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

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Eat Out - JULIET: RE­VIEWED BY DAN STOCK 41 Lt Bourke St, city, juli­et­mel­

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.

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