I had double checked that the restaurant would be open. And triple checked that we were in the right place. I had researched and waited months for this opportunity – our first trip the the city together. “They call this the ‘New York End’ of Melbourne” I said to Dale as we passed sleek modern skyscrapers that housed offices and condominiums. He paused, looked up, and said “I can see that, actually.” Finally, we arrived. I said, “Ok, I’ll tell you where we’re going… inside here is a hidden bar and we have to find it by pulling a book out of a bookcase.”
Dale’s expression was a mixture of excitement and disbelief. We were standing outside State of Grace on the west end of Collins Street in the center of Melbourne. “But first,” I added, “We have to find the bookcase. I have no idea where it’s supposed to be.”
And so we stepped through the wrought iron-adorned doorway into State of Grace. The bar was to our right with a couple of staff serving customers who were in for afternoon drinks. Other patrons were eating early dinners of steak and other scrumptious-looking fare.
Velvet lounge chairs, gilded framed-pictures, candles on tabletops, and an imposing taxidermied giraffe head filled the room to our left. Still no sign of the bookcase, however.
Dale waited next to the door while I went in search of the bathroom to wash my hands. I pushed aside a door that I thought would lead me to the bathroom but instead lead me to a smaller room with another door in front of me and – lo and behold – a bookcase to my right. After I hurriedly washed my hands I all but bounced back to Dale.
“I found it!” I squealed, excitedly. The bookcase was already open, with a sign that said “Out of Order”. It was disappointing that we didn’t get to experiment with pulling out the books but we crossed the threshold all the same and descended the stairs into a dark cellar bar named Fall from Grace.
The excitement of finding our first hidden bar only added to the first impression Fall from Grace had on us. The chamber was full of candles, some with pools of melted wax, that illuminated nooks and crannies. Velvet-backed chairs liked the ones we had seen on our search above were tucked away in near darkness. Papers with interesting text plastered the pillars in the middle of the room and several oversize mirrors lined the wall. Near the ceiling behind the bar were racks storing hundreds of dusty wine bottles. Taxidermied deer heads decorated the bar back and two very large crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling as if they were the sparkly icing on a very ornate cake.
We took a seat in a corner away from the bar and ordered drinks. As we were there for the experience more than anything, we kept our libations on the cheaper side of things. Though their extensive cocktail and wine list would not disappoint, should one want to splurge.
Dale and I sank deeper into the couch we shared as we sipped our drinks and took in the atmosphere of it all. My guess is that he was still reeling from the concept of a hidden bar and I was just as in awe of it. Our conversation turned back and forth from silly things to deeper things as we contemplated the deliciously unsettling experience of finding hidden bars.
What: Fall from Grace
Where: 477 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000
How: Find the bookcase hidden in State of Grace. Select the right book and the bookcase will slide open to reveal Fall from Grace. Descend to the adventure below.