Wandering around Melbourne City Center, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by choice. Every street and corner has something new to look at, with many laneways filled to the brim with restaurants and cafes. Sometimes though, it’s the little hidden spots that are the most rewarding—like Sun Moth Canteen & Bar tucked away down the middle of Niagara Lane, identifiable from a distance by only an unassuming pot plant.
Upon entering Sun Moth, it’s immediately clear that making the curious venture down Niagara Lane is worth it. Surprisingly spacious and open, Sun Moth is an all-day canteen and bar that encompasses delicious and healthy food, quality coffee, and a carefully selected array of wine, beer, and spirits.
Run and owned by Luke Mutton and Kylie Mackinlay (former owners of Dead Man Espresso and Common Galaxia), Jackson Duxbury, and Tod La Mar, Sun Moth is a true collaborative effort. Mutton explained to me their goal in opening this new venture is “to be known for good coffee, beer, and wine in equal parts,” so that people can both start and end their days at Sun Moth.
It’s an ambitious goal, but one that seems achievable for this particular team. A regular day starts out with fresh juice, coffee, and breakfast. Coffee is sourced from the likes of Small Batch Roasting Company and Market Lane Coffee, with espressos pulled through a La Marzocco Linea Classic, and filter batch-brewed with a Fetco—all ground on the prolific Mahlkönig EK 43. Breakfast here is simple and satisfying, with the option of poached eggs, bircher muesli, porridge, or even a kale salad.
As it heads into lunchtime, the vibrant selection of wine, beer, and spirits becomes the focus, alongside hearty lunch fare. Here you’ll find five-grain risotto or chicken dumpling soup that you can pair with a glass of Jakot from Radikon, or a pot of Kölsch beer from Mornington Peninsula Brewery. Then, if you don’t want to leave, you can plug in your laptop and make use of the free Wi-Fi until you’re ready for dinner (and maybe another glass of wine).
The design inside Sun Moth is well considered, warm, and inviting, which isn’t surprising seeing as the folks behind the interior design were the same people who were going to work in the space—Mutton and Mackinlay, under the guise of their Sunkland Projects, Design | Own | Operate business. For the realisation of the design elements, Illogical Study built the stunning counter and stools, while Life Space Journey crafted the unique lights and beautiful chairs. All together, these individual features create an establishment that’s perfect for a quick morning coffee, a long working lunch, and even a casual dinner.
Chatting to Mutton, it’s clear that the task of combining specialty coffee alongside quality food, wine, beer, and spirits has been a rewarding one for the Sun Moth crew. As he explained, “It’s so exciting to see this natural progression from specialty coffee to natural wine. We feel our timing was spot on . . . on a Friday night, we can be full of all our buddies in the coffee industry: roasters, baristas, and cafe owners who love the beers and wines. A respect for good farming and transparency in coffee can give you a total appreciation for natural, organic, and biodynamic wines.”
While it’s only the beginning for Sun Moth Canteen & Bar, Mutton and the team have set out on a good foot. In the future, they intend to continue sourcing the most delicious and interesting beverages, with a long-term goal of getting a retail license to set up a little bottle shop within the venue. Essentially, it’s heading towards being a one-stop shop for all sorts of deliciousness in Melbourne’s CBD, which is great—just remember to duck out for a walk and some fresh air between meals.