Pearl Chablis and Oyster Bar pairs shellfish and chardonnay in Melbourne's CBD

The hyper-focused bar has just 30 seats and a cellar stocked with rarities from Burgundy.
The hyper-focused bar has just 30 seats and a cellar stocked with rarities from Burgundy. Photo: Jana Langhorst

Concerns of inflation, elections and pandemics might be temporarily washed away by a wave of chardonnay at Pearl Chablis and Oyster Bar. The pocket-sized bar in the CBD has an equally tight focus, but it's geared towards living large – for a couple of hours at least.

As the name suggests, chablis is a focus of the 500-plus bottles on the wine list, with dozens of examples from single domaines featured across premier cru, grand cru and lesser appellations, at prices from $70 to $3,000.

Owner Jeremy Schinck, a Burgundy boffin, has been collecting wine for 10 years and thinks chablis is the most approachable style of chardonnay in the world. When it came to opening a bar devoted to the grape, he says, "I just had to pair it with oysters. There's no other choice."

The bar's namesake items come from a 500-strong Burgundy collection and a daily line-up of oysters from various producers.
The bar's namesake items come from a 500-strong Burgundy collection and a daily line-up of oysters from various producers.  Photo: Jana Langhorst

He's knocked a hole through a wall of his CBD venue, Pinchy's Lobster and Champagne Bar, to create Pearl, a 30-seat space of stone, timber and lightboxes. Wine is displayed on walls, oysters are in a glass cabinet atop the bar, and all snacks are prepared in front of you.

"I want people to see everything they can have. I want people to feel and breathe the offering," he says.

Aside from that day's oysters, which might be Sydney rocks, angasi or other varieties, there are snacks such as sea bream crudo with cured pearl meat, beef tartare with oyster cream, and buttered lobster tail served with potato crisps and 200 grams of two kinds of caviar (that particular item clocks in at $1450).

The bar is located beside its seafood-focused sibling, Pinchy's.
The bar is located beside its seafood-focused sibling, Pinchy's. Photo: Jana Langhorst

But a "New World versus Old World" wine list keeps the budget in check, with 20 wines by the glass that aren't chardonnay. Think riesling (Alsace versus Tasmanian), sancerre and more, selected by sommelier Luke Campbell (Vinified).

The cellars will soon be open to retail customers via a membership program, complete with a gold key, that may also include intimate events, such as masterclasses, in the space.

Melbourne might be going through an oyster obsession. A similar bar, Pearl Diver, opened in the CBD last year, offering oysters from various regions and Tiki-inspired cocktails.

Open Wed-Sun 5pm-1am

Level 1, shop 108, 200 Bourke Street, Melbourne, pearloyster.co