Margot Wine Bar
Meg Courtney Hawke and Marcus Mahoney’s friendship is pushing 20 years. They used to catch up at Melbourne’s Tramway Hotel once a week, say they’d drink just one glass of rosé, but then often stay for a few.
When Meg moved to Castlemaine, she found herself wanting to repeat this school-night tradition and couldn’t find a go-to spot. So she got Mahoney to join her in the country and they opened Margot Wine Bar inside the heritage-listed Butterworth, which operated as a store from 1857 and then a pub from 1874.
Margot has a cosy vintage aesthetic. New wooden booth seatings hark back to 1920s diner days, made by local sculptor Mark Anstey of Lot 19. Anstey also hand-built the bar and tables from reclaimed timber, adding an old church pew along one wall and maintaining the original rendered brick walls and front windows. There’s a second dining room out the back, and a courtyard beyond.
Aside from being the kind of place to enjoy wine and cheese post-dusk, Margot also fills that awkward afternoon gap when most cafes are closed and restaurants aren’t open yet. This means you can pop by for a coffee or tea from 4pm.
The food menu includes a classic cheeseburger with fries; lasagne with salad; kimchi fried chicken with slaw; and crispy pork gyoza. Local pastry wizard Johnny Baker makes a chocolate pecan pie for the bar’s dessert menu, and specials are scrawled on the blackboard out front.