Siblings Stefan and Sofia Soltys’s venue is a cosy wine bar doing food inspired by that of Hungary, Ukraine and other Eastern European countries. It’s more in line with their Ukrainian heritage than their other business, Frances Food & Coffee.
Borscht and pierogi (dumplings filled with potato and cheddar), the dishes most steeped in tradition, took classic French-trained chef Nathan George a few goes to perfect. Others have a subtler Eastern influence: dill and vodka salmon tartare, buttermilk-braised pork loin with prune jam, and Hungarian placki (like a potato pancake).
Stefan worked the bar at New Gold Mountain and now defunct fine-diner Virginia Plain, so drinks are his forte. Wines are mainly Australian but a rogue Romanian pinot noir and a Georgian tsistka (an indigenous white grape) keep to the theme. There’s also genuine Czech Budvar pilsner (aka the original Budweiser); a selection of cocktails; and Domain Disznoko, a sweet wine from the Tokaji region of Hungary.
The impressive American-oak bar and shelves (where spirits sit alongside house-pickled vegetables) is modelled on Venice’s renowned Harry’s Bar. A large painting on a World War Two canvas army tent is a family heirloom; it depicts the siblings’ great uncle and his comrades, each with their arms around their dream screen girls.