For anyone who has resided in – or spent any significant amount of time in – Boroondara during the past 25 years, the words “Nevermind Bar” will elicit an immediate jingle from the familiarity bells. This “unassuming, friendly, quaint bar with great food and a lively, carefree atmosphere” has been fuelling the local area with beer, wine and burgers since 1998. Plainly and simply, Nevermind Bar is a Hawthorn hospitality icon, to say the very least. Seemingly spontaneously, in 2015, a growing passion for wine began to infect Nevermind’s co-owners. As a result, the venue began stocking high-end bottles of wine and famously advertising a “$600 cheeseburger with a free bottle of Penfolds” deal. Left unbridled, this oenological passion continued to grow and gather momentum until, ultimately, a handful of staff together with the owners decided to open a wine bar literally around the corner from their tried-and-true neighbourhood favourite. This new venture, appropriately named Luton Lane Wine Bar after its location at 8 Luton Lane, Hawthorn, represents an evolution in growing up, one could say, and a considerable leap in sophistication. It is interesting to note, as well, that neither credentialed wine experts nor sommeliers may be found within the ownership team. Rather, a simple, straightforward and genuine appreciation for drinking good wine is what provides the impetus for Luton Lane Wine Bar.
Like its considerably older sibling, this monochromatic and cosy space – positioned beneath a residential apartment block – is every bit a unique find. Luton Lane Wine Bar offers great wines, fun cocktails and easy, relaxed food. It is the fruition of the inspiration to imbue the local area with somewhat of an inner-city vibration, and upon entering, it is immediately apparent that this has seamlessly been achieved. Polished cement pillars stretching to the high ceiling and glass lampshades provide the perfect support for the space’s feature piece, a long and swerving marble bar. Hanging greenery successfully offsets the polished concrete, and a leafy outdoor balcony reminds patrons that humanity is very much interwoven into the fabric of nature. The sonic ambience favours low-key funk, soul, R&B and hip-hop which, of course, is a marked departure from Nevermind Bar’s healthy diet of techno. A modestly sized wine list containing local, national and international selections has been created to specifically suit every palate. The Yarra Valley, Clare Valley, Barossa Valley, King Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Gippsland and Beechworth are some of the Australian production regions which feature. If you, like many, wish to expand your wine knowledge and take a few risks, a sommelier is available for guidance. Solid beer and classic/experimental cocktail lists are also available.
Luton Lane Wine Bar, Hawthorn
To reiterate, Luton Lane Wine Bar excels in easy and relaxed food. Its young, passionate chef creates tapas-style dishes which match extraordinarily with the available wine. For those partial to fruits de mer, or fruits of the sea, start your culinary journey with 3, 6 or 12 oysters served natural, with bloody mary granita or Japanese style, in tempura. Market-fresh prawns, Marie Rose sauce and cos lettuce comprise the prawn cocktail, while crispy fried calamari served with herb mayo and lemon and Moroccan-spiced chargrilled octopus skewers with tahini remoulade round out the seafood selections. Something on the heartier side might include the charcuterie platter (cured meats, cheese, olives, dip), pumpkin arancini balls made with caramelised onion and feta, brisket buns (beef brisket, kimchi kewpie mayo in bayo buns), chargrilled French-cut lamb cutlets with feta salad and a garlic-rosemary sauce and/or house-made chicken tortelloni accompanied with parmesan sauce and sage. If the sweet tooth is misbehaving and requires some attention, warm doughnuts with chocolate dipping sauce, lemon tart with cream and strawberry trifle are on call to ensure an appropriate conclusion to the meal. Similar to the wine list, the food menu has been created with the intention of being broad and approachable, which is why Luton Lane Wine Bar is the perfect destination for drinks, snacks, dinners, dates, after-work catch-ups and private parties. Bookings are recommended; walk-ins are welcome.
Luton Lane Wine Bar, Hawthorn