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Ela Carte reviews Marion Wine Bar in Fitzroy

MML

Marion Wine Bar ? 53 Gertrude St Fitzroy ? www.marionwine.com.au  

It’s all about the wine bar at the moment. They are popping up everywhere, and it’s the big guns who are getting involved.

Over in Johnston Street it’s Attica’s former sommelier and his mates who are having fun with Bar Liberty, in the heart of the city the team from Town Mouse are churning out brilliant snacks and fine wines at Embla. And next door to the institution that is Cutler and Co, Andrew McConnell has opened his own.

Marion Wine Bar surprised me from the start. I expect wine bars to by pokey, dark, and assume I’ll be perched on an uncomfortable high stool in the corner somewhere. This was big and bright, I was amazing by the space, and while I was on a stool, it was by a bright window, and it was suitably comfortable.

It’s got a good vibe. I think there’s nothing better than sitting on a weekend afternoon, gossiping, sipping wine and snacking on all manner of foodstuffs ? and that is what we did.

Who doesn

Who doesn’t love fresh bread and cheese?

We ordered lots of little plates, they came out at a perfect pace, service was attentive but not overbearing.

A freebie arrived in the form of warm, pan-fried flatbread with super smooth fromage blanc (just think soft, spreadable, fresh cows milk cheese). Who doesn’t love fresh bread and cheese?

Ordered the bite sized crab & rye – thin sliced, fried rye bread, topped with a mix of Queensland spanner crab, house-made cr?me fraiche, chives, celery seed and lemon. Flavoursome, and well priced at $8 for two.

The crab rye was flavoursome, and well priced.

The crab rye was flavoursome, and well priced.

Was a little underwhelmed at the duckfish, cured in white soy and mirin dressing, sprinkled with kombu powder; a lovely texture but maybe I’m used to those citrusy ceviches that can blow your tastebuds away.

An unusual choice for me, but loved the Ox tongue & mortadella. Warm slices of mortadella from Andrew McConnell’s own ‘Meatsmith’ butchers; and the ox tongue has been sous vide at 84 degrees for eight hours, peeled, chilled, sliced and grilled. They’re served with pureed mustard fruits and dusted with finely grated horseradish.

Dish of the day easily went to the grilled calamari ? I adored it. It’s scored and grilled on a binchotan charcoal grill ? cooked beautifully. They’re accompanied with spring onions, pickled green tomatoes, green olives, green harrisa dressing, mint, and a stunning burnt butter yoghurt. This dish is as pretty as it is delicious. Don’t be afraid to eat the spring onion roots and all, they’ve been deep-fried and are gloriously edible.

The flounder is roasted in olive oil and served with burnt butter sauce.

The flounder is roasted in olive oil and served with burnt butter sauce.

We finished with a simple whole flounder pan roasted in olive oil and finished with butter, served with burnt butter sauce, salted capers, lemon, & chiffonade parsley. I’m usually nervous about whole fish, but the flounder with its hard stocky bones is a breeze to fillet.

Of course, the wine list is suitably comprehensive. And happily, you can book ? although they do leave a chunk of seats for walk-ins each day too ? we relied on that and had no problems on this Saturday afternoon.

On their website, the team from Marion boast that the laneways around the wine bar used to be filled with ‘uncouth drinking holes and brothels’, home to underworld shootings and scandalous behaviour. Fair to say it’s decidedly more gentrified these days, but don’t let that stop you eating and drinking to debaucherous excess ? you only live once.

The ox tongue was sous vide at 84 degrees for eight hours.

The ox tongue was sous vide at 84 degrees for eight hours.

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