For many of us, going out for a meal and drinks is about merging two great things – delicious food and wine and quality time with friends. And that’s exactly what Banter Wine Bar, the latest Queensberry Street addition, delivers.

“We just wanted to make a wine bar that we’d want to hang out in,” says Clinton Fox, most recently from the Atlantic and Mr Wolf. “A place with simple, quality food and great wine that doesn’t break the bank.”

Fox joined forces with ex-Chin Chin sous chef and fellow Mr Wolf alum Josh Wetere-Sweet to open his first bar and restaurant with a lunch and dinner menu of traditional pizzas and rotating mains.

Banter’s quiet exterior might be easy to pass as you walk down Queensberry Street, but its extensive wine list and tasty pizzas will keep it fresh in your memory. With ingredients sourced from local markets, menu items leave you feeling fresh. The menu focuses on pizza, offering classics like pumpkin, ricotta and pine nuts as well as other non-traditional pizzas – particularly tasty is the caramelised leek and gorgonzola.

Despite the seemingly simple menu, Fox and Wetere-Sweet are all about exploring new flavours; sides like the apple, cabbage, mint and chilli salad are a lovely surprise with a clean finish. If you’re not into pizza, you’re not forgotten. Two rotating mains, currently a braised veal shoulder or seasonal mushroom risotto for the vegetarians, and a variety of bar snacks will do the trick.

When flicking through the wine list, it’s clear that Fox truly has a passion for sourcing interesting drops from all over the world. Wine lovers are already praising Banter – surprising, considering it only opened a week ago. And fortunately for the casual wine drinker, all of this great wine comes sans pretentious facade.

Banter’s doors might be open, but Fox still has more plans for the future. Within the next few weeks, we can expect outdoor seating (with heating) and a new wine-based cocktail list to compliment Banter’s simplistic Italian style. And to much excitement, Fox and Wetere-Sweet are in the process of developing a set wine-based cocktail and food pairing menu. Count us in.

Banter offers takeaway for all menu items and pizza delivery is in the works. But with crisp design by Deanie Madrusan (who also designed The Everleigh), Banter’s cosy glow will make you want to stay. And why not? The wine is great and the food satisfies.

Banter Wine Bar
562 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
(03) 9041 4511

Tues to Sun noon–11pm