When the owners of the former St Judes Cellar Bar in Fitzroy grew tired of the restaurant’s stark, clinical interiors, rather than merely give the space a facelift they decided to perform a full body transplant instead – bringing their popular Rice Queen restaurant in Smith Street to a new location make everything old new again.
So, starting with the building’s exterior shell, owners, Laki and his wife, Marion, introduced a darker, rougher colour palette and experimented with bold illustrations on the building’s front façade which stare down at you from above.
Inside, the reddish tinges of Japanese lanterns and pinkish glow from illuminated cherry blossom lights literally bounce up off the polished concrete flooring underfoot.
Walking through an enclosed smoking area and through glass panelled doors into Rice Queen’s main dining room, it’s clear that this is where the party’s at thanks to a conspicuously placed DJ booth to the right of the space.
Marion, a visual merchandiser by trade, introduced a sense of quirk thanks to the blue painted feature wall and Asian-inspired knick knacks and photo frames, while the turquoise floral artwork above the kitchen has been designed by local artist, Greg Fields.
Grungy but not quite dirty, the whole room gives the impression of an opium den of years gone by. The central bar and much of the seating have been salvaged from the wreckage of St Judes, just improved to fit the much sexier mood.
And when the spicy cocktails and DJ tunes have had their way with you and the night calls out to dance, Rice Queen even has its very own karaoke booth hidden behind the main seating area, decorated with colourful curtains and cushioned seats upholstered in bright fabrics from Warwick.
So unwind from the nine-to-five in this deliciously dark and moody interior space. You never know where the Rice Queen might take you.