Shebeen is located in Manchester Lane in the Melbourne CBD, and has an interesting concept behind it. Shebeen is a bar that serves good honest, tasty and fresh food during lunchtimes, with 100% profits from every drink (beer or wine) all of which are sourced from developing nations – go back to a charity in that drink’s country of origin. This is the first of its kind in Australia.
A Shebeen is usually four walls made of corrugated iron with someone’s mama inside brewing her own beer and were illegal during apartheid in South African cities – such as Zimbabwe and were designed to be shutdown hastily. This is where this not-for-profit bar gets it name from. Here in Melbourne, the fit out is of corrugated iron as well and you step inside to a lively and friendly environment that is reminiscent of a shack. There are mismatched tables and chairs covered in hoodies and jumpers, stools are covered in printed fabrics from Kenya and staff uniforms have been designed from Melbourne fashion house Alpha 60. The atmosphere is electric (even when I go at lunch time) – and is quirky, fun, different and colourful.
Shebeen is the brainchild of co-founders Simon Griffiths and Zanna McCormish and was inspired by time the duo spent working in the developing world and realising the lack of funding. The South African roots continue with venue manager Sharon Custers.
Its great to know beverage companies like Schweppes and Brown-Forman and interior architects Foolscap either donated products or gave their time and services for cost price or pro bono. All the food and cocktails on the menu are inspired by the 11 developing countries being supported through the initiative. Bar manager Sam Francis has tested several different recipes and all the ingredients are fresh and sauces and pickling of everything is done in house.
The menu consists of Banh Mi’s – there are four different types to choose from including one vegetarian option, as well as sliders and cheeses. Since they are made fresh as you order them, you can tell them if you want certain things taken out or added to your Banh Mi’s. There is also hand-made ice cream which comprises of four very different flavours that you will not find anywhere else guaranteed. Flavours include – Thai chilli lime sorbet, cayenne cantaloupe sorbet – both of which are vegan option (yep they have thought about everything!), choc coconut rocky road and Jesus juice (Pepsi and pinotagel). Doesn’t that just make you want to go try it out right away?
The Banh Mi’s was fresh and authentic. I got the Vietnamese Lime Marinated Tofu with Crispy Noodles. The flavours worked well together and the sauce and chilli combined made for a great Banh Mi. I enjoyed the addition of the crispy noodles – I haven’t had that in a Banh Mi before.
The menu is like a book, as it describes some of the charities that Shebeen has already helped out and I think this is a great way to tell the customer where the money is going and what exactly the money will improve and how. The drinks list is extensive and as said previously comes from varying countries. They also have a range of cocktails to choose from as well each with an interesting name such as First World Problems, Lychee Longtime and Earl Grey Tini to name a few. Coffee and Tea is also available – and is not what you would usually find at your everyday café. The Coffee is Ethiopian single origin or Vietnamese style, the Chai is handmade with Rooibos tea. I had their Chai and it was delicious and creamy – definitely one of the better chai’s I have tasted.
The staff are knowledgeable and passionate about the charity organisations. There is also a cinema space and a band room and Shebeen hopes to be hosting parties soon enough, to keep with their lively and entertaining vibe. On most evenings there will be entertainment and live music.
After years of being pop up stores, I am glad Shebeen has found a new permanent home to stay. The concept is great and what’s better than eating and drinking at a place where you know the money you spend is going to a great cause. A good time as well as feeling great! Awesome!
From the Shebeen Website: We donate 100% of our profits, and your choice at the bar determines where they end up. Here’s how it works… Every beer, wine, cider and margarita sale sends funds back to that drink’s country of origin. We’ve made sure your money ends up in the right pockets by scouring the globe to find some of the smartest organisations tackling poverty in the developing world. So sit back and leave us to do the hard work while you feel good—even tomorrow morning.
Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Menu – Can be found at www.shebeen.com.au/media/W1siZiIsIjIwMTMvMDUvMTAvMDdfNThfMjdfODI0X1NoZWJlZW5fbWVudS5wZGYiXV0/Shebeen+menu.pdf
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun, Entertaining and Lively atmosphere – great place to go for after work drinks.
Standout Dish: Any of the Banh Mi’s
Service: Super friendly and enthusiastic!
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
36 Manchester Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9650 6931
Monday to Sunday: 11am – Late