Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country right now: Marion Wine Bar, Melbourne.
Sea urchin sits on a squid-ink cracker with finger lime and tiny discs of pickled cucumber. Ribbons of ox tongue and mortadella are sprinkled with shaved horseradish and a handful of purple chive flowers. Mussels, out of their shells, are hidden under a dark red pile of fiery 'nduja "crumbs". Andrew McConnell's latest venture, a wine bar called Marion, nails the bar-food brief confidently and emphatically.
Head chef Allan Eccles produces the kind of sharp, interesting and clean-flavoured dishes - a casarecce with zucchini flowers, grilled rock flathead, a porterhouse (from McConnell's new butcher shop, Meatsmith), house-smoked duck leg - that seem bound to make Marion an instant landmark.
The feel of the room is sophisticated but relaxed, blending concrete floors and whitewashed bricks from the building's light-industrial past with luxurious detailing - copper, marble, a very comfortable leather banquette - and a backdrop of floor-to-ceiling black metal wine racks.
Marion has its own 14-page wine list of buff-friendly labels that run the gamut from classic small-producer Chablis to funky, crunchy orange wines, but also has access to the cellar at next-door neighbour Cutler & Co. The length of the full list can be a little daunting, but with the calm Andrew Joy (formerly of Cumulus Up) directing the service charge, it all becomes very easy very quickly.