Lilac Wine Bar
Lilac Wine is named after a 1994 Jeff Buckley song, which owner Nathan Toleman and his wife listened to on repeat in their early years together. The musical influence is clear – the long brick warehouse features twin turntables, a small collection of vinyl and four premium Tannoy speakers. The vibes are high.
Toleman, head of the Mulberry Group (Hazel, Dessous, Liminal and more) designed and built the space himself on a modest budget. He left the graffitied red-brick facade on Stephenson Street untouched, while keeping the interior renos simple. Like a stylish Brooklyn loft apartment, there’s exposed brick and paned glass windows on all sides, and cosy Persian rugs cover the floors. Squishy velvet couches make for a comfy front waiting area, and there’s an umbrella-decked side courtyard.
In the open kitchen, chefs work a roaring woodfire oven and separate grill, producing often-smoky dishes with a nostalgic French bistro lean. You might start with house-made charcuterie, charry flatbread or chicken-mousse eclairs with black-garlic “icing”. Mains are likely to be a substantial protein such as lamb or fish. For dessert, expect more tricked-up nostalgia: flan or rum baba.
The wine list is eclectic, featuring more than 150 organic and biodynamic drops from small-scale local and international farmers. Most of the cocktails also incorporate vino in some way, using fortifieds, aperitifs or fermented grape skins. There’s a nostalgic lamington-inspired number that incorporates house-made cherry brandy and spiced coconut liquor, and a fermented-grape-skin Bramble.
As with all the Mulberry Group venues, 10 per cent of all profits from Lilac Wine go to Toleman’s regenerative agriculture farm, Common Ground Project in Freshwater Creek.
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