When Pentridge opened as a penitentiary 172 years ago, it would have been hard to imagine the site as it looks today. Hard mattresses have been traded for plush velvet couches and bluestone prison cells transformed into a new wine bar.

Olivine, part of Pentridge’s Adina Apartment Hotel, is led by sommelier and wine writer Liinaa Berry, formerly of Adelaide’s 2KW bar and restaurant. Berry has chosen bottles from a mix of longstanding, highly esteemed producers and up-and-coming producers – particularly local ones – who she thinks deserve a spotlight.

The encyclopedic wine list includes more than 500 bottles from Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and Italy, broken down into chapters according to country and subregion. Each section includes an introduction from Berry and anecdotes about the different areas and producers, and their winemaking styles.

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There are also maps and monochromatic blue or green watercolours by Melbourne artist Elizabeth Nicholls depicting landmarks, bottles, cellars, landscapes and table settings from each region. The section on Bordeaux is accompanied by a storybook-style painting of the Chateau Maison Blanche, and McLaren Vale is illustrated with a twisted old vine.

The snacky menu follows the lead of sibling restaurant North & Common, with executive chef Mark Glenn (ex- Cumulus, Dinner by Heston), heading up both. Snacky bites include smoked cream-cheese choux with caviar, delicate scallop and yuzu tarts, and hibachi-charred cucumbers on a bed of cashew cream and sorrel pesto.

Glenn’s use of fresh herbs, vegetables and contrasting textures results in food that’s bright in both colour and flavour, and stands in contrast to venue’s dark, sultry interiors. “There's a little bit more fun and freedom in what you can do in a wine bar,” he says. “We still want really good-quality food, but it doesn't need to be a very serious situation.”

1 Pentridge Boulevard, Coburg
(03) 9100 9116

Mon to Sun 5pm–late