Reine (or “queen” in French) is the forthcoming restaurant from Nomad group, set inside the historical Cathedral Room at the old Melbourne Stock Exchange. The name echoes the grand, regal setting, with its granite columns, mosaic floors and stained glass windows.

La Rue – an eight-seat wine bar the team stealthily opened last week – is directly across the front courtyard from this inimitable space, offering a peek of what’s to come from the headline act in August. Its name, which means “the street”, suits the comparatively modest room. The queen’s cool little sister has sharp angles, black walls, moody lighting and futuristic sliding glass doors that feel like something out of Alex Garland’s sci-fi slow-burner Ex-Machina.

Both venues draw inspiration from New York’s grand brasseries, with a focus on cocktails like the Manhattan and the Martini. But there are no cocktails or spirits on pour at La Rue just yet. Visit today and you can order French and Australian wines by the glass, and beer from Footscray’s Hop Nation. Come back in a few months, though, and there’ll also be a cocktail list which, in addition to highlighting top Australian distillers, will feature French spirits and American whisky and bourbon.

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The Nomad beverage team is also building a robust wine list that – unusually, in Australia’s Europe-oriented scene – puts the spotlight on American wines. The team is particularly excited to showcase drops from the Sonoma Coast, Napa Valley and Oregon.

The wine bar will eventually serve dishes from Reine, but the menu is limited for now. Executive chef Jacqui Challinor has put together simple bar snacks like Ortiz anchovies, saucisson, and green olives served with goat’s curd and mild Espelette chilli.

If you’re after the glitz and glamour promised by Reine, you’ll have to wait a few more months. For now, La Rue offers a great place to hide out on colder nights – and a hint of what to expect later in the year.

La Rue
380 Collins Street, Melbourne
No phone

Mon to Thu 4pm–9pm
Fri 12pm–8pm