Remember Nevermind Bar in Hawthorn? For anyone who didn’t spend a solid chunk of their late-teen years smashing pints in its back courtyard, the narrow bar on Burwood Road has been serving burgers, beer, wine and perplexing blue drinks until 3am on weekends for the last 20 years.
Now, a handful of its staff and co-owners have opened a “grown-up” wine bar around the corner, Luton Lane Wine Bar.
“It’s like a grown-up Nevs,” says co-owner and chef Andrew Hayhoe, because so far most of its customers are Nevermind regulars and some of the regulars’ parents.
“We want it to be as inviting as possible – no techno,” says co-owner Bodhi Bailey.
Hayhoe cuts in: “Can I get that on the record?”
Luton Lane Wine Bar is grown-up indeed. It’s a monochromatic alcove beneath a residential apartment block with polished cement pillars stretching to a high ceiling, glass lamp shades, and a long, swerving marble bar. The “‘unz unz unz”’ has been eclipsed by a single turn table spinning easy-listening hip-hop.
They kept the fit-out in the family. Bailey’s mum designed the interior, while co-owner Joe Downey built the space himself from its empty-shell origins, with Bailey’s help. “I handed him the hammer,” says Bailey.
None of the five are sommeliers or wine experts, they just like drinking it. Bailey says his passion for wine bloomed when in 2015 the Nevermind gang started stocking pricey bottles of wine and offering “$600 cheeseburgers with a free bottle of Penfolds” deals.
“It was a joke to start off with, but people started buying these expensive bottles of wine … People want a nice wine and a nice place to drink it that’s, you know, that’s not Nevermind. That was the start of the idea,” he says.
Co-owner Cameron Jackson, also one of the first co-owners of Nevermind, was responsible for the 120-bottle wine list.
It isn’t committed to one wine region, though a European bent is noticeable, with a sizeable portion of the by-the-glass list from Spain and Italy.
And that’s the direction of the food too. The menu is lengthy for a wine bar, spanning bar snacks in all forms; from ’n’duja and green tomato to jamon pintxos, to tiny tins of Spanish seafood, to charcuterie, cheese and charred skewers of chorizo. Again the idea is to keep it broad and approachable.
A clear favourite among the team comes from the vegetarian section: wrinkled, crisp, papery brussels sprouts served with the glossiest of cheese sauces, a manchego- and-pecorino custard. It’s all good for sharing – even the generous skewers of wagyu rump slices can be split bite -for -bite.
Luton Lane Wine Bar
8 Luton Lane, Hawthorn
(03) 9818 0514
Mon to Sun 3pm–11pm