Cabinet Bar & Balcony is a hidden CBD gem

With ceiling fans spinning overhead, giant chalkboard menus and small wooden tables sitting on a tiled floor, this spot has a nice “old-timey” feel to it.

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Image source: 
Jess Prescott

Tucked away in Rainbow Alley, behind Swanston and Little Collins, is Cabinet Bar & Balcony. A small doorway with a speakeasy vibe leads to a staircase littered with framed portraits of patrons (with a bunch of cocktails also named after their regulars).

With ceiling fans spinning overhead, giant chalkboard menus and small wooden tables sitting on a tiled floor, this spot has a nice “old-timey” feel to it. Paisley wallpaper lines the walls decorated with hanging chairs, giving the venue a unique style all to itself. The look is complete with a wood-panelled bar occupied by polite, smartly dressed staff awaiting your order. Head up a few steps and you’ll find yourself on a wooden deck overlooking Swanston Street, perfect for after-work drinks or a laid-back evening amongst the treetops.

It’s a modest but well-stocked bar focusing on cocktails and wine, with Orion beer on tap and an extensive beer and cider list by the bottle. Having celebrated their tenth birthday last year, Cabinet have found what they’re good at and perfected it. With bar jars, martinis and “not so sweets” taking up the majority of their drinks menu, you’re sure to find a cocktail to quench your thirst.

They boast a delicious tapas menu, offering patrons a variety of tastes to compliment their drink choices. The halloumi sliders are beautifully crumbed and cooked to perfection, topped with a fig chutney that gives an incredible sweet flavour against the salty cheese. They go down easily as a nice light snack. With four to a serve, they’re perfect for sharing - if you feel like giving one up.

The Cabinet popcorn chicken is made with lean chicken pieces in a deliciously crunchy breading that’s prepared in-house. Served with lime and chilli mayo for that extra kick, it’s not greasy at all, with each piece being generous in size. They’re incredibly moreish and perfect for snacking while enjoying a drink in the sun.

The flatbread range is for those seeking a bigger meal. Each option is made with fresh flatbread that stays soft even after being in the oven. They’re not overloaded with toppings, letting each ingredient stand on its own.

With a variety of specials throughout the week and a regular happy hour, Cabinet is the perfect CBD spot to tie one on after work or relax with friends on the weekend.


What makes the restaurant you work at special? What makes Cabinet Bar so special is our huge base of regular customers. With our long-standing staff members we almost know everyone that walks up the stairs. What’s also special is that you can watch the sun go down and the passers below on Swanston Street, while you enjoy cocktails or wines from the carefully chosen list or a delicious meal.

Tell us about your menu. A delicious tapas menu takes you through a range of tastes and side dishes to compliment any of our wines. You can enjoy an ever-changing flatbread pizza menu, or just huddle over a warm mulled wine. With all our cocktails being named after our regulars customers – like our Lucy Loosey bar jar – filled with fresh strawberries, St Germain liquor, gin, mint and lime, you can work your way through, trying all our regular inspired drinks.

Do you have anything special coming up in winter? All through winter we run our mulled wine, using the same recipe as when we opened over ten years ago. It’s made with a heavy Shiraz, dark rum, whiskey, fresh orange, lime and with plenty of spices. This is definitely a winter favourite, with just enough sweetness to warm you up on cold Melbourne days.We also run a $10 flatbread pizza special from 12pm-3pm between Monday and Friday (Wednesdays until 8pm), have $10 margaritas all day on a Monday, and have our daily happy hour from 5.30pm to 6.30pm (all day Tuesday).

Find Cabinet Bar & Balcony at 11 Rainbow Alley, Melbourne.