A “shadow boxer” is defined as “a person who moves his/her hands and feet as though he/she is boxing someone”. In other words, it is a person who engages in a practice, of sorts - a preparation, more specifically - in order to conquer an opponent. Though the eponymous wine bar and modern Australian restaurant located at 302 Toorak Road, South Yarra, may be aptly described as such, its name actually has nothing to with the denotation. Rather, Shadowboxer Bar and Kitchen was named after one of the co-owner’s daughter. Michael Thom, who runs the triple-award-winning wine cellar – an impressive 2-glass rating from Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards for 2018, 2019 and 2020 – decided the name should be attributed to his daughter who, at 6 months of age, kept her arms and legs constantly on the move. Little did this 6-month-old know what kind of beauty, delight and satisfaction her nickname would unleash on the Melbourne drinking and dining scene.

Opened in December, 2016, Shadowboxer Bar and Kitchen is the fruit of nearly 7 years’ worth of seed planting by co-owners Michael Thom, Luke Thompson and Nick Aitken. The threesome noticed an obvious canyon in the Toorak Road drinking and dining canvas – the strip was absent of a bar and eatery that was both high end and casual. Needless to say, they were quick to fill it. And fill it, they most certainly did. Shadowboxer is set within an original terrace home that was built in 1895. The physical space is relaxed, yet refined – a polished, light interior designed by Melbourne-based studio Fiona Lynch. In this atmosphere, diners and drinkers will discover an anodized metal bar, a jaw-droppingly gigantic wine rack and bar stools that will make even the most finicky of furniture enthusiasts blush – all of which, by the way, have been custom-made. Additionally, the venue boasts a front, sunny 2-tiered terrace and 2 separate inside dining spaces, complete with banquette seating. So far, so good. Now that the bare bones have been described, it is time to fill them out.

Shadowboxer, South Yarra

Shadowboxer, South Yarra

Shadowboxer, South Yarra

The dual passions responsible for Shadowboxer’s ongoing success are its exclusively Australian wine list and its rolling, seasonal food menu. To reiterate, Michael Thom’s wine cellar is a triple-award-winning creation. It has been heralded by Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards with a 2-glass rating for 2018, 2019 and 2020. Not bad, really, particularly considering that Australian-only wine lists are few and far between. Furthermore, the wines are sourced solely from small local vineyards. The accompanying food menu is approachable, concise and precisely versatile, in regards to the wine offerings. The duck ribs served with house barbecue sauce and jalapeno aioli are a standout. If adventure is part of your culinary make-up, try the Paroo kangaroo tartare. Paroo refers to the Paroo Darling region of Far West New South Wales, in case you were wondering. This dish is garnished with a quail egg, finger lime and a potato crisp. Just…amazing! For a choice on the heartier end of the spectrum, the beef brisket tortellini – cauliflower cream, pangrattato, jus – will leave you wanting more, believe it or not. And, finally, the poached barramundi with pepperonata, preserved lemon and capers seals the deal for the seafarers in attendance. Oh, yeah, it is worth mentioning – beyond worth mentioning, to be certain – that Shadowboxer offers a 10-item charcuterie menu. A charcuterie menu in a restaurant is a privilege. Remember that. Follow this with a cheese selection and/or perhaps a selection from the dessert menu – lemon myrtle cheesecake, thank you – and your dining adventure is adequately finalised. The only item remaining on your to-do list now is to confirm your next booking. Enjoy.

Lifestyle & Design

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