A talented trio is taking the wine bar back to its roots.
Travis Howe, Andrew Joy and John Paul Twomey have taken over Carlton Wine Room and will reopen it in March after giving the space a revamp.
Twomey and Joy are Andrew McConnell alumni, the former working as development chef across McConnell's restaurants before taking the top job at South Yarra's Gilson last year, while Joy was most recently manager at Marion, where he won GT's Maître d' of the Year award in 2016. Howe, the venue's sommelier, comes to Carlton via CBD heavyweights Coda and Tonka.
"We want to create a relaxed and welcoming neighbourhood bar," Twomey says. "We've got a lot of experience front-of-house and hopefully that means a fun environment - nothing too stuffy."
The rebooted venue will put drinks in the spotlight - Twomey will design food to complement the wine, not vice versa. The menu moves from snacks to larger plates (plus dessert) and can be approached from all angles, whether that's a couple of small plates at a table on the pavement or making a night of it in the 45-seat dining room. Twomey is still finalising the details, but you might expect stracciatella, zucchini flowers and potato focaccia, and perhaps rum baba for dessert.
The interiors come courtesy of Samantha Eades - responsible for Chin Chin Melbourne and restaurants in New York and Hong Kong - and will remain light and airy in the dining room, with two private function spaces upstairs and the cellar bar downstairs.
Carlton Wine Room, 172-174 Faraday St, Carlton, Vic, (03) 9347 2626, thecarltonwineroom.com.au; Wed-Thu 4pm-11pm, Fri-Mon noon-11pm.