Tucked into a driveway just off Mort Street is a delightful little wine bar. With exposed brick, moody lighting and intimate booths, it’s the perfect place for a tête-à-tête.
Paolo Sossi is one of the co-directors of Fixate Group, which owns Wine Room along with sister venues Blackbird bar in the city and Gather cafe, which sits directly in front of Wine Room. Paolo said that the group had been working towards opening the bar for a few years and wanted it to be a space where people could connect over a glass of wine.
“It’s actually encouraging people to learn more about food and wine and enjoy time with friends,” he told Region.
“The idea is to have people around for some food and to be able to try some wine but they might not want to purchase a whole bottle, so they start tasting and learning more about different wines to what they would usually buy.”
There are plenty of different wines available by the glass, and Paolo says that both the food and wine menus will keep changing, so people can always find something different to try.
“We’ll change two or three different dishes each month and just keep it all rotating. And the same with the wine. We’ll sell the bottles we have and then say, ‘Okay, it’s time for something new’.”
Paolo explains that their wine list has no rules, and everything has been chosen based on what the staff like to drink rather than focusing on a particular style or region of wine. This means that there are wines from all over Australia and the world represented on the list. Paolo has contributed some wines from his home in Italy that he wanted more Canberrans to taste.
The food menu is divided by size and all plates are designed to share. There’s a solid list of cheese and charcuterie for those looking for something to graze on before or after dinner, and the bowl of marinated olives is surprisingly generous!
For something small, try the oysters from Batemans Bay served with a yuzu granita. A twist on classic tartare comes with prawn crackers, nori sheets and betel leaves to scoop up the beef which is infused with Balinese flavours.
The grilled octopus and nduja salami is presented with yellow pepper puree and a generous smear of black garlic, which looks beautiful on arrival, but is a bit of a mess when it’s all mixed up. Fortunately, it’s a delicious mess with charred, smokey flavours mixing with the sweetness of the pepper and deep umami from the black garlic. A squeeze of lemon finishes the dish nicely, and it’s a good idea to order the Three Mills Bakery dinner rolls to mop up the leftover sauce.
The current iteration of the menu is heavy on summery seafood dishes, but there are vegetarian options across the menu as well. The burrata and pumpkin are tasty, with crunchy pine nuts and burnt butter sage, although the accompanying crisp bread was slightly over-salted.
A larger dish for vegetarians is sweet and sour eggplant. Chunky pieces of battered and deep-fried eggplant are served with a jammy chilli sauce and topped with big handfuls of fresh herbs. The charred cabbage side dish comes highly recommended from neighbouring tables (something to consider for next time).
The space at Wine Room can be opened via a large hinged window with a steam-punk-esque counterweight, allowing for an al fresco vibe on warmer evenings. A few outdoor seats with low tables are perfect for a quick glass of wine after work, while people settling down for a full meal might prefer the indoor tables and booths, which will be very cosy during winter months. There’s also a private dining room out the back which can seat up to 12 people.
Wine Room is located at 24 Mort Street, Braddon, behind cafe Gather. It’s open from 4:30 to 11:30 pm Tuesday to Thursday, and from 4:30 pm until late on Friday and Saturday. Follow Wine Room on Instagram or Facebook.