This millennial-skewed wine bar is giving bright, young things a new place to hang, though coolness comes with a price tag
“AT LEAST I’m not the oldest in here,” I thought to myself looking around Neptune, Prahran’s latest wine and dine hotspot that’s packing in the pretty people. I was, however, the oldest who hadn’t been brought here for meal by my 20-something kids.
Welcome to Neptune, a wine bar by millennials, for millennials. And while it is welcoming to all, it is firmly pitched at the newly minted wine drinker who’s graduated from sauv blanc and has a bonus to burn.
It’s a smart play by a quartet of clever hospo heads – brothers Dave and Michael Parker (San Telmo, Pastuso) joining with Nick Coulter and Simon Blacher (Hanoi Hannah, Saigon Sally, Tokyo Tina). A more polished offering than the fun and funky Asian styles of the alliterative sisters, Neptune ups the ante with a menu of tinned fish and cured meats plus little things to share.
Perched up the back by the roaring open fire (the more formal booths and tables are only available to book for four or more), it is a perfect winter spot.
A small fritto misto of plump mussels and anchovies swaddled in sage are teasing morsels of fried crunch. Slivers of eggplant with burrata and buckwheat is a happy plate of veg, while absinthe-cured bonito is pretty, but overpowered by a chilli oil dressing.
Likewise, while there’s everything to like about seeing the words “nduja” and “jaffle” hanging out together, the fiery Calabrian sausage is perhaps too punchy for these refined wine styles.
It’s not, after all, smashed avocado that’s holding back this room from cashing in their first home owners’ grant, but instead the worldly, walletbusting wines on the wall that are available to drink in or grab to go. It’s quality, sure, and it comes with a price.
But where better to reach for the stars than with the god of the sea.