Collingwood has gained a new wine bar-bottleshop with the opening of Comptoir, underneath the Oxley apartment complex on Stanley Street.

It’s the first solo venture for David Lawler and Tim Sacklin, both star sommeliers and veterans of the Rockpool Group. “We’re excited by this looser, less-structured concept of hospitality,” Lawler says.

“It’s not a restaurant, it’s not a bar. This is a comfortable and cosy place where you can come and talk to us for ages about wine if you want, or just have a glass of something delicious and some tasty food.”

Fittingly, Comptoir (counter in French), is dominated by a central counter, bearing the day’s pastries, a beautiful espresso machine and a meat slicer. Shelves along one wall are stocked with take-home pantry items, such as mustards, tinned fish, biscotti, dried pastas and olive oils. The back section is devoted to wine.

“We have about 260 different wines available,” says Lawler, although there will only be four (two whites and two reds) available by the glass at any time. The rest are available to buy, either to take-away or to drink-in for a $10 corkage fee.

For serious connoisseurs or collectors, there’s also a high-tech wine fridge and an off-site cellar full of very special and rare bottles.

Food to eat-in is limited to what can be prepared behind the bar – anchovies, pickled octopus, a selection of cheese, sliced meats such as vitello tonnato (sliced veal with tuna sauce), grandmother ham, bresaola and salami. There will always be one hot dish, which at the moment is a chicken, chorizo and chickpea braise.

Comptoir may be “a little grander” than the tiny, hole-in-the-wall enoteche of Europe it’s inspired by, but Lawler and Sacklin are determined to provide that same level of intimate hospitality.

“We had ideas and a vision of what we wanted this place to be,” says Lawler, “and that’s somewhere very comfortable and cosy, where you get looked after by someone friendly and knowledgeable.”

Comptoir
60 Stanley Street, Collingwood

Hours
Daily 10am–11pm

comptoir.com.au