Guidebook Carlton Wine Room: A local neighborhood wine room with uncomplicated great food

Best eating in town

Carlton Wine Room: A local neighborhood wine room with uncomplicated great food

Here’s a menu filled with “big flavours and clever combinations,” notes Dan Stock at the Herald Sun. “Plump mussels that taste of the sweet sea served with crunchy baby cucumbers, chickpeas, dill, and crème fraîche gets a big tick, as does a sublime plate of chunky kingfish crudo with pickled daikon batons and fresh horseradish,” not to mention “juicy late-season tomatoes dressed with anchovies is nothing short of brilliant, while charred broccoli with fat, crisp pancetta and grated yolk is now the only way I want to eat my greens.” “Each dish is an expression texture and flavour that is both surprising and satisfying; your attention is drawn to the ingredients, not to the technique used to make them,” writes Smudge Eats, citing the “inventive beef tartare with Jerusalem artichoke, cured egg and truffle emulsion.”

The food is “uncomplicated and not overworked, but highly delicious,” writes Jess Ho at Time Out. A “single piece of Conservas Emilia garfish arrives on fresh, squishy ciabatta, next to a wedge of tart, green tomato under a rain of aioli,” while duck and pork croquettes are “lifted with vinegared prunes, and they come in hefty fried bricks.” The potato focaccia comes served in four fingers “with a pool of the soft, creamy and super lactic cheese stracciatella, plus shaved zucchini and a dose of bright chive oil.” It’s evident, she says, that “the food has been designed around the wine and not the other way around.” And the half-serve option on most dishes “sends such a positive message,” says John Lethlean at The Australian: “it’s all about you, dear customer.” It works with a “piquant, slightly sweet/sour dish of poached mussels, cucumber, anise aioli and dill” and a half-serve of the pasta special -- “a fine, firm and glossy spaghetti in buttery parmesan cream, like gentle cacio e pepe.”

Being a wine room, the imbibing opportunities are extensive. The wine list of only 100 options “isn’t particularly large,” says Jess Ho at Time Out, “but this is one of the most approachable, decipherable and balanced wine lists we have come across,” with something for everyone: “the traditionalist, the new-wave drinker, the newbie drinker, the flashy drinker.” It’s a place where “good plonk is the focal point,” says Scorcher Davidson at Radio 3AW, which means “any notion of wine snobbery has been kicked to the curb.” The “fizz menu” has a lot from France, while Germany, Austria and Slovenia pop up frequently in the whites section, and Italy gets “a full page of reds,” explains Broadsheet. “The team also opens a different ‘staff bottle’ each day,” and if it's off the menu “just ask if you'd like to try it.”

Best eating in town
  • Guidebook