11° & RAINY ON THURSDAY 30 MARCH IN MELBOURNE
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A boutique bottle shop and wine bar beneath a Collingwood apartment building.

The streets of Collingwood might be sprouting apartment blocks at an alarmingly dizzying rate, but at least a few of them are gifting us with new public venues nestled in their lower levels. In the past six months we've welcomed Peel Street's Oxford Larder, the Yorkshire Brewhouse, and now Comptoir Cellar — a wine bar, boutique bottle shop and snacking destination at the base of Stanley Street's Oxley residences.

Owners David Lawler and Tim Sacklin have racked up some solid sommelier credentials at the likes of Rockpool, Rosetta and Vue de Monde, and all that passion and experience lends a relaxed confidence to both the space and the carefully curated wine selection it plays host to.

The wine bar portion of the room nails the 'charming drinking den' brief; shelves stocked with gourmet pantry items and hefty wine tomes, the stools lining the bar and a marble-topped communal table invite you to settle in, soak it all up, and celebrate some wine. Pull up a pew and opt for something from the day's short-but-sweet pouring list – perhaps a Chardonnay from Bindi in Gisborne ($16 glass), or a Sicilian red in the form of Paccamora's 2014 Nero d'Avola ($7 glass). A tight selection of beers is equally crafty, or you could wander down to the neat rows of wine and select a bottle to drink in, for a $10 corkage fee.

Without a kitchen, the culinary offering runs to fresh, simple drinking fare. Charcuterie, cheese and a handful of grazing options will sit happily alongside your after-work glass of Riesling and let the vino do most of the talking.

Strips of prosciutto arrive at the table, fresh from the slicer and arranged beneath bread sticks and clouds of soft mozzarella ($16). A jar of rather lush chicken liver pâté ($15.50) will have you hounding through the accompanying baguette slices with blissful, carb-loving abandon. Elsewhere on the menu, you'll find the classic Italian sliced veal dish vitello tonnato ($15.50) along with smoked salmon ($18) and a daily-changing hot dish, for anyone hankering something a little heartier.

Out the front, a stretch of sunny street-side tables hold the promise of many afternoon spritz sessions to come. Now that's a situation we'd love to find at the bottom of our apartment building.

Images: Gareth Sobey. 

Published on December 22, 2016 by Libby Curran

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