It’s my opinion that rainy Thursday nights in Winter are best spent at home preferably on the couch with ugg boots and a blanket. But an invitation to check out Bellota Wine Bar which has just opened in South Melbourne was enough to drag me out of my centrally heated sloth. Inside it’s white and bright with a long bar loaded up with jars of olives and salami and saucisson hanging in cabinets behind. Although Bellota’s just new it was already packed thanks to the pull of two big names – The Prince Wine Store and Brigitte Hafner.
The Prince covers the wine side of things and Hafner is in charge of the menu as consultant. Because Bellota is next door to the Prince’s South Melbourne store you can buy a bottle of wine from one of the 3,500 on offer and have it with your meal ($15 corkage charge for bottles less than $80). That’s one seriously comprehensive wine list. Look out for interesting bottles like the delicate and floral 2012 Matteo Coreggia Roero Arenis. On the food front, Hafner’s menu is reminiscent of European feel of Gertrude Street Enoteca. The similarity is not surprising given Gertrude Street’s head chef Stefanie Briton has taken the reins at Bellota. It’s great to see not one, but two talented females in charge of the kitchen.
There’s lots of little snacky things which go well with a glass or two of wine like spankingly fresh Moonlight Flat oysters ($4 each) and carved to order charcuterie including melt in the mouth culatello di parma prosciutto.
Briton does only what is necessary to the food. Not more and not less, letting the quality of the produce shine. This means simple, unassuming dishes which still deliver a flavour punch like spaghetti topped with chunks of fresh tuna and salty capers ($18).
It also translates through to French bistro classics like tender confit duck ($26) with creamy scalloped potatos and the most amazing thin, tender piece of fillet steak ($22).
It’s worth leaving room for dessert here as well. I loved the tanginess of the yoghurt pannacotta ($10) drizzled with honey and the walnut tart straddled just the right side of savoury and sweet.
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Gourmet Chick was invited to review Bellota.
Details: Bellota, 181 Bank Street, South Melbourne 3205 (Ph 03 9078 8381) Open Tue-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat 11am-11pm.
Damage: On this occasion I did not pay.