444 Hampton St Hampton, VIC 3188
|Opening hours||Daily noon-11pm|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9598 8212|
Pizza in Hampton? Easy. Takeaway Indian? Yep. Coffee? Can do. But smart little wine bar? Until Hampton Wine Co swept in to slake the suburb's thirst, it was slim pickings for interesting tipples served with expertise and enthusiasm.
Bayside's rescue squad comprises three ex-Jacques Reymond soldiers chef Jarrod Amos, sommelier Glenn Mill and manager Pierre Geoffroy, young guys with plenty of experience plus childhood history in the area. They've also got enough nous to keep their first business simple so the focus can be on making each element good.
Bottles are racked along the walls of the casual front room where there's one communal table ringed by stools.
Wines are chosen because they taste good not because they slot into a particular philosophy, though they're certainly ahead if there's a story behind them and if you can't get them at the liquor barns.
Browse the collection, let yourself be talked into something different, and take any bottle home for a $10 markdown.
Sorry to talk about lettuce while we're at a bar but if you drink your wine on-site, you'll be able to eat the grilled cos, just one of the composed and clever snacks emerging from the tiny kitchen. Black-fringed and just-wilted, the lettuce is dressed with velvety almond puree and shaved pecorino.
Profiteroles stuffed with smoked salmon and showered with tomato dust are fun one-bite snacks. Cured slivers of trout with lemon puree and kohlrabi slaw make for light and spirited ballast.
If you need more than nibbles, the "feed me" parade bulks out the roster with fork-tender spiced lamb shoulder and late-summer tomatoes.
There's more seating in a small rear parlour and the upstairs dining room is a great venue for special dinners but the pavement appeals in good weather.
The fresh air is nice but be warned that you can't pretend you're in Bordeaux or old Barolo out here. It's not because of the quality of the wine, the service or indeed the food. It's just that the supermarket across the road, the daggy lingerie shop and the fluorescent lights of the post office don't quite add up to a Euro fantasy.
Ah well, some things you can't change, but this happy new hangout is certainly seizing upon the revolution it can affect as it makes Hampton even more habitable.
Rating: Three and a half stars (out of five)