wine-centric; cocktail requests will be firmly but politely refused, though spirits and a mixer are OK. It’s an adventurous selection: if you’ve ever wanted to try a cab sauv from Mongolia or a pinot gris from Slovenia this is the place. Mornington Peninsula pale ales, Golden Axe ciders and Brooklyn lagers keep the craft beer crew happy.

Why not catch the late train home and have dinner here? European-style shared plates and mains come courtesy of exec chef Nick Bennett (Trocadero, Cecconi’s Cantina). Crisp-shelled mushroom-andcheese croquettes are flavoured with tarragon and butter; a pillowy knot of buffallo mozarella is scattered with almonds, macadamias and raisins, freshened up with punchy green pesto. Steak tartare is the only disappointment: the unnecessary cheesy toast that comes with it arrives cold. A grassy, white-green wine from Spain – La Liebre y la Tortuga – provides a crisp, clean partner to the above.

We’ve left the best bit til last: the view. By day, spy on Southgate Wharf, admire the leafy plane trees for which Arbory is named, and watch the ebb and flow of commuters. By night, you get the violet glow of Hamer Hall, the yellow lights of Flinders Street, the twinkling of stars, and the rippling reflections on the river. Drink it all in, along with your excellent wine.

Arbory Bar & Eatery Flinders Walk, Melbourne 3000. 03 8648 7644. arbory.com.au. Daily 7.30am-late.