“There’s a new angle to admire every day. People deserve to see it.”
According to the ‘Stonnington Thematic Environmental History Update 2009’, “In the 19th century and well into the 20th, a local neighbourhood dairy was an essential urban service.” As such, a proliferation of these local dairies could be found scattered throughout the inner-eastern/eastern suburbs of Melbourne during this time. One such urban milk depot, Coughlin’s Dairy, was located at 109 Wattletree Road, Armadale. According to local legend, what made Coughlin’s extraordinary was that the head dairyman built a rooftop level on the site in the early 1940s so he could drink his daily glass of milk while enjoying sweeping views of the quasi-rural landscape. Now, nearly eight decades later, the milk has disappeared but the rooftop remains – much to the shear, “udder” delight of locals. Enter Nick Foley and Andrew Savvas, owners of Camberwell’s Gloria’s wine bar. The duo has reinvigorated part of the exemplary art-deco structure into a double-storey bar and rooftop quaintly named Harvie. And, yes, it is the very same rooftop that continues to boast extensive neighbourhood views and, of course, unforgettable sunsets. Needless to say, experiencing a Harvie sunset is a must-do. To facilitate this, regulars – as well as newcomers – are encouraged to check the website for the next sunset time so as to plan their positioning around the sleek rooftop bar in preparation to summon the spirit of the dairyman.
Harvie’s heritage-listed anterior on street level once appropriately fronted a milk bar. Today, however, with its typically art-deco curved, steel-framed window, it provides guests the perfect vantage point from which to indulge in a spot of urban anthropology. If you are less front and centre and more behind the scenes, hang out by the fire in the courtyard – the venue’s largest space. Interestingly, Harvie’s highlight is arguably not the rooftop, itself, but the way by which patrons access the rooftop. This comes in the form of a terrazzo-enveloped spiral staircase, and Foley believes that a portion of his clientele frequents the bar simply to bask in the staircase’s glory. “It’s wild,” he says. “There’s a new angle to admire every day. People deserve to see it.” Daytime hours see the staircase illuminated in natural light compliments of a circular skylight, thereby moving an encounter with the structure ever closer to a religious experience. The interior is fitted out in a timeless, sophisticated style by Cremorne-based furniture store Arthur G, and the black-and-white colour palette is suitably simple and congruent with the modern architecture. If, by chance, you are a furniture design enthusiast, then you will very much appreciate the Diane Bergeron custom couch.
The Harvie food menu is a straightforward selection of bar snacks, build-your-own meat-and-cheese platters and share plates. Specifics include smoked almonds, wasabi macadamias, D’Affinois double brie, Diablo Manchego (a hard, intense Spanish sheep’s milk cheese), saucisson, prosciutto di San Danielle, chilli hummus with smoked paprika (made by Savvas’ mum), duck-and-cherry pâté and the jewel in the Harvie culinary crown, the robust-to-the-point-of-overflowing lobster-and-prawn roll. Of course, for guests whose meals are incomplete without a sugar hit, a crème brûlée tart is also available. The carefully selected wine list is comprised of offerings from Australia, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Argentina, even Greece – a red, in fact, in the form of a goumenissa from the Chatzivaritis winery. A modest beer selection and cocktails, including an organic Negroni, round out the drinks menu. Harvie operates Tuesday-Thursday from 3pm-11pm, Friday and Saturday from 1pm-midnight and Sunday, 1pm-10pm. Delicious food, thoughtful drinks, local history, cutting-edge design and architecture and dazzling sunsets – truly, what more could the heart desire?