The boards that have blacked out 133b Lygon Street for years have finally come down, revealing the latest project from Neighbourhood Wine bosses Simon Denman and chef Almay Jordaan. It's called Old Palm Liquor and if you're familiar with the couple's other project you'll recognise certain touches immediately.
The same curved wooden ceiling fans spin slowly over a rounded blackwood bar, stacked with similar high-backed, leather-bound bar stools.
In the back dining room, painted light green and cream, and decorated with Boston ferns, there's an open fireplace with two well-placed armchairs. Like Neighbourhood Wine, the whole place has an aesthetic which speaks of a bygone era.
They're pouring a solid list of minimal intervention wines, complete with their trademark key that points out those that are biodynamic or have had skin contact. There's a stronger focus on beer at Old Palm Liquor – 12 taps (as opposed to Neighbourhood Wine's two) featuring local brewers like South Australia's Mismatch.
"Neighbourhood Wine has a bit more of a restaurant feel, but with Old Palm we're trying to tick that local, casual pub kind of vibe," says Denman.
Jordaan's menu is built around the wood-fired grill, which takes central place in the open kitchen. Fire-fuelled snacks include garlic flatbread, bite-sized steak tartare served on a cracker made from buckwheat and beer and the cult-worthy fried shallot with cashew sour cream and pickled jalapeno.
Larger plates focus on a central protein, such as a cider-brined pork chop with squashed peas or Cape Grim scotch fillet with fermented mustard and watercress. Options for sides include fried potatoes and gravy and a charred cabbage slaw.
Old Palm Liquor is open Tues to Sun, 4pm-12pm at 133b Lygon Street, Brunswick East, oldpalmliquor.com.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to chef Jordaan as Jordan Almaay.