Originally published on Broadsheet.
A neighbourhood thirsty for more bar options gets cocktails and craft beers in an old heritage bank. And there’s an outdoor tiki bar adorned in fairy lights.
For Bentleigh locals it’s a foreign concept to get a drink close to home. A few pubs, and wine bar Wolfe and Malone, have, until now, rounded out the local bar offering.
So Sonder, a new spot on Centre Road right near Bentleigh train station, is a welcome addition.
Housed in a heritage building formerly home to a State Savings Bank, Sonder is an indoor and outdoor bar owned by Steve Kingi, a bayside local behind three businesses in nearby Highett, including Mexican restaurant and bar Hot Lips Hacienda, Vietnamese diner Typhoon and its adjoining bar, Hawker Bar.
“A lot of locals are pretty happy we’ve given them somewhere to drink close to home,” Kingi says.
Splinter Society designed the 300-seat venue. The firm (also behind the fit-out for Brunswick live-music venue Howler) has created a warm space with lots of ambience. You’ll find comfy cushioned banquettes and plenty of large tables for groups.
Outside is a little more playful; it’s filled with teal-coloured chairs, tiki-style umbrellas, fairy lights and lanterns. The space has its own bar so there’s no need to trot inside for one of the 10 craft beers on tap, which includes Collingwood’s Stomping Ground and Cheltenham’s Bad Shepherd. There’s also an extensive cocktail list with all the classics plus some Sonder signatures, too.
The Sonder Sunset feels right for warmer days; it has peach sake, passionfruit and prosecco. The Bentleigh Garden combines vodka with elderflower liqueur, cucumber, lemon, egg white and soda, and the Ginger Gentleman is a whisky option with ginger, black walnut and bitters.
The food menu is “uncomplicated”, Kingi says, and he’s not underplaying it: you’ll find pizzas, and a cheese board of three rotating Victorian cheeses to go with an Australian-heavy wine list.
438 Centre Road, Bentleigh
Tue to Thu 4pm–11pm
Fri & Sat 4pm–midnight
Photography: Jessica Prince.