Pilgrim Bar - Federation Wharf (Melbourne)

Hidden to the side of Federation Square away from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne CBD is Pilgrim Bar – one of the city’s best-kept afternoon-session secrets. Its entrance is located on Federation Wharf, just off the well-trodden path of Flinders Street. Situated just next to the Yarra River, this bar and eatery attracts both locals and travelers alike with its beautiful, all-weather section the perfect vantage point for watching all of the action below.

The atmosphere is jovial and classy yet intimate and relaxed – great for gatherings with friends or that cheeky romantic rendezvous. Find a spot in the shade at a wooden table and allow yourself to be treated to seasonal produce with some very interesting pairings and flavour combinations. There are dishes to suit any appetite, with the focus being on share plates, sandwiches, cheeses and snacks.

Start with the fior di latte served with hazelnut dukkah and a drizzle of olive oil – perfect for mopping up with torn pieces of warm focaccia. The toasty characteristics of the dukkah are subtle enough to complement the delicate, creamy pillows of mozzarella.

Next, enjoy the array of charcuterie, which makes for the perfect companion to any glass of wine. Choose from Mojama (Spanish air cured tuna), Prosciutto di San Daniele, Sopressa Salumi and Finocchiona Fennel Salami or go all out with a selection of each, all served with a warm baguette and garnish. Otherwise be swept off your feet by the cured beef carpaccio. Topped with pickled beetroot, crispy sage and shallots, this is a delightful fusion that epitomises the free-spirited, long and lazy feel of summer.

If you’re after a twist on a classic, then try the 12 hour braised lamb shoulder that is so tender it literally falls apart. Take each mouthful with a lashing of eggplant and date puree, topped with snow pea tendrils.

Warm days call for seafood, so it’s no surprise that the cuttlefish with confit onions and witlof is sure to satisfy. Although some may find the crumbs of salty chorizo dotted throughout the dish a little overpowering, others might like it so much that they’ll literally lick the remainders from the plate.

You’ll also find a selection of vegetarian dishes that pack a graceful punch and won’t leave your leaf-eating friends in a lurch. A highlight is the lentil tabouleh with quinoa, coriander, parsley and sherry dressing – it’s gluten free, dairy free and best of all, vegan.

For dessert, treat your tastebuds to the summer berry salad with candied orange, saffron sauce and yoghurt sorbet. It may look simple but this sweet composition is sure to be a refreshing finish to any meal.

While the food is truly impressive, Pilgrim is a bar and the drinks menu will suit anyone who is feeling just a little fancy. Beyond an extensive wine and spirits list is a cocktail menu stocked with classics and unique inventions. The focus is on Australian rum, whisky, vodka and gin, with veritable extracts from well-known distilleries such as Four Pillars in the Yarra Valley, Margaret River’s West Winds and Port Arthur’s own McHenry. If you can’t quite make a decision, then let the bartenders do the choosing while you do the eating and the talking.

Currently into its second year, the folks at Pilgrim Bar have worked hard to create a relaxed, intimate waterfront venue with an intuitive approach to good food and drinks. This New Year’s Eve, they will be hosting a dazzling party featuring live entertainment and the opportunity to watch the midnight fireworks – an all-out celebration with plenty to eat and drink. For ticketing information, head to their website though you’d best get in soon before it all sells out.

Pilgrim Bar

Address: Vaults 15-19 Federation Wharf, Federation Square, Melbourne VIC
Contact: (03) 9654 9575
Hours: 7 days, 12pm til late.

Photos by Serena Ho for the AU Review