If you’ve ever left a fine-dining experience most enamoured by the snacks, Auterra is the wine bar for you. Located on High Street in Armadale, it’s the second venture from chef Clinton McIver, who in 2016 opened the elegantly understated Amaru just across the road (and before that was sous chef at Vue de Monde).
McIver and head chef Steven Harry have developed a fancy finger-food menu of around 15 items, and most dishes don't even crack the $20 mark. The bite-sized snacks are more playful than at Amaru, but they replicate the standard and philosophy. Think savoury spanner-crab doughnuts with salted cucumber, aged-Comte eclairs with pear, panko-crumbed king prawns and kimchi on poppyseed milk buns, boudin blanc hotdogs with Japanese pickles, and XO mussels served in pairs.There’s also a tender smoked kangaroo tartare (with anchovy) on rye, and for dessert: an earthy shitake mushroom sundae.
The drinks list is constantly evolving and has a particular focus on the under-the-radar producers. It's been assembled by venue manager and sommelier Jenna Phillpott (ex-Dinner by Heston, and Vue de Monde sommelier) and group sommelier Duncan Peppiatt. It’s organised by appellation and moves through the styles and textures of a number of different regions. There’s also an impressive, splash-out-worthy champagne list with bottles exceeding $500, as well as more approachable by-the-glass options from around $12.
Three cocktails are also available: a classic Negroni; a fresh, aromatic vodka number with ginger, lemongrass and lemon aspen; and a blend of rum, Lillet Blanc and chamomile.
Melbourne architect Iva Foschia designed the fit-out around a graduating colour palette, inspired by terroirs across the world. Shades progress from musk to burgundy as you head through the bolthole toward the courtyard, which comes into its own during the warmer months. The main dining room seats 35, with half the venue reserved for walk-ins. Upstairs, there's a private dining room that seats up to a dozen people.