An overnight success story seven years in the making, Carlton Wine Room – CWR to its friends – has gone from understudy to full-blown star thanks to the arrival of new owners, a trio of restaurant veterans finally joining forces. John Paul Twomey, a long-time Andrew McConnell lieutenant, is behind a menu that bears hallmarks of his time as Cutler & Co. head chef. There are dishes you can call “produce driven” without blushing, such as an opening salvo of potato focaccia with stracciatella, poached mussels with a herby salad and garlicky aioli or a half roast chicken that effortlessly reaches Melbourne’s vertiginous standards, with golden skin and a drinkable jus. The wine list mixes skin-contact and more traditional drops, with sage advice dispensed by wine maestros and co-owners Andrew Joy and Travis Howe. Little wonder it’s been crammed since day one of the new regime.
Open Thursday-Monday for lunch and Wednesday-Monday for dinner
Best for: Laid-back and reliably delicious food
Stand-out dish: Kingfish crudo, crème fraîche, pickled wombok, horseradish
Fab factor: The outstanding simplicity of decor and dishes
Address: 172-174 Faraday Street, Carlton
Phone number: (03) 9347 2626