Two-Bit Villains: ballroom restaurant with a view

Two-Bit Villains, the Adelaide Arcade hotspot for all things homemade, delicious and delightful, is closing – and reopening just next door. The vegetarian wonderland has scuttled into the first-floor ballroom, quadrupling their floor and kitchen space.

The vegetarian wonderland has scuttled into the first-floor ballroom, quadrupling their floor and kitchen space. Since moving into their familiar 128 Adelaide Arcade residence in 2011, the popularity of Two-Bit Villains has grown enormously. Friday nights will see the mezzanine groaning under queues of people desperate for housemade soda, baskets of chilli fries and animal-friendly burgers. With demand so high and a space so small, owners Sass Ryan and Liam Hughes were ready to move out of the Arcade altogether – they simply needed more room. However, when they told Adelaide Arcade that they were planning to move, they were told to wait just a little longer – there was something special in the works. With the support of the Adelaide City Council’s Rundle Mall Innovation Fund, the Arcade was quietly refurbishing a grand ballroom at the northern end of the building, just under the big clock. Blacked-out interior windows used to shield office workers from prying eyes; this beautiful window panel is now scrubbed and painted with Two-Bit Villains’ golden name. Externally, what was once a pit of despair is now a beautiful deck: a balcony overlooking Rundle Mall. This will be the first time in 80 years that the balcony will be used. The outdoor area will (hopefully) lend itself to summertime drinks and maybe some music. Ryan and Hughes will be starting liquor licensing and entertainment discussions with the Adelaide City Council before too long. “They’ve been really helpful,” says Ryan of the Arcade, who were (unsurprisingly) keen to keep the diner on-site. “They’ve been very good to us.” The transformation of the space is staggering, and Ryan and Hughes are still adding their unique, vintage-inspired touches to the fit-out. Underneath vaulted ceilings stretches a long wooden bar, animal-print chairs, IKEA stools with handmade upholstery, jungle-cat statues, plants and lemony column decorations. The long room lends itself to a bigger gallery space, and they’re also setting up a smaller corner gallery to accommodate little exhibitions as well. The opening heralds a new era for the diner, with special conditions allowing them to extend opening hours to 9.30pm every night and start every day with brunch. To celebrate their new digs, the soda-pop crew will be releasing two brand new flavours: a cola and a sarsparilla. And, seriously, get excited: they’ve been working on some more edible alchemy behind the scenes. With the freedom of longer hours and a much-desired bigger kitchen, the Two-Bit Villains menu will be expanding: plated dinners with table service; a selection of desserts; brunch (brunch!) and more are on the way. Lunch and shareable edibles will still be on offer, so rest assured your favourites won’t be straying far. Lovers of Zen House and all things “not meat” will be pleased as punch to hear that Two Bit Villains has been working on a ridiculous new range of substitutes. Made in-house from scratch, but not from soy, the “chicken” and “pork” will be introduced on their new menu. Everything that leaves the kitchen will still be vegetarian or vegan, and they’ll be expanding the menu to include more gluten-free and FODMAP-friendly foods. Aside from all of that, they’re just happy that the new space is about to open. “It’s really exciting,” says Ryan. “This has been a long time coming.”

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