‘I’ll meet you in Abbotsford. Under the bridge. Near the train station.’
It doesn’t sound like the start of a good night out. Yet despite its odd location, Dr Morse’s blend of comfort and cool make it a stayer.
Crouching under the Victoria Park train station bridge, Dr Morse is easily accessed via a tiled entry, leading to an ample front bar and dining area. (Dr Morse is an all-day bar and eatery and it’s entirely step-free.)
The chairs in the front dining area are padded and tables are a good height for wheelchair users.
The beautiful backdrop is the remains of a vintage advertisement, spreading the full width of the wall, which reads ‘Indian Root Pills’. It’s the reason for the name Dr Morse — a nineteenth-century charlatan who traded off a story about an American Indian who saved his life with a concoction of roots.
Today, Abbotsford’s Dr Morse is ‘where troubles of the liver and stomach can be relieved, without the promise of reduced seasickness’ (according to its website).
Inside is a primo spot to eat and chat, but we are headed for the courtyard. Hard, ancient concrete floors are easy to roll across as we head past the open fire opposite the kitchen. Two large leather armchairs sit among a small family of ottomans and a wooden sleeper-bench.
Outside, it’s not the sunniest of days, but people are out enjoying it – there’s a baby shower, couples flirting and some semi-serious work-talk over pints. It’s an awesome spot that includes a concrete outdoor bar, plant life and a brick barbecue. String lighting is fixed above us, as are heaters and a retractable roof, should the weather turn. Sunday afternoons and lazy weekdays will be excellent here.
Opposite the courtyard bar is the accessible toilet – easy to get to and generously sized. The whole courtyard is a green bolthole that feels far away from dusty – and sometimes dodgy – Johnson Street.
Apparently, the good Doctor is ethically minded – the food is thoughtfully sourced, and waste carefully disposed.
The place is open from 7am to 11pm, with a breakfast menu from 7am to 2pm, all-day mains from 11am til late, and bar snacks from 5pm. If you’re still not sold, there’s a mirror ball in the courtyard. Worth it for that alone.
Step-free / Accessible toilet (BC, GR)
Good: The amazing courtyard
Not so: Train station loiterers
274 Johnston St, Abbotsford VIC 3067