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Miami Vice and Mai Tais over Russian Market

A Rum Rangoon on the counter overlooking Russian Market.
A Rum Rangoon on the counter overlooking Russian Market. Eliah Lillis

Miami Vice and Mai Tais over Russian Market

Three stories above the hustle and bustle of Russian Market’s northern edge, where local vendors hawk fresh fruits and vegetables and butchers take their cleavers to slabs of meat, the newly opened Sundown Social Club provides a rooftop oasis of calm where you can have a bite, sip on a Mai Tai and coolly watch the street scene below.

The 1980s Miami-themed venue is the project of the Australian duo Nathan Headlam and Brendan McCarthy, who, after the success of their first venture Long After Dark, got to work on Sundown in September of last year.

“The main inspiration was proximity. It’s literally 200 metres around the corner from the other one, so it was obvious to contrast it in as many ways as possible… Everything from the music, the aesthetic, the atmosphere the décor even the time of day,” McCarthy says.

The open-air rooftop, with a retractable roof for when it rains, is coloured by blue and pink pastel tones and lighting that bounces yellows off the woven lampshades for after sunset. The lounge music playing over the sound system muffles the clamour of the street, while remaining unobtrusive to conversation.

“It’s more of a casual dining thing,” McCarthy says of the menu, adding “this is very much like a street-food inspired menu”.

To cover their bases, Headlam and McCarthy included vegetarian and vegan options such as the onion pakoras ($4.50) and the BBQ jackfruit burger ($5).

The fish tacos ($5.50) with home-made tortillas are two-to-a-serving and make for a light and delicious meal. To wash it down, there’s wine and beer on tap but our recommendation is to choose one of the tropical-themed rum-based cocktails such as the Rum Rangoon ($6).

In a sizeable group, McCarthy and Headlam propose a selection of cocktail jugs.

“We’ve got three on there [the menu] and we’ll add more,” Headlam notes. While the Sundown Social Club has its soft opening tonight, they say the menu will gain a few more additions ahead of the ‘hard’ launch in a few weeks time.

But if there’s one standout feature the venue has to offer, it’s the view, which – while not highly elevated like many other spots in town – provides “the constant energy of the market” as well the light spectrum of the Cambodian sunset.

“We saw the space … and were blown away by the view, and that sort of prompted us to go for it sooner than what I guess we had first envisaged,” Headlam says, as McCarthy quickly follows: “It was too good to pass up.”

Sundown Social Club is located at #86 Street 440, and is open from noon-10pm on weeknights, until 11pm on weekend nights and is closed Mondays.

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