Love, Tilly Devine reopened on Friday with an updated look, a new menu and a fresh wine program. Over seven years the venue has carved itself a spot as one of the city’s favourite wine bars (along with recent offshoot Dear Sainte Eloise), but owner Matt Swieboda isn’t happy resting on his laurels.
“Opening Dear Sainte Eloise really taught us a few things and made us think about why we opened Love, Tilly Devine in the first place,” Swieboda says. “We’re taking things back as much as moving forward. We want to revisit that idea of introducing people to wine styles that they might not be familiar with and really champion young Aussie producers.”
When Love, Tilly Devine opened in 2010, the brief was to showcase Australian wine producers whose lo-fi approach was beginning to gestate into a proper movement. “We had a specific criteria. We only worked with biodynamic, organic and low-intervention winemakers,” said Swieboda. “It’s interesting to see that what we were looking for in wine has become the norm. The things we wanted to happen in local winemaking have happened.”
Expect to see the likes of the new Thousand Candles project from Yarra Valley producer Stuart Proud; Dane Jones’s Momento Mori wines and a new vintage from James Erskine’s Jauma collaborator Mark Warner. “There will be a few European labels as well – some international standard holders – to provide context and illustrate just how far we’ve come.”
Chef Ben Abiad will act as executive chef across both bars. A new menu will focus on sustainability. “We will be using a lot more vegetables, but it’s not vegetarian strictly speaking,” said Swieboda. “Our chefs are committed to sustainability. They’re all really young guys and they’re concerned about where they’ll be sourcing produce from when they’re my age.”
Abiad’s menu will put an emphasis on smaller dishes. Expect to find plenty of pickles, preserves and share dishes to complement the new wine list.
“Everything you’re going to see is what’s exciting us at the moment,” Swieboda said. “We want to give people in the neighbourhood what they really want,” he said. “We’re really excited.”