Old Palm Liquor
Old Palm Liquor is the sequel to North Fitzroy’s six-years-older Neighbourhood Wine.
The two venues have a lot in common – not least great taste in music and a well-worn aesthetic that puts you at ease right away. But where Neighbourhood Wine suggests “gilded speakeasy” (the gangster Alphonse Gangitano once ran an illegal casino on the site), Old Palm Liquor is a weirdly coherent mix of golden-brown timber panels, stretched rattan ceilings, fans with blades like canoe paddles, vintage pokies-room padded stools and genuine ’80s brown tiles. If a post-war Italian social club took over a plantation-style home, this might be the result.
The wine list here is really outstanding, whether judged by range (300-ish bottles), geographic diversity (wines from Japan? You bet), value for money (the house red and white come from Koerner in South Australia, and they’re nine bucks each), or adventurousness (e.g. an unusual blend of riesling, sav blanc, semillon, vermentino and gewürztraminer). Unless you’re undyingly loyal to Penfolds and other legacy labels, there’s something here for you. The bar even has Guinness on tap, alongside several good local beers.
On that note, you’re welcome to drop into Old Palm for a drink and nothing else. But as is the case at so many wine bars in this city, you’ll probably want to eat once you get here. You can start light, with a couple of oysters and some grilled seasonal veggies. The short menu is at its most interesting once you hit mains, though. Riffing on her South African heritage, chef and co-owner Almay Jordaan works with a grill that’s halfway between a braai and an Argentinean parrilla to imbue king oyster mushrooms, meat and fish with a delicate smokiness.