21 May Abacus, South Yarra
Abacus was one of the much anticipated openings of late 2017. Its name is a throwback to Westpac, the former occupants of this triple-frontage site, and the design of the lighting fixtures above the coffee counter gives another nod to the site’s history and new beginnings. The space is light and airy, making use of its corner position by having plenty of bi-fold windows on two sides. It has a park-like, concrete jungle vibe thanks to its strong use of timbers, stone, brass, marble tables, and wicker furniture, all interspersed by plenty of greenery. The high ceilings even accommodates a tree in the centre of the room. You’d never guess this used to be a bank.
Abacus has a paddock-to-plate philosophy. Both day and night menus are focused around the use of their wood-fired oven, and the concept of clean eating. Baking, curing, and smoking happens in-house, and they go so far as to milling their own flour, and keeping their own bees for honey.
Pizza dough, made from their house-milled flour, is topped with seasonal ingredients. The thin base of the seafood pizza is decked out in pickled octopus, clams, sea parsley, and capers. A pair of smoked crispy, deep-fried trout wings heralds the coming of the sea treasures that they crown. There’s a good garlic flavour throughout, the seafood is handled well, and everything is melded together by a thin, oozy layer of buffalo mozzarella.
Cubes of speck are revealed, and gruyere strings out from the centre, as we tear the golden croquettes apart. Good thing these are available both day and night. The classic combination of chorizo and octopus makes an appearance too. A single charred and tender octopus tentacle is teamed up with vibrant salsa verde, lime aioli, chorizo, and wasabi leaf.
The plate of seasonal greens is today composed of broccolini and thinly shaved cucumber – tasty and slathered in butter. Chunky potato wedges with lime aioli round off the sides, before we finish with a super flakey croissant and pain au chocolat, both baked in the wood-fired oven.
Abacus is an ambitious project. They have a commendable dedication to their vision, topped off by an impressive interior, and their intriguing produce-focussed daytime menu may see me return.
Disclaimer: I dined courtesy of Abacus, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own, and are based on my experience at the time
383 Chapel St
South Yarra, VIC, 3141
(03) 9824 1026