When someone like Andrew McConnell opens a wine bar, the expectations are high. When that bar sits beside the guy's iconic, two-hat Fitzroy restaurant Cutler & Co., forming some kind of wining and dining super-spot, you can bet they're even higher.
But you can rest assured that McConnell's latest venture lives up to all that hype. Marion takes over the two-room space that housed Supernormal back in its pop-up days, and it's a solid addition to Gertrude Street's ever-growing hospitality scene.
Looking around the sophisticated space, you'll find a mix of Fitzroy's hip, young things, grazing on charcuterie and showing off their grape knowledge, and more mature punters, quaffing interesting wines while they wait for their table next door. The space itself bears a similar blend of young and old; a brushed copper bar and khaki banquettes offset the concrete and exposed brick.
The drinks list is a stunner — an exhaustive compilation with something for every palate and budget. You can drop by for an aperitif, a couple of glasses of local wine, or really settle in and share your way through a bottle of something foreign.
Serious wine buffs will appreciate the commitment to the more interesting stuff, with orange wines and less familiar grape varieties given lots of list space, and well-informed, staff happy to give you the lowdown. Even the hefty pouring selection features the likes of an excellent skin contact riesling from the Clare Valley ($12) and a La Ficelle Gamay blend from France ($11).
A succinct, rotating food menu hangs on one wall, with dishes ranging from elegant snacks to more generous belly-fillers. At the dainty end, you'll find small plates like the grilled calamari, paired with soft leeks and a romesco sauce ($18), and the ox tongue and mortadella: thin slices of meat, fried crisp and topped with a sweet, mustard fruit relish and bitey horseradish ($12). Bigger appetites can feast on the likes of a 300g porterhouse ($34) or roast chicken ($34).
We're foreseeing many a warm summer afternoon spent at Marion's streetside tables, sipping excellent wine and engaging in some top-notch snacking. It looks like McConnell has done it again.
Images: Harvard Wang