Raise a glass to Melbourne’s wine bar renaissance.
Libby Curran and Gary Brun
Published on June 01, 2023
Updated on August 28, 2023


Opening a wine bar seems to be the hippest of moves these days, though as you've probably noticed from the likes of Gertrude Street's Marion and Bar Clarine, the game has definitely changed. "Stiff and stuffy" has been turfed in favour of a far friendlier model — and as drinkers become more adventurous, those wine lists get way more interesting.

Embla is an example of this breed of Melbourne wine bar, and it's a prime one at that. Brought to you by those clever folks behind The Town Mouse (that sadly closed back in 2018), the Russell Street space is instantly inviting, with a chic, yet warm, European charm. The cosy confines mark it as perfect date night material, while stools lining the bar and open kitchen lend themselves perfectly to some sophisticated solo dining.

embla - wine bar melbourne

A considered pouring list plays to both the curious and the more conservative. Here, you'll feel just as comfortable sipping a chardonnay from Mornington as you will avoiding a hangover with a low-intervention number, like the 2011 Pheasant's Tears Rkatsiteli from Georgia.

Technique-driven, but not pretentiously so, the food at Emlba is as great as you'd expect from the Town Mouse team; the menu proves a winning blend of comforting flavours and cheffy flair. Sophisticated snackers are in excellent hands with the likes of snapper carpaccio and smoked duck liver parfait.

embla - wine bar melbourne

Hungrier punters can aim straight for the spatchcock poussin with lemon leaf and capers or the lamb leg with romano beans, tomatoes and almonds. However you choose to tackle the menu, be sure to leave room for desserts — those New Year's resolutions will fly right out the window with one bite of the barley koii creme caramel with stout and burnt pepper. 

Embla's vibe is polished, yet friendly, and the staff know their stuff. Minor glitches on a busy Thursday night are easily forgiven, smoothed over with deft professionalism and a rather charming French accent. Everything here's designed to make you feel right at home, but far from bored. And what better place to raise a glass to Melbourne's wine bar renaissance?

embla - wine bar melbourne

Images: Thomas E. Graham


Appears in:

The Best Wine Bars in Melbourne for 2023


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