A train commute home may have you dreaming of beer and burgers, but what if I told you you could have the burgers and beer in a train carriage? It may not be moving, let alone taking you closer to home, but it will take you to an elevated dining experience.
Perched five stories above the ground in Collingwood, Easey’s train carriage restaurant and bar – open since May 2015 – has fast become a must-do Melbourne attraction, and for more reasons than just the epic city views.
The trains are masterpieces in themselves, covered with colourful graffiti artworks on the outside and decked out like an old-school American diner on the inside.
Co-owner Jimmy Hurlston said he wanted to celebrate graffiti’s influence on Melbourne.
“The trains are kind of the holy grail of graffiti,” he explains of the Hitachi trains.
“Graffiti was always traditionally done on walls but graffiti writers through New York decided that the best way to spread their message was to paint on trains because then they travel all around the city.”
That trend spread to Melbourne when graffiti was becoming more prevalent in the mid ’90s and early 2000s. It was around this time that the Hitachi trains were being decommissioned, and considered rare and special for graffiti artists to tag. They also held special significance as a ‘real Melbourne train’, with most being built in Newport.
“What we really wanted to do was celebrate graffiti as opposed to street art because there is a fairly distinct difference between the two of them. Graffiti is a rebellious thing, it’s an expression, and graffiti writers don’t get paid,” Hurlston says.
“Without graffiti there’s no street art and without that then people don’t get paid an exorbitant amount of money to paint murals and paint pretty pictures that everybody wants and that Melbourne has become so famous for.”
When the trains were being installed, Hurlston invited some of the most prolific Melbourne taggers of the time to come to Easey’s and do their thing. The artworks are updated regularly.
“The paintings change a lot. Like the streets it changes all the time,” he says, admitting they are due to be updated soon.
Aside from the fact that the whole building is a gallery to showcase graffiti art in itself, Hurlston hopes to open a gallery for graffiti artworks in the same building, with the first exhibitions soon to be announced.
“It’s very Melbourne. Melbourne celebrates street art and that’s why a lot of people come to Melbourne -it’s become one of Melbourne’s biggest tourist attractions,” he says.
Whether you come for the street art or to dine in a train carriage, it’s the only place like it in the world that is open to the public. Shoreditch – a hipster neighbourhood in London – is the only other place you’ll find train carriages on a roof, but they host a studio for a street artist instead. Yawn.
The restaurant takes up one of three train carriages sitting on the roof of the purpose-built building. Easey’s is the only carriage running all the way through, with the other two being split in two and hosting showrooms, offices and boardrooms.
Come for the trains but you’ll stay for the food, with mouth-watering burgers becoming their specialty.
When Hurlston wanted to celebrate Melbourne he didn’t just mean the artworks.
“I’m born and bred in Melbourne and this was an opportunity for me to celebrate all of the things I love about the city,” he says.
With an appreciation for the classic fish and chip shops, the restaurant put its own spin on things with the most famous burger being one that contains potato cakes and dim sims.
“It’s my little ode to the fish and chip shop whilst trying to progress it and change it,” he says.
An already-busy Easey’s means booking a table is encouraged, and with big plans ahead for this unique space, the crowds will only get bigger.
Now you have an ‘easey’ choice for your next dinner outing. Pun intended. Guaranteed, it will be the most delicious train journey of your life.
Check out Easey’s here.
Written by Caitlyn Leggett