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Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Delicious On Sunday - DAN STOCK REVIEWS CON­LAN’S WINE STORE

THERE are many good rea­sons to visit Con­lan’s Wine Store when in folksy-funky Port Fairy. The smart list of Vic­to­rian drops by the glass is one. The room full of clev­erly cho­sen, for­ward-look­ing, nicely priced bot­tles to grab and go for the hol­i­day home – or to drink in over a few bites or full-blown three-courser – is an­other. A court­yard for sunny sips when the weather’s fine and a menu filled with hearty warm­ers when it’s not are a couple more.

But the best reason has to be cans of Peroni Red for just five bucks. That three-hour drive from Mel­bourne al­most pays for it­self.

Con­lan’s is the mid-tier of­fer­ing of chef-pa­tron Matt Dempsey’s trio of venues in this small town voted ‘the world’s most live­able’ a few years back. Join­ing the mod-Asian Hawker Kam­pong up the road and fine-diner Gla­di­oli around the corner, it’s a simple space that lets good stuff in glass and on plate do the heavy lifting.

A whole prawn wrapped in nori, fried crisp in tem­pura and served on wasabi-spiked mayo is a clever and tasty open­ing snack, while cheesy jamón cro­quettes are crisp and crunchy and ter­rific along­side a zippy glass of Grampians ries­ling.

Roasted cau­li­flower flo­rets tossed with but­tery leeks and teamed with best-in-class Shaw River mozzarella is a new take on this oft-seen veg. Among the big­ger plates, rich beef cheek with chick­peas and charred egg­plant just needed an ex­tra shake of salt to shine. A crack­ing crème brulée served with gin­ger­bread-y bis­cotti is a lovely way to fin­ish, though so is an­other splash of Pyre­nees shi­raz.

I’m not sure why some­where with ‘wine’ on the door wouldn’t pour glasses of the stuff at the ta­ble, but it’s the only hic­cup in ser­vice that’s coun­try warm and wel­com­ing. Promis­ing a fine wine time but with bar­gain beer to boot, Con­lan’s is a fairy good wine bar.

34 Bank St, Port Fairy, con­lan­swine­store.com.au

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