It's taken three months longer than it was supposed to and cost three times the initial budget but Auterra, the new wine bar from Amaru's Clinton McIver is finally open. The bar is a short hop across High Street from the two-hatted flagship but there's one thing McIver wants to be clear about from the outset. "First and foremost, this is not another Amaru," he says.
A 13-page wine list has been curated by venue manager and head sommelier Jenna Philpott. The organising principle is wines that represent their regions especially well: they're "au terra" or "of the earth". There are a dozen by the glass and plenty of bottles in the $60s but if you want to explore the extraordinary range of grower Champagne you'll be dipping further into your pocket. "The list will be ever-evolving," says McIver. "The idea is that you could pop in every week and let us guide you into trying something different."
What about food? "It's a really accessible menu of 14 snacks designed to be eaten with your hands," he says. Some are reminiscent of Amaru, like hot-smoked duck with a mousse of its liver, puffed buckwheat and quince. Others are much more casual, such as a prawn sandwich with kimchi and mustard leaves, and the boudin blanc hot dog with Japanese pickles on sesame milk bun. "I know people will tell me I should have a steak or something more substantial but if people want dinner, the menu top to bottom is like a degustation made of snacks," says McIver.
Initially the venue will seat 30 inside, with 20 spots available to reserve and the rest for walk-ins. An upstairs private dining room for 12 and a rear courtyard for 28 will launch over the coming months. "I'm excited to finally open," says McIver. "It's been a complex project that's evolved as we've gone along but I'm happy with where it's at. It's Armadale and it's accessible and I'm looking forward to welcoming everyone in."
1160 High Street Armadale, 03 8529 2660, auterrawinebar.com.au