Scorcher reviews: Carlton Wine Room
Carlton Wine Room
Click PLAY below to hear Scorcher’s review on 3AW Breakfast
On the subject of wine, Ross Stevenson likes to use a quote he attributes to French film director Louis Malle: “Life’s too short to drink white wine.”
That’s a loose interpretation of what Malle actually said. In a 2012 edition of US Vogue magazine, Malle, in fact, went a bit further: “Never drink white wine. It will kill you.”
Perhaps for reasons of personal longevity, Ross doesn’t have a single bottle of white wine anywhere in his house.
And all this vino bianco bashing was swirling around my head as I sat down at a spacious banquette in one corner of the elegant dining room at wine bar-cum-bistro Carlton Wine Room.
Haters are gonna hate.
But I reckon the malvazija from Slovenia that was chosen for us by our cheery sommelier to accompany our fine kingfish crudo entrée would have won Ross and Louis over, I’m sure of it.
Housed in a handsome 19th-century building on Faraday St, Carlton Wine Room has existed in many guises over the years.
Under the steerage of new manager Andrew Joy and well-pedigreed head chef John Paul Twomey the iconic restaurant has undergone another reboot.
CWR’s vino MO treads a come-at-able path, where wine plays the role of benevolent, approachable hero.
While good plonk is the focal point – the menu has been massaged to compliment the wine list, rather than the other way around – any notion of wine snobbery has been kicked to the curb.
The vibe is smart and relaxed: a classy, casual citadel of booze that stands out in a sea of ordinary eateries on nearby Lygon St.
The concise menu is anchored by Australian tastes but has a sideways glance towards Europe.
That kingfish crudo I referenced earlier is fast becoming a crowd favourite. Fat slices of kingfish sit haphazardly on a lilo of crème fraiche, topped with pickled wombok cabbage and grated horseradish.
A plate a gnarled spiced, fried cauliflower – a vegetable now more ubiquitous than Ed Sheeran – with sesame paste and red wine vinegar sauce impressed.
So too did the taut broccoli filled out with cherubic chunks of smoked pork belly, shaved egg yolk and a parmesan-laden garlic mayonnaise Carbonara-esque sauce; these are pre-loaded veggies dressed up for a night out on the town.
A more substantial daily pasta dish of rigatoni tossed with a seven-hour, slow-cooked ragu and smoked salted ricotta was stomach-pattingly pleasing.
The half roast chicken is hard to go past; with a tanned, crispy skin that protects the juicy, plump meat, the bird sits on a nest of light aioli, Jerusalem artichokes and shredded sorrel.
The extensive wine list doesn’t play favourites with any one country.
I’m sure the French options would appeal to Malle’s Gallic palate.
You never know, had he come to Carlton Wine Room perhaps he could have even been tempted by a glass of Australian pinot gris.
Like the warren-like space and hidden upstairs private dining rooms, Carlton Wine Room is full of surprises.