Prince Wine Store has opened a wine bar and, while the focus is very much on all things vinous – there are 3500 bottles to choose from next door (those costing $80 or more are charged at the shelf price, those less than $80 incur $15 corkage) – this place is not a one-trick pony. The food from Brigitte Hafner (ex-Gertrude Street Enoteca) is fantastic and the menu reads like a gourmet tour of Europe, moving from sea to land with bistro classics and fresh pasta dishes.
Two choices of oyster were up first from the large marble ‘crustacean bar’ – Sydney Rock oysters by Moonlight Flat in Bateman Bay, NSW and Pacific oysters by Pristine Oyster Farm in Coffin Bay, SA. Served simply with a shallot vinaigrette and a squeeze of lemon it was all that was needed. Sparklingly sea-fresh and creamy in equal measure.
Shared charcuterie platters comprised: chianina toscano, Berkshire ossocollo and felino, saucisson de Morteaux, jamon iberico from acorn-fed pigs, and culatello di Parma prosciutto.
Served with olives, grilled bread and goat’s curd – it was hard to choose between this and the slightly salty, very creamy foil-wrapped pats of butter – this is the kind of grazing I love.
Potted smoked eel with pickled beetroot was sweet and earthy at the same time.
Perfectly oozing ham and cheese croquettes – comfort food for the diners who had braved a wet and windy Melbourne night to be here.
As an entree, spaghetti with fresh tuna, eggplant, capers, tomato and olives was deliciously Mediterranean and a perfect match for chilled glass of arneis from Piedmont.
Main – the star dish of the night and a possible contender for our dish of the year – confit duck, red cabbage, pomme boulangere. I could eat those perfectly cooked (sadly calorie-laden) potatoes on their own. The duck was perfectly cooked and the cabbage amazingly flavourful.
Gippsland scotch fillet with herb butter, pommes frites and salad tasted like we had just stepped into a bistro in Paris.
For dessert, a palate-cleansing and slightly tart yoghurt pannacotta with grapes and a hazelnut and honey syrup, as well as a classically French walnut tart with a perfectly light shortcrust pastry base.
Like the acorns (bellota in Spanish) that the famed pigs snuffle up in their hundreds, this South Melbourne newcomer sees diners gorge on Brigitte Hafner’s down-to-earth food.
181 Bank Street, South Melbourne 3205
Tel: (03) 9078 8381