From the experienced hospitality-oriented minds and hearts of husband-wife team Jessie and Kym Davidson, comes Kew’s latest and quaintest European wine bar. Serving as the perfect complement to the couple’s multi-award-winning restaurant, Centonove, Bar Alba channels the old-world charm of Italy’s enoteche while simultaneously respecting the bones of its heritage-listed site. In fact, Bar Alba is an establishment that could be described as “Melbourne art deco meets Mediterranean opulence”, one that “takes cues from Kew’s renowned interwar architecture”. This intimate wine bar’s intentions are simple and straightforward – to showcase fine Italian produce and to celebrate the warm, communal and sociable Italian lifestyle with the local residents. The aesthetic is an ode to classic, comfortable and timeless design and has been brought to life within an elegant space that is not so much concerned with perfection but, rather, with the long-term goal of ageing well and with the immediate goal of helping guests to relax and enjoy themselves.
Upon entry to Bar Alba, the eye cannot resist being drawn to the interior’s showpiece, an awesome 9m-long bar that is wrapped in rich emerald-green scalloped panelling. Brass footrests and an elegant marbled bar top round out this impressive monolith. Located opposite the bar, a luxurious green leather banquette beckons guests to experience its comfort and intimacy. The space is extended upward by meticulously restored 3.6m-high white timber ceilings, and curved walls imbue a softening effect by providing a stark juxtaposition against the metal details and fluted wainscoting. Geometric forms, referencing the exterior heritage patterns of the building, are featured on the walls and are punctuated by gold sconces that successfully dust the below seating in a warm, inviting light. As no design detail has been left unconsidered, custom-built walnut joinery supports some of the 400 labels of the finest Italian and Australian wines on offer. European-inspired graphics provide a tasteful and appropriate touch to the interior, as does a small brass plaque at the entrance, to the exterior. Specifically, the brass plaque echoes that overwhelming sense of subtlety witnessed while walking the streets of Italy. Overall, Bar Alba can accommodate 37 patrons across 3 interior dining heights, as well as 10 in its separate illuminated courtyard.
Bar Alba, Kew
Bar Alba, Kew
The food menu has been created by Head Chef Patrick Fletcher, who also oversees the Centonove kitchen – the capacity in which he has earned 10 ‘Good Food Guide’ Chefs Hats over the past 11 years. As Bar Alba aims to celebrate the sharing of fine food and wine, Fletcher’s menu is classic, innovative and easy to share. It is a smart, modern Italian snack list developed to complement the bar’s pre-eminent wine list. Consider St Helens Pacific oyster, gin mignonette, lemon; Nardin anchovy, goat’s curd, fennel pollen, crostini; spanner crab and seaweed toast; fried potato cakes with sour cream and Italian caviar; a selection of salumi, pickles and olives; taramasalata with Yarra Valley caviar patatine fritte (“chips” in Italian); stracciatella, Sicilian tomato, 24-year-old balsamic and garlic crostini; and pizza fritta – one of the oldest forms of pizza and the classic street food of Naples – with tomato, oregano and Parmigiano Reggiano. Complete your Mediterranean shared culinary workout with cannoli alla Siciliana and/or 50g of Victorian cheese, quince paste and flatbread, and your evening is complete – aside from the additional glasses of wine, of course. During six trips to Italy in the last five years, Head Chef Fletcher has sourced some exciting inspiration from some of the country’s finest bars. In other words, Bar Alba guests are assured an authentic European wine bar experience. Visit Bar Alba at 132 Cotham Road, Kew, and do your part to help unite the neighbourhood and build the community.