Pair one of 120 wines with caviar-topped fried chicken at this Sydney Road wine bar in a 150-year-old building.
If you're after a wine bar that doesn't take itself too seriously, yet still packs a solid punch in the flavour department, consider Sydney Road's latest destination. With a casual, cheeky vibe befitting its name, Rascal is the newest offering from the former head chef of Jackalope Hotel's Doot Doot Doot, Elliott Pinn (Sepia, Flying Fish).
Co-owners Harrison Peace, Simon Henderson and John Ryan (The Vale Bar and Eatery, Glamorama) have worked their magic on the space, transforming the 150-year-old building — previously the historic Cumberland Arms Hotel — with a textured grey granite-topped bar, an assortment of cosy nooks and a striking mural by Melbourne artist Minna Leunig.
Unsurprisingly, Pinn's menu brims with creativity, technique and native ingredients, promising the ultimate accompaniment to any drinking session. Tuck into plates like the roasted carrots topped with mead and bee pollen ($9); kingfish done with blueberry dashi, kohlrabi and horseradish ($18); or an assembly of lamb neck, smoked potato and black garlic ($34). Fried chicken comes teamed with Rascal hot sauce ($14) and optional caviar ($34), a kangaroo tartare stars daikon ($18), and the chef's menu clocks in at $65.
Meanwhile, the drinks list requires a spot of decision-making, featuring over 50 beers, 60 different spirits and more than 120 wines. The broad lineup of vino heroes both old-world drops and more modern iterations, like the Yarra Valley's 'Hippyflip' chardonnay riesling ($62), while the cocktail offering runs from fresh Euro-style sips, to modern revamps of the classics. The Honey Suckle's fusion of white rum, lime and beeswax cordial ($20) should win plenty of fans come summer.