The owners of Hawthorn's Nevermind Bar really outdid themselves when they opened a sophisticated wine bar around the block. Gone are the dive bar-esque stylings of the former — in their place is a classed-up affair of polished cement, hanging greenery and high ceilings, all of which centre on a wrap-around marble bar.
Luton Lane is a European-style wine bar through and through. Behind that bar (and in the fully stocked wine fridge) there are over 100 bottles of wine, with a whopping 17 by the glass ($10–14). Those focus on natural drops and span labels from France, Spain and Argentina, along with quite a few from Victoria's wine regions. At the moment, the must-try is the natural fermentation sparkling by French winemaker Varichon & Clerc.
Other than wine, there are two beer taps and batched classic cocktails by Melbourne's Everleigh Bottling Co. — including the martini, negroni, manhattan and old-fashioned. Grab a seat at that bar or in the leafy outdoor balcony and get to sipping.
The kitchen does Spanish-style bar snacks that change regularly. Think crumbed and fried cherry bocconcini with rosemary ($12), and dutch carrots and chick peas topped with a buckwheat crumble ($10). There's also a trio of charred skewers on offer, including aged wagyu rump with green sauce, shallot and cider chorizo and paprika and oregano chicken ($18 each).
As with any great wine bar, the cheese and charcuterie game is strong — the latter includes specialties like chicken and black truffle terrine ($16) and Spanish tinned stuffed squid in ink ($12). If you've gathered a big group, you can nab the four-course tasting menu for $39 per person, with matched natural wines for an additional $40.