The charming and charismatic Carlisle Wine Bar in Balaclava has recently undergone a subtle but also subtly stunning makeover, with the main masterpiece being the new menu. Manager Bernard Bungaleea is the go-to man for a spot on wine recommendation, and maybe a cheeky chat while you’re at it.
Carlisle Wine Bar are excellent at offering unique wines you wouldn’t usually find by the glass, but more importantly getting to know their clientele, and finding the right style for them. Another great skill Bungaleea and his staff have, is recommending the right wine to match whichever glorious menu item (or five) you plan on ordering.
Head Chef James Turno (Grossi Florentino) has put on a pretty snazzy spread. A list of tapas style starters are full of flavour, such as the Oxtail Croquettes with gremolata that’s beautifully reminiscent of intense parsley and not-too bitter preserved lemon. The Calamari with spicy pistachio crumb and mixed leaves is fresh and just what you want calamari to be—crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, salty and sweet, and completely not fishy (you all know how much it sucks to get fishy calamari. First world problems). Carlisle Wine Bar are also offering a selection of Charcuterie, and a thoughtfully chosen grill menu, from swordfish and jumbo prawns to a range of premium porterhouse and sexy scotch fillets.
But the real show stopper is the handmade pasta, particularly the Aylesbury duck and porcini del plin ravioli with masala, pear, sage, reggiano and duck sauce. The flavours just simply work in this dish. I’m not going to go on about the way the pasta is cooked to the perfect point of al dente, or how the duck is tender and matches exceptionally well with the rich porcini and acidic pear, or how the intense sauce brings it all together… or, well, I guess I am. But really, you have to try this dish for itself, even Bungaleea admits a soft spot for it. To finish, you have the tough decision of cheese or dessert. But if you’re anything like me, you laugh in the face of tough, and will simply have both. The Tarte Tatin is quite possibly a masterpiece, that seems large enough to share, and theoretically could be shared, but here’s a heads up, just order two, you won’t regret it.
The cheese platter comes complete with an appropriately aired soft and hard cheese selection, some tangy muscatels, fresh bread, apple and a house-made paste. Perfect for sipping away the hours in front of the roasting fireplace, with some truly wonderful company.
Rated out of 10
9 Experience: 10
Carlisle Wine Bar
137 Carlisle Street, Balaclava
(03) 9531 3222
Monday to Friday, 2pm – 1am
Saturday to Sunday, 11am – 1am
All images copyright © Megan Osborne, please do not use without permission.