Just opposite the Rivoli Cinema, and next door to Young’s Wine Rooms, East End has a good selection of wines with what co-owner Rich Donovan describes as “a linear appreciation of the grape”, or old-world wines made with simple production methods.
About half of the list leans European, and there are plenty of biodynamic and natural options on hand. The rest is made up of familiar locals such as Jamsheed, Onannon, and Pat Sullivan from Gippsland.
“[Pat] appreciates what Victoria has to offer as winemaking state,” Donovan says. “The boys from Onannon also prefer to make wines that are not about them, but more about the place.”
There are just four classic cocktails on the list: a Spritz, a Negroni, an Old Fashioned and a Pimm’s Cup.
The polished 130-person bar was once home to Young’s Auction Rooms, which closed in 2015 after operating for 84 years.
“We started out aiming for the atmosphere of a classic English pub, but it turned into something a bit slicker,” says Donovan.
The final product is a much glossier take, incorporating slate-blue velvet booths, dark floors and golden-hued downlights, but that original pub concept comes through in the way the room is divided. A handful of inviting nooks encourage settling in for a long session, and there’s a sunny courtyard that can be enclosed on cooler days.
You can take any bottle from the floor-to-ceiling shelves home with you for $15 off the list price, but if you’re drinking in, check out the compact food menu, full of easy-drinking fare and elevated European ingredients.
“It’s all about simplicity,” says Donovan. “Just pizza, cheese, meats – all the things that go well with wine.” An ever-changing chalkboard menu might list La Boqueria jabali (wild boar salami), or duck rilettes and chicken-liver pate, both from French eatery Franco-Belge over the road, and “made with a lot of love and butter”, according to Donovan.
The hefty cheese selection also leans European, particularly toward France. It might include gems like Valdeon IGP (a rich and buttery cow-and-goat blue matured in sycamore leaves) or a nutty, cave-aged Gruyere. There are some interesting vegan cheeses too, such as an ashed “chevre” from the Vegan Dairy.
Grab a crisp Burnley Brewing East End Lager – a brew Gijsbers developed specially for the bar – and order one of the pizzas named after the owners, such as the Tatey (garlic, potato, rosemary and fior de latte) or the Gawny (lamb, mint and smoked scarmoza).
East End Wine Bar
225 Camberwell Road, Hawthorn East
(03) 9882 2212
Mon & Tue 4pm–10pm
Wed & Thu 4pm–11pm
Fri & Sat 12pm–12am