64 Commercial Rd Prahran, VIC 3181
|Opening hours||Mon-Tue noon-9pm; Wed-Sun noon-11pm|
|Phone||03 9529 4988|
Welcome to the third iteration of a razor-sharp concept by Lyndon Kubis, following his neighbourhood hits Milton Wine Shop and Toorak Cellars. The formula? Find a space with good bones in a nondescript row of shops in a well-heeled area. Sensitively renovate. Serve great wine at steep-ish mark-ups. Watch the crowds roll in.
On a recent Tuesday night, the new venture with partners Renton Carlyle and Mark Hopkinson (Romulus and Remus) is already humming with long-limbed thirtysomethings sipping Euro wines in a cosy tungsten light. "This is the fourth time I've been here, and it only opened last fortnight," brags a guy in an expensive suit at the next table. It's the kind of place you want to show off.
The room still smells like a new car, a high shared table of golden timber running down the centre like a spine. To the right, a library ladder slides along a grid of shelves stacked with wines ranging from bubbles and whites to richer reds, with boutique beers in a low glass fridge below. Order something lush by the glass, or pull down an on-trend bottle to take away or drink immediately. It's an even split of local and international wines, with a focus on small, organic, "dirt-under-the-fingernails" producers.
A sleek selection of snacks includes thick, herbed slices of fridge-chilled salmon gravlax with creme fraiche and beetroot chutney slathered on chunks of white baguette, or your pick of cheese, charcuterie, a terrine, almonds, olives and pate: basically nothing that involves serious cooking.
Cleverly, it's an all-day, all-week affair. Service is smooth, friendly and intuitive, there's a semi-private room dubbed The Cabin out the back and a compact courtyard planted with new pines down the side. There's even a vague Tintin theme, with copies of the book scattered about, and the Belgian and his dog sketched on the wine list.
The only problem is the place might be overrun by bragging suits on any given Tuesday, and it's small enough that one boisterous group can shatter the idyll like a bowling ball in a pond. But when the formula is this good, we're willing to share.
Drink this Daniel Bouland Corcelette Beaujolais, $17
Eat this Salmon gravlax, $16
Know this Pre-mix negronis and martinis are coming soon.
Say this "Shall we get a bottle to go?"