Carlton’s answer to the rooftop craze is all about spectacular views and easy drinking
On a sunny Saturday evening, Johnny’s Green room is heaving. The rooftop bar at Carlton’s King & Godfrey adds a new element to this iconic Lygon Street business. After being closed for rennos for over three years, the decades-old gourmet purveyor is finally back, offering café service, deli goods and a great selection of European and local wines to take away on the ground floor. But up the lifts you’ll find a big and bright patio bar serving beer, wine, cocktails and snacks. From this lofty position, Carlton is snapping back at the rooftop bar explosion in the CBD and Fitzroy, proving that Melbourne’s original hospitality precinct can do anything the city can do, too.
Spectacular 270-degree views towards the city skyline are only broken by the tops of Carton’s plane trees in full summer flourish, while canvas awnings and umbrellas offer plenty of shade. There are at least two hen’s parties here tonight, and the raucous conversations feel fun rather than overbearing with no walls or ceiling to echo off. The beautiful people of Carlton sip Aperol Spritzes on tap, and DJs let their easy listening beats provide unobtrusive background sounds.
It’s seriously busy, the 200-capacity venue full to the brim, so book in early for groups or expect to wait in line downstairs on a weekend. Even if there’s space at your table, they won’t let mates skip the line to join you unless you’ve pre-booked a function. Despite the onslaught, bar service is remarkably quick and efficient. They’ve set this place up for high-volume from day dot, and done a good job if it. On a Sunday arvo the space is far more chilled, with a wide range of ages enjoying a catch-up in the sun.
Cocktails are all fresh and fun, but vary in quality. The signature K&G Spritz is a sweet and herbaceous combo of Italian Amari, grapefruit and prosecco providing a good zesty lift, while a cocktail of tequila and falernum (a spiced Jamaican syrup), tastes mostly of lime. Beer is approachable and weather-appropriate with Peroni and Mountain Goat Steam ale on tap, but there’s also a Garage Project NEIPA and a Sample Blood Orange Spritz which tastes like a bittersweet Fanta shandy.
Snacks include a rainbow delight of heirloom tomatoes in Caprese salad form, and satisfyingly cheesy arancini served on excellent tomato sugo. If you’re proper hungry, there’s an eggplant parma that sees slabs of eggplant baked with layers of sauce and melty cheese rather than breaded and fried. As piles of soft eggplant go, it’s pretty good – the sauce especially bright and sweet – but it suffers from a lack of texture. Wines mostly focus on Italian varietals grown locally. Zilzie rose on tap is zippy, fresh, and perfect for sipping in the sun with just enough acid to balance the flavour of ripe strawberry.
If you love Naked for Satan, the rooftop at the Imperial, or hanging out at the Australian Open, this bar is right up your cobblestoned Carlton alley. It’s another venue proving that in 2019, this neighbourhood can do a lot more than cheap pasta for tourists.
|Venue name:||Johnny’s Green Room|
Level 3, 293-297 Lygon Street
|Opening hours:||Daily noon-late|