RED LIGHT SPECIAL
With a dark and debaucherous history, this basement bar is the perfect place for a secret late-night tryst – or, at least, some naughty Negronis
STING may have told Roxanne she didn’t have to put hers on, but new CBD wine bar Juliet comes bathed in the rosy-cheeked glow of the red light. And when it’s on, all are welcomed into the arms of her subterranean charms.
A sibling to Punch Lane next door – which has just blown the candles on its 23rd year and remains as popular a wine bar/ bistro as Melbourne offers – Juliet is an understated, impeccably stylish spot for late-night Negronis and knock-off wines.
It’s a secret hideaway, where vintage French drinks trolleys are complemented by clean-lined Danish furniture, the space lit by hand-blown feature glass fittings and warmed in winter by a roaring fire. There’s ’70s funk on the stereo, capocollo and salamis hanging in the fridge, and wines come from a tight list that champions female winemakers.
In a nice touch, each night four whites and reds are opened to pour by the glass that the quick off the mark can request. It’s the perfect chance to sip on a glass of Sarah Crowe’s heady Yarra Yering pinot noir syrah, or Sandra de Pury’s voluptuous Yeringberg viognier.
There’s a clever, tight menu of mainly cheese and charcuterie. An excellent version of vitello tonnato adds black garlic richness to the blushing pink veal seasoned with subtly tuna-spiked mayo.
Our antipasto features a vegetable shashlik with grilled cheese sitting next to pickled okra and honey-drizzled camembert. Slivers of vegetables fried until crisp and hand-rolled crostini finish a plate of simple, tasty food.
And the name? In the 19th century, this pocket was where men and women of the night plied their trade – the gentlemen around the corner on Romeo Lane (now Crossley St), the ladies on Juliet Terrace (Liverpool St). Yes, even in vice, Melbourne plays poetically nice.
FROM TOP Vitello tonnato, the intimate interior, and a selection of dishes.