From the street, it’s hard to tell what Black Bottle is. A line-drawn jellyfish hovers in a neon halo, casting a white glow over the pair of tables on the terrace veranda. You have to approach the small plaque to read the words, “Wine Bar, Cave á Manger, European Small Plates”. In France, it’s called a cave á manger. In Venice, cicchetti and in Spain, a tapas bar.
Black Bottle doesn’t have a menu. Order from the display fridge; whatever items from the day’s offering take your fancy. Think pickled mushrooms and chewy baby octopus with fennel seeds served in small glass jars. A rillette made from slow-cooked rabbit is smeared on crunchy slices of toasted sourdough.
There are cured meats hanging from the ceiling, cheeses, an assortment of delicately pickled things in jars and market-fresh seafood, ready for a quick flash on the konro, a Japanese ceramic barbeque.
The wine list is by Samantha Payne, sommelier for Billy Kwong. It’s approachable, affordable and made up exclusively of small producers. Wine is served by the glass, bottle or carafe. Wines start at $8, and cocktails, such as Negronis, are $12.
The coffee is probably the cheapest in town, and it’s good. Espresso is $2, and long blacks are $3.