“This for me is our most polished offering but at the same time it should still feel approachable, it should still have a rawness to it but not as raw as we’ve historically been known for,” says Ian Callahan, co-owner of Malvern’s new local, Lo. Ki.
The latest hospitality offering to trade the hustle and bustle of the CBD for roots in the suburbs, Lo. Ki offers a small bar setting minus the grandeur. For Ian, who also owns the cult-classic Bar 9, the café meets wine bar is a return to his former Parkside stomping grounds.
“Originally, we were looking at doing a brunch style café but then as we started piecing together the site, the area and who’s around the concept started fleshing out to be something beyond what Bar 9 could’ve offered,” explains Ian.
“I think Bar 9 has had its ego days, while this is far more humble”.
Crafting a space that can be “whatever it is to you”, Lo. Ki trades grandiose statement pieces in favour of a modest ambiance. “I wanted to make sure people felt like the colour in the room,” says Ian. “It’s the people who bring the atmosphere because as they’re coming and going they’re the ones with the stories”.
A careful consideration of details is clear throughout, as evidenced by the tables, which are constructed from recycled sleepers. “The tables were the homes that were down on South Road before the demolition, [so] we try and keep our carbon impact as minimal as possible through that,” explains Ian.
Floor to ceiling windows dominate the northern wall, allowing an abundance of natural light to spill throughout the space and an opportunity for greenery by Little Ivy to flourish.
Brunch at Lo. Ki may be reminiscent of Bar 9’s offerings but with former Auge head chef, Dan Milburn, heading the kitchen the menu is elevated far beyond its predecessor’s penchant for breakfast.
Smokey Bay oysters take pride of place, freshly shucked to order and served Naturale, Vincotto & Apple Cider or A La Grecue. “We’re able to get oysters crazy fresh, if we don’t move them the fishery will simply collect them and push them through their other mediums, so that way we’ve always got really, really, really fresh oysters,” Ian explains.
An emphasis on freshness extends across the menu, with everything processed in house. “If we’re curing something it’s cured in house, if we’re smoking something it’s smoked here, nothing’s processed offsite,” he says.
Making the most of Dan’s experience with Italian fare, Nonno’s Pasta is a stand out. “We’re making it low-key and approachable, which for me is what pasta should be, it shouldn’t be too fanciful, it shouldn’t be too pricey but it should be really good,” says Ian.
Of note, the Gnocchi with Pancetta, Mushroom and Parmesan is a collision of Bar 9’s fan-favourite Mushroom Ragu with freshly rolled pillows of pasta.
Equipped with beans by ONA Coffee, fellow Bar 9 alumni Rhys Woods is the man behind the machine. For Ian, selecting a roaster simply came down to what was in the cup. “In my opinion ONA are pushing some of the best coffee in Australia, some of the best coffee in the world”.
As for the wine list, “[it’s] being curated by Steven ter Horst, whose known for his chocolate but is also a massive wino”. Better yet, patrons are encouraged to explore South Australia’s abundant wine regions with all varietals available by the glass or the bottle.
Whether catching up with friends is synonymous with a mid-morning coffee date or a glass of vino after work, the message is simple and sincere, “we’re not trying to be the latest, greatest or hippest anything, it’s just a nice low-key space for the locals that is evidently quality driven,” says Ian.
“We don’t want to shout to the world about it, you should just be able to come in here and feel comfortable”.
WHERE: 235 Unley Road, Malvern
WHEN: Monday – Saturday: 07.30 – 16.00
COME HERE FOR: A space to make your own.
EXPECT TO SPEND: $-$$
OF NOTE: Evenings coming soon.
Photography by Ben Neale.