Auction Rooms is a casual cafe/restaurant set inside the old WB Ellis auction house in North Melbourne. In fact, the long wooden floorboards, exposed beams, distressed brickwork and high ceilings hoisting a series of whirring fans reminded me a lot of the interior of an airy Queenslander home. It seems like the kind of place where the dress code should be to kick around in shorts and despite its large size the atmosphere was still warm and cosy. Unfortunately my iPhone photos don’t really do it justice.
Already in love with the stylish interior, we delved into the extensive dinner menu which contains about twenty dishes ranging in small bites to full meals. In the interests of research, we tried something from all parts of the list: extremely moreish rosemary polenta chips with a slightly bland smoked paprika mayonnaise ($7.50), melt-in-your-mouth tender salt and pepper squid with caramelised lemon mayonnaise ($13), a light and spicy coconut duck salad with wombok, green papaya, snake beans and tamarind which could easily have been a meal in itself, and a rich beef cheek ravioli with hommus and braising reduction ($28). Every dish was punctuated by exclamations of ‘OMG this is so good!’ ‘Delicious’ ‘We’ve got to come back!’. We didn’t have room for dessert unfortunately, but my choice would have been the chocolate and banana spring rolls with vanilla bean labna ($12).
The food at Auction Rooms is so fantastic that I would happily cross town to try the rest of their menu of hits. Apparently their coffee is very good too and they are one of a slew of speciality coffee shops (with siphon coffee) that have recently opened in Melbourne. It’s the sort of place where I think there’s something for everyone, whether you’re on a date or with a group of friends, looking for brunch options or a glass of wine and nibbles before a night on the town.