|Chaise Fridays||24th of May, 4:30pm|
Open: Mon-Thu 4pm-midnight, Fri 4pm-3am, Sat 9pm-3am
No-one's quite sure whether you should use the original French pronunciation, or the more pragmatic Australian 'Chase Lounge'. Whatever the case, this basement venue has been operating for over a decade, making it a true stayer in the volatile Melbourne entertainment scene. A bar with a dash of nightclub, Chaise offers more intimacy and class than most of its contemporaries.
Its small area is well served by two modest bars, while the decor lives up to the opulence implied by Chaise's name: velvet couches with carved wooden backs and scrolled arms; improvised end tables made from old-style chests of drawers and dressers; tasselled lampshades in deep red tones. The look is completed with ornate vases and mirror frames, and the occasional oddity, like a wrought-iron wine rack. The only incongruity is the spray of mirror balls across the ceiling, but, presumably, these have now been made compulsory by the International Disco Federation.
There is a surprisingly eclectic and well-picked spirit range packed into the small bar space, and a solid cocktail list. The house recommends the classic Mojito, while the blackberry-infused Bramble also looks the part. Additionally, it's lovely to find serving staff who are far more relaxed and friendly than most of those in similar establishments. Beers are reasonably priced for this venue type, starting at $6.50 for Coopers and $7 for imports.
Wednesdays and Thursdays are chill-out cocktail sessions with couches galore, while weekends see much of the furniture cleared out so dancers can make use of Friday's house and electro tunes, and Saturday's retro party vibe. Expect to queue and pay cover charges after about 10.30pm on weekends. Weeknights are free, and you'll also stand a much better chance of a quiet conversation.