Food and Drink


Texture, Taste and Timber At The Carlton Wine Room

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After four years of planning and seven months of construction, The Carlton Wine Room opened its doors last Wednesday, on the corner of Drummond and Faraday streets. Occupying the space that used to be The Detective Agency, then the flamboyant, yet short lived, Il Duce and most recently Victor’s Lounge Bar, manager Jay Bessell (ex Il Solito Posto) is hoping to create something more lasting.

Large windows, impressively high ceilings and oodles of wine are what strikes you upon entering, but that’s just the beginning. Working with designer Marlowe Cobb from Aesthetica, Bessell and his team have used traditional artisan techniques to transform this deceptively large space into something warm, even cosy. The tables, made from recycled floor boards, have been cured with Dutch oil and took months to construct. Metalworker Chris Bold is responsible for the staircase and creating fittings to work with the non-linear space. “It’s all about texture” explains Bessell as he runs his hand down a wall that has been scored by chef Matthew Silovic’s father. “Texture in the building, the food and of course the wine.”

The wine list opens with the disclaimer: “This is not an encyclopedia. These wines are made with passion by real people, and, most importantly, wines that I would drink in vast quantities.” True to his word, Bessell has put together a robust list of wines, mainly Italian varietals, offered by the half-glass, glass, half-bottle and so on. It’s a good way to try some drops you might not normally be inclined to, sort of like tipsy tapas. Bessell believes “wine should be digested, not drunk. I want to enjoy wine with every meal, unless that meal is breakfast.” That means matching your booze with the the food from chef Matthew Silovic (Verge).

With a range of European style dishes designed to share, the modestly worded menu belies the complexity of Silovic’s method. For example, the cheese plate comes with “pear and lavosh”. What this doesn’t tell you is that the lavosh is freshly made and the pear has been soaked in a water solution called fossil powder for three hours then slow roasted over four hours, essentially steaming the pear in its own juices. The result, Bessell enthuses, “is pear, but not as we know it!”

Spanning four levels – the basement, being used as a private dining room, a mezzanine level set to open later this month and a third level that will be another private dining space with its own kitchen, The Carlton Wine Room has grand ambitions, but at the end of the day it’s about trying something new. Bessell wants “people come and try three new things: maybe it’s a new wine, a taste of something they’ve never had before, or a new texture. Without texture, what do you have?”

The Carlton Wine Room is a little fancy, but friendly too. Drop by and try a new drop. Just make sure you ask Jay Bessell for the grand tour.

The Carlton Wine Room
172 – 174 Faraday Street
Carlton 3053
9347 2626
Tues – Fri 5pm – 11pm
Sat – Sun 12pm – 11pm


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