Is there a better place in Perth to drink wine than William Street? Between establishments such as No Mafia, Shadow Wine Bar, Los Bravos and Wines of While, grape-based good times are all but assured for winos heading north of Yagan Square. Come February, the area’s already impressive wine game will be bolstered by the opening of Northbridge Wine Store.
The latest project from the team behind live music venue The Bird and cocktail bar Ezra Pound, Northbridge Wine Store is modelled on the Italian enoteca and the French cave du vin. Bottles are available to take away or, with corkage, drink in. You can also order by the glass and have a bite to eat. More than anything, owner and group general manager Kabir Ramasary wants his new place to be inclusive rather than exclusive.
“It’s the soul of the community that’s Northbridge,” he say. “It’s the vibe you get down the whole street. Everyone knows each other. We know all of our neighbours.”
Many locals will be familiar with the venue’s former tenant, Young Love Mess Hall. (If not, they’ll at least recognise the much-Instagrammed moon gate, a design feature inherited from the space’s earlier life as Penang Food Restaurant). When the spot reopens in February, it will be split into a wine store-slash-bar and a dining room. While the all-black paint job, handsome bar and hanging devil’s ivy will remain, guests can look forward to new shelving and counters, and additional nooks for drinking and revelry. Some of the key staff will be familiar to punters, too.
Chris Watts, a veteran drinks guy last seen tending bar at Clarences (he recently returned from a year working at vineyards throughout Spain), is consulting on the wine list. He doesn’t want to pigeonhole the cellar, but says the selection will favour smaller producers.
“We’re trying to cater to what people want,” says Watts. “Wine is like the slow-food movement: people want to know where it’s come from. They don’t want these big faceless businesses. Most of the wines we’ll be selling, we’re going to know the producer.”
In the kitchen, chef Chris Howard (Panama Social) – is also big on producers. Although there will be separate menus for the wine bar and the dining room, the style of cooking will be similar.
“The menu is really a narrative of producers and seasons,” says Howard, “using locality, seasonality and incredibly simple execution to showcase very, very good product. Nothing is going to be so odd that you won’t know where you are, but hopefully through good execution and produce, it’s going to better than what you’ve had in the past.”
Dishes will take cues from the Mediterranean and feature producers such as [Warren Grange] and Roly Poly Farm. New Northbridge bakery Miller + Baker will mill the kitchen’s flour to order.
Northbridge Wine Store opens early February.
Northbridge Wine Store
175 William Street, Northbridge