As the minds behind (and owners of) much-loved Fitzroy North haunt Neighbourhood Wine, Simon Denman and Almay Jordaan have some pretty good experience for opening a sequel venue. With the their original venue so well-loved, it's safe to expect a winning formula now that their new wine bar Old Palm Liquor has opened its doors in Brunswick East.
Once again, the duo's created a comfortable, laidback destination that's on the right side of comfortable and classy, but not stuffy. But where its sibling has a jazzy, old-school lounge thing going on, Old Palm evokes feelings of some retro rumpus room, through a comfy mix of terrazzo flooring, a splash of vintage beige tilework and a healthy dose of timber veneer in the front section of the bar. And while the front is quite dark and moody, the back has lots of leafy foliage, natural light, a fireplace and a scattering of old-school light fixtures that round out the living room aesthetics.
True to form, wine is a huge part of the offering here, as is an emphasis on good value, top-quality, largely minimal intervention drops from winemakers like Konpira Maru, Das Juice and Yetti & the Kokonut. Expect a carefully sourced lineup plucked from all over the world, alongside a 12-strong range of tap brews – perhaps a citrus and rhubarb sour from Collingwood's Molly Rose Brewing — and a crop of house-bottled cocktail creations, served fresh out of the freezer at minus-20 degrees. On hot days, you can cool down with sips like the signature venetian spritz — made with a biodynamic prosecco, orange and a green olive.
As for the food, it's a generous menu of top-notch produce cooked over hot coals on the woodfired grill, alongside a slew of snackier dishes that feature a bit of Jordaan's South African heritage. After-work drinks sessions might include the likes of beef tartare enlivened with biltong spices and Nardin anchovy, grilled sardines with chakalaka (a South African spicy tomato dressing), or flatbread served ready to drag through some sumac and labneh.
On the heartier side, you'll spy the likes of a cider-brined pork chop matched with confit young garlic, pickled carrot and mint, and a veg-friendly assembly of tamarind eggplant, Japanese mustard greens and pickled mushrooms. Done with decisions? There's also a four-course shared feast option for $75 a head, which'll take you through a diverse spread of the menu's best.
Images: Julia Sansone