Rewind 10 years. Most of us weren’t sipping natural wine on an average Friday night. But what a difference a decade makes.
Minimal-intervention drops sit pride of place on any wine list in Adelaide worth ordering from. But time for Leigh Street's first dedicated all-natural-wine bar (joining La Buvette on Gresham Street and The Summertown Aristologist in the Hills) is ripe.
Leigh Street Wine Room, due to open in the West End in late July, will replace the longstanding dry cleaners next to Udaberri, joining a precinct with some of the city’s best drinking dens. With Pink Moon Saloon, Clever Little Tailor, Maybe Mae, Alfred’s Bar and Malt & Juniper – to name a few – all within a 200-metre radius, competition is stiff. But owner Nathan Sasi knows how to make an impact.
The famed Sydney chef opened opulent Spanish diner Mercado in 2016 after making a splash at Nomad. He’s currently executive chef across Oliver Brown’s venues NOLA, The Stag (and soon-to-open Yiasou George), and Anchovy Bandit.
The strictly natural wine list will be SA-heavy, with big names such as Lucy Margaux, Shobbrook Wines and Gentle Folk, as well as Margaret River producer Revelation, which Sasi says is making “some of the best wine in Australia at the moment”. On the international front, expect a strong French slant, plus some drops from Italy and Spain.
There’ll be around 100 listed bottles, but what’s on-pour will differ from day to day. “We’ve got some really great allocations but some stuff we might only have two or three bottles of,” Sasi says.
Debate on whether the term “natural wine” is still useful has been swirling recently. “It’s a little hard to define in this day and age,” says Sasi. “We’ll focus on producers that either farm organically, bio-dynamically, or use as little intervention in the winemaking process as possible.”
The beer and cider list will be similarly lo-fi. Try beers fermented with wild, native yeast by Sydney brewer Wildflower. Plus there’ll be pre-batch cocktails.
Sasi has tapped Studio-Gram to design an intimate, 40-seat spot that bucks the trend of its timber-clad neighbours. A sprawling terrazzo bar (with seats on either side) will run down the middle. Above, there’ll be a dome ceiling and what’s almost become the calling card of West End bars – a mezzanine level. “A lot of the other projects I’ve owned and run have been very big, restaurant-y ones,” Sasi says. This one is only 100-odd square metres, “But some of the bars I love most have really tight, cosy atmospheres,” he says.
The menu will be mostly (but not wholly) European. There’ll be a dozen or so small plates, a few hand-rolled pastas, and some larger proteins. In a tiny, two-person kitchen, Sasi will butcher all his own meat and turn out as much house-made charcuterie, cheese (it’s his thing) and bread as possible.
Adelaide’s proximity to top-notch produce gets him excited, and his dishes will reflect that. “Everyone talks about farm-to-table, but we’ll be communicating with growers on a daily basis,” Sasi says, calling out Mayura Station Wagyu beef, Boston Bay Berkshire pork, Coffin Bay oysters, Section 28 cheese and Ngeringa vegetables. He’s also been on the ground at farmers markets across the state scouring for potential suppliers.
Leigh Street Wine Room will open in late July.
This article was updated on May 1. An earlier version incorrectly stated Leigh Street Wine Room would be the CBD's first all-natural-wine bar.