The Carlton Wine Room has been taken over by three heavyweights of Melbourne’s dining scene.

In the kitchen will be John Paul Twomey, who has spent over a decade working with Andrew McConnell, first as head chef at the late Three, One, Two (currently the site of the soon-to-close Town Mouse, located across the road from Carlton Wine Room), next as the founding head chef at Cutler & Co., and finally as development chef for the McConnell group. Most recently he ran the kitchen at Gilson in South Yarra.

Carlton Wine Room’s new co-owner is Andrew Joy, who’s also a long-time member of the McConnell crew – 12 years, in fact – and met Twomey when they worked together at Three, One, Two. Most recently, he’s been managing McConnell’s Gertrude Street wine bar Marion.

Joining Joy on the lease is the restaurant’s new head sommelier Travis Howe, who comes from eight years as sommelier at Coda and Tonka. The wine list will begin with 100 bottles, which will come from all parts of the world.

For the trio, “this is a bit of a coming home,” Joy says.

In the days he worked at Three, One, Two, Joy says he’d cross the road to Carlton Wine Room and think, “What an amazing building, wouldn’t it be amazing to do something with it?” And it was the building that ultimately lured them in. “It’s such a stunning and iconic corner.”

What the group intended to be “some minor refurbishment” has turned “major”.

“We want to respect the history of the building,” Joy says. “We’re pairing it back to look more simple and elegant.”

They’ve added a new event space upstairs and overhauled the cellar so that it too can be used for functions.

Despite their CVs, “we’re not going down the fine-dining road,” says Joy. “The focus is on approachability.”

The Carlton Wine Room will open on Monday February 26.

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