Food and Drink


Banter Wine Bar

Posted by


I reckon Queensbury Street in North Melbourne is one to watch in 2012. Over the past year the unassuming strip has seen the opening of heavy hitters like Beatrix and Twenty and Six Espresso, while last week there was a bookshop and now there’s Banter Wine Bar.

The idea behind Banter is deviously simple – interesting wines (most by the glass and under $10) and good pizza. If the flux of locals through the door by 6pm on a Wednesday night is any indication, they like the idea too.

The man behind that idea is Clinton Fox, an affable chap who honed his vino knowledge at places like Mr.Wolf and The Atlantic. He even traveled to Europe Italy recently on a mission to hunt out lesser know grapes and bring us back their secrets.

The result is a contained yet adventurous wine list with a gaggle of grapes I’d have more trouble pronouncing than drinking. Clinton suggests pinot gris fans might like the friulano, which he describes as tasting of “sun-ripened fruit”, while cab sav diehards (like yours truly) might enjoy by “the deep, brooding flavours” of the blaufrankisch grape from Austria.

In the kitchen Josh Wetere-Sweet (ex sous chef Mr. Wolf, St. Ali and Chin Chin) has put together a tidy pizza menu book-ended with some classic Italian entrees and mains like pork meatballs and braised lamb. Pizzas range from the classic margherita to the idyllic sounding caramelised leeks, gorgonzola dolce and pancetta. All pizza bases can be prepared gluten free .

I started with the zucchini entree ($6.5). Half a zucchini is hollowed out and stuffed to the gills with parmesan, baked then served on a blob of garlic aioli. The mush of the vegetable and the warm crunch of cheese make happy sparring partners, while the aioli packs a wallop. Make sure you’ve got a pack of PK if going out afterwards.

Next out is the pizza – calabrese salami, kalamata olives, anchovies, chilli, tomato, sugo ($19.5). Coming put thinner than a Macbook Air, the base is reassuring firm, which means you can pick it up and eat it with your fingers (as pizza was meant to be eaten). Yes it’s a little over-cooked, but the hot green chillis and sweet sugo base keep things interesting, while the olives from Mount Zero are little boulders of happiness. Washed down with my generous glass of blaufrankisch, all was well in the world.

As I prepare to leave Banter the place kept filling up, and as I emerged into the crisp autumn evening on Queensbury Street I kept thinking ‘what a bloody good idea’.

562 Queensbury Street, North Melbourne
9041 4511
Mon closed
Tues – Sun 12 noon till late

Photo & Video

The 10th Whitelion Bail Out Charity Fundraiser

Bail Out's plans to help out Melbourne's disadvantaged youth.

The Fox Darkroom

Snap away with The Fox Darkroom, a mecca for photography aficionados to learn all about the traditional methods of black and white photography.

Somewhere Else video sings of summer

It almost sounds like the premise of a reality TV show: pile a bunch of artists in a bus for seven days, send them across Mexico and see what happens.

What's On

Melbourne Dog Lovers Show 2017

The 2017 Melbourne Dog Lovers Show is one paws-itively brilliant celebration of man’s best friend.

Valentine’s Day at Luna Park

Treat the special someone in your life to a night of smiles and screams at Luna Park's Luna Love this Valentine's Day.

Movenpick Are Giving Away Free Ice Cream!

Movenpick are giving away over 5,000 scoops of ice-cream across their 23 boutiques this Monday!