Five of a kind: BYO restaurants
Fine dining with a BYO tag ... Matteo's, Fitzroy North. Photo: Supplied
YOU won't be stuck for choice at this upmarket Asian restaurant. It has a substantial drinks list that includes house-blended teas, and a well-priced wine list offering 16 wines by the glass and bottles covering the everyday (between $40 and $60) to the once-in-a-lifetime (a 1990 Grange at $1500). Diners can BYO, too. ''People like it and we like to give people a choice,'' owner Eric Wong says. There's choice on the food menu, too, with daily yum cha (including namesake potsticker dumplings) and traditional dishes (such as chicken feet and Peking duck) alongside more Western fare (shoestring fries and curried scallops with pasta).
58 Hawthorn Road, Caulfield North, 9500 8819. Licensed and BYO, corkage $8 a bottle. Open Wed-Sun, noon-3pm, Tues-Sun, 5.30-10.30pm. thepotsticker.com.au
POTATOES and vodka go together like peaches and cream or, better, beer and pickles. So, of course Polish restaurant Kluska built its drinks list from the vodka up. In a former cottage, Kluska has been licensed for just eight months and offers a good range of Polish vodkas and beers to match the traditional menu of pierogi (dumplings), pyzy (potato dumplings), placki (potato pancakes) and nalesniki (crepes). The small wine selection is a work in progress, so BYO sturdy riesling, chardonnay or gewurztraminer, or even a bold red. But be prepared to try Polish beer and vodka, too, and to repeat the saying ''na zdrowie'' (cheers to your health).
161 Foster Street, Dandenong, 9793 2154. Licensed and BYO, corkage $3 a bottle. kluskarestaurant.com.au
DOES anyone drink wine with Indian food? They do, and most people BYO to Hyderabad Inn, which offers a limited list of six whites and six reds. Indian food is big on character, aromatic with spices such as cardamom, fenugreek, cloves and garam masala (a spice blend). It's usual to drink a crisp beer (Kingfisher and Haywards Indian imports are available) or a yoghurt-based lassi at the end of a meal; both cleanse the palate and stay out of flavours' way. Bring a strong, crisp acidic wine to match Hyderabad's huge menu, which represents the diverse cuisines of India's north, south, east and west. Perhaps a pinot gris, riesling or gewurztraminer.
551 Barkly Street, West Footscray, 9689 0998. Licensed and BYO, corkage $3.50 a bottle. Open Tues-Sun, noon-3.30pm, daily, 5-10.30pm. hyderabadinn.com
FINE-dining Matteo's (which scored two hats in 2013's The Age Good Food Guide) is noted for its lavish old-world dining room, silver service, impressive wine list and modern cuisine - characteristics not often found with the BYO tag. ''We encourage it,'' owner Matteo Pignatelli says. ''A lot of our customers are wine people and they all have cellars; they bring their burgundy and bordeaux wines.'' Matteo's has offered BYO since it opened in 1994. ''I copped a bit of flak from other restaurateurs early on who saw BYO as having an unfair advantage. But it's a great way to save money; I love BYO.''
533 Brunswick Street, North Fitzroy, 9481 1177. Licensed and BYO, corkage $20 a bottle. Open Sun-Thurs, 6-9.30pm, Fri-Sat, 6-10pm, Sun-Fri, noon-2.30pm. matteos.com.au
CHARNTRA Thai is the ultimate in BYO restaurants, with no corkage on wine or beer and a bottle shop a few metres up the road. Most patrons arrive toting a BYO bag, despite the dozen well-chosen and well-priced wines available (six by the glass) and bargain beers (imports and locals all $5). It's that kind of place: easygoing and casual. The food is fragrant and first class - prepared from scratch by chef Charntra Klaywong (formerly Colonel Tan's). Tuesday and Wednesday are mussel nights, meaning big bowls redolent with basil, chilli and galangal. And, to prove how accommodating this place is, it not only offers BYO but takeaway, too.
740 Riversdale Road, Camberwell, 9888 4138. Licensed and BYO, no corkage. Open daily, 5.30-10pm. charntrarestaurant.com.au
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