Set along a busy strip in Highett, Railway Wine Bar is the south-east’s newest addition from seasoned hospo experts, co-owners Matt Vero and Matt Ward.
The Matts, who first met in 2010, are also behind Teo’s Pizza in Malvern and Highett. “We really liked the idea of a wine bar [and felt that] was missing in Highett. So when the shop next door to our restaurant became available, we just took it,” Ward tells Broadsheet.
Between them, the pair boast some serious hospo experience. Vero is was part of the teams behind the redevelopment of The Orrong Hotel, Marquis of Lorne, Mount Erica Hotel and the newly revamped Healesville Hotel. Ward has been opening cafes since 2012 including Townhouse.
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At the new 60-seat venue, which was previously an aquarium shop, a burgundy facade creates a warm and inviting feeling which continues inside, thanks to richly painted interiors and soft amber lighting. The fit-out, which was designed by Jason Blake, includes a mix of dark timber tables and chairs, benches dotted with olive green accents, a feature wall with white cladding and an indoor fireplace to dial up the cosy atmosphere. Guests can also relax at tables on the footpath and, shortly, in the soon-to-open 20-seat courtyard.
The wine list is focused on minimal-intervention drops and showcases Australian vineyards. There are 24 wines by the glass including Patch Wines’ Disco Lemonade merlot rose, a Martingale Estate chardonnay and Mount Macleod pinot noir from Gippsland. There are also around 60 whites and 60 reds available by the bottle. They’re mainly local drops, but there’s a tight selection of bottles from France, Italy, Spain and New Zealand, including one of the Matts’ favourites – sauvignon blanc from Marlborough winery (NZ), Dog Point.
Four beer taps pour the likes of Cheltenham brewery Bad Shepherd and 3 Ravens in Thornbury. There are classic cocktails including Espresso Martinis, Margaritas, Negronis and Aperol Spritzes. And for those wanting a good time sans alcohol, there are non-boozy botanical spritzes and a zero-alc chilled red.
For food, graze on a cheese board served with quinces, smoked almonds, olives, dried figs and crackers, or order anything off the Teo’s menus. You might go for a classic caprese salad, crispy oven-baked gnocchi or one of its many woodfired pizza options, including the popular Matteo’s Special, complete with stracciatella, cherry tomatoes, prosciutto di San Daniele, parmesan and rocket.
The duo already has their next project in sight and hope to open a bar to accompany Teo’s at Malvern.