If you’ve ever looked for a good bottle of natural wine in Northcote, you’ll have likely visited Samuel Pepys. The boutique wine store across the road from Palace Cinemas Westgarth has been stocking bottles purchased directly from producers since 2017. But in April last year, co-owner Shane Barrett (Bomba, Armanda Imports) passed the keys to new owner Joey Eldar, who was working as a part-time wine buyer at the store.
After a few months of renovations, Eldar has relaunched Samuel Pepys as a boutique bottle shop and wine bar. The shop is now open from midday for wines by the glass and small bites.
“I feel like it’s something that was missed in Westgarth,” says Eldar. “Nothing is really open here before five o’clock for a drink.”
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The by-the-glass menu changes a few times a week, but the Samuel Pepys crew are happy to open a bottle if something special takes your fancy. “Ask questions,” Eldar encourages. “We are always keen to open bottles for customers who show interest.”
There are more than 400 bottles to either take home or to enjoy in-house (corkage is $25) and the store has a strong range of interesting drops for under $30, as well as a selection of “rare gems” and skin-contact wines from Europe and Australia.
Eldar has retained the shop’s wine racks, but has added al fresco tables and a centrepiece bar made from a single piece of Western Australian jarrah wood.
He’s also installed a brand new kitchen. “The back kitchen was like an old house, so I had to put a commercial one in,” he tells Broadsheet. For now, the evolving day-to-day menu features tried and tested wine snacks like Cuca tinned sardines, clams and squid; a selection of cheeses; cured meats, including salami and ham; and terrine. But Eldar plans to make good use of the new kitchen by hosting pop-ups.
The owner spent three years managing Miznon before working front-of-house at Bar Liberty in 2020. He hopes to host the Miznon team and Bar Liberty head chef Zachary Furst in the revamped Samuel Pepys for pop-up events, and has plans to invite importers and producers to take over the wine list on occasion.