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My Melbourne: Liam Ganley

26 Feb 2019

For an Irishman who'd never worked in a bar or restaurant before opening his first Melbourne eatery, Liam Ganley has done pretty well for himself. And food and drink lovers of Melbourne are glad he’s around.

A construction project manager in Ireland turned gastronomic guru, the Global Financial Crisis was the catalyst for Liam making his way to Melbourne town in 2011. Although he hadn’t work in hospitality before moving to Melbourne, the groundwork had been laid with his fiancé owning a cafe in Ireland and an uncle who owned a pub where he spent many summers growing up.

“Shortly after we arrived in Melbourne my fiancée got a job managing a cafe and bakery called Brasserie Bread,” Liam says. “The hospitality scene in Melbourne fascinated me and eventually led me to opening the first business, Lemon Middle and Orange Cafe, in Collingwood.”

Now Liam is recognised as the man behind some of St Kilda’s best-loved hot spots — Freddie Wimpoles and The Fifth Province. Early last year, he expanded to Prahran with Angus & Bon, a swanky steakhouse.

“I’ve always liked Greville Street — it has a real European feel," says Liam. "I frequently go down there for a beer. AC/DC played one of their first Melbourne shows at Greville Street’s now closed Station Hotel in January 1975. In tribute, Angus & Bon is named after the band’s guitarist Angus Young and late lead singer Bon Scott.”

What sets Angus and Bon apart? It’s incredible steaks (that come without the hefty price tag), as well as the casual yet sophisticated atmosphere.

“Our steaks are cooked on our custom-built wood grill. We use ironbark — a dense wood that produces high heat. You get a unique smoky flavour that you simply can’t get cooking over gas,” he explains.

Creating the sleek yet welcoming vibe of this character-filled restaurant is its setting. It has taken up residence at the Old Prahran Post Office along Greville Street in Prahran, taking advantage of recent council developments to improve the street.

“The building already had that really unique feel about it — it feels like a New York steakhouse. I love heritage buildings and Georgian and Victorian-style architecture. Buildings like the former Prahran Post office don’t come up often.”

Inside, it’s all class.T his isn’t a surprise since it was worked on by Melbourne-based design collective Bergman & Co. lead by interiors expert Wendy Bergman. Her CV also includes the funky GoGo Bar and the coastal-meets-chic Middle Brighton Baths. Liam’s brief here though, was to create a luxe New York style steakhouse setting.

“I wanted the venue to have two unique spaces, so there’s a relaxed front bar where guests can sit and have a beer or cocktail while grazing on bar snacks, and a dining room to the rear with views into the kitchen and wood grill,” Liam explains. “The dining room has beautiful leather clam booths and a mix of large round tables and intimate tables for two.”

Liam finds the ever-changing nature and diversity of Melbourne’s dining scene inspiring, as both a restaurant owner in the industry and as Melburnian experiencing what the city has to offer.

“It’s constantly evolving in terms of design and concepts, then somewhere like The Espy reopens and resets the bar again for pubs. The variety here is amazing — it’s a foodie’s dream and there’s something for everyone.”

When he isn’t running the show at Angus & Bon, Liam is either checking out what’s happening in other bars and restaurants around Melbourne or exploring the rest of the city’s offerings.

“I love the parks and beaches, the hospitality scene and the sport. The lifestyle, in general, is great in Melbourne.”

Liam’s Melbourne Picks

Restaurant It’s a tie between Stokehouse and MoVida. Stokehouse is a Melbourne institution. The food is always amazing, the setting is breath-taking and the sunsets even better! MoVida is a favourite of mine because I love the casual vibe, fast pace and the beautiful tapas. Plus you get a real taste for Melbourne culture as it’s located at Hosier Lane.

Cafe Entrecote in South Yarra. This is my local cafe. It’s a French-style bistro, with a beautiful light-filled Victorian terrace overlooking the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Bar Leonards House of Love in South Yarra. It’s essentially a little house with a bar and feels like a ski lodge. It has a pool table, huge beer garden and the best fried chicken and burgers in town!

View Sunsets at St Kilda Beach are spectacular.

Free thing to do I love to go for a run around The Tan.

Hidden gem The Standard Hotel in Fitzroy is a proper old Aussie pub, full of locals. They have local beers on tap and great
pub grub.