Focusing on natural and minimal intervention wines, Where's Nick is a sign of things to come in the wine bar market, and also for the suburb of Marrickville. The area has seen a slate of new operators heading in recently, and the brothers — Julian and Dominic Abouzeid — behind the new venue took over a cake shop after noticing the area had an up and coming market and little competition. They kept the cake shop sign out the front but the long bar, bottle display and chalk board of wines by the glass let you know things have changed.
It's said that wine with less chemicals gives you less of a hangover, so, with that in mind, we head straight for a Dormilona garganega from Veneto ($12) — it's delicious and pleasingly free of cloudy funk character. For anyone who isn't sure if they buy into the natural wine movement, Where's Nick is a good place to start. Julian is on the floor explaining grape varieties and giving tastes of wines and he has a humble approach to grape chat. Both of them also conduct wine classes on a communal table out the back.
Out the front, things are pretty straight forward — a small menu of meat and cheese boards and mini pizze are what they turn out from a tiny prep area. The dough is made by a local guy and, in this case, is topped with roast pumpkin, rocket, feta, chilli and onion jam ($15.) It won't win any awards for authenticity, and the dough was slightly undercooked, but it does the job of lining the stomach before more wine.
There are some knockout wine options to try, like the smooth and spicy Patrick Sullivan pinot noir from Taggerty ($13.50) or an interesting mid-weight juicy Italian number called aglianico, made in McLaren Vale ($12.50). They have an impressive collection of gin, and do some simple mixed drinks and a few cocktails, too, but the hero here is the wine. The set-up is pretty minimal, with black painted walls and mismatched chairs.
The meat board ($18) is generous with bresaola, sopressa from Feather and Bone, bread from Cornersmith and veal and pork terrine made by their mum Liza. The infamous Nick is the third brother in the family and on the night we visited he was working behind the bar. While service can be a little green at times, and it sometimes feels like they could be selling harder via table service, things here are pleasantly relaxed. Where's Nick is a great new local with an authentic and fresh perspective on wine. After thorough research we can report that natural wines still give you hangovers — but, even so, they're totally worth it.
Images: Kitti Smallbone