Clayton Hiskins, long-standing restaurant manager and sommelier at two-hat Ten Minutes By Tractor, is slipping into something a little more casual. He starts this week at Dromana's Two Buoys tapas and wine bar with a brief to enliven its wine offering. Two Buoys owner Josh Ball says his new recruit's first task is to lift the wait staff's wine knowledge and to add to the wine list. ''He's got carte blanche to do what he wants with that. It's going to be his baby.''
Hiskins is expected to bring polish to the all-day, late-night haunt, but Two Buoys' relaxed vibe won't turn starchy, Ball says. ''We're very aware that we're a beachside place, where a lot of people are eating flatbreads and calamari. We want to keep it casual and make the wine side of it fun.'' A planned renovation later this year will expand indoor seating by about 40.
In nearby Mornington, two more wine bars have opened. The Winey Cow, at 39a Main Street, is pouring regional and international wines with a focus on biodynamic and natural makers. The airy, timber-accented all-day venue is a first venture for hospitality professionals Jillian and Campbell Henderson: their Think Tank Coffee is the brainchild of champion Australian barista Craig Simon, who trained both the Winey Cow baristas. They are serving breakfasts, cheese platters and more substantial meals.
Further along the same street, at No. 174, cosy Fika Weinstuble has quietly opened, with schnapps, beer and a handful of wines to go with a Scandinavia meets Eastern Europe menu - think Swedish open sandwiches or goulash with spaetzle.