PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
Sitting on the first floor of The Madison Hotel, presided over by a chubby wooden hippo, Vine Bar and Bistro is a cosy and welcoming little restaurant. Aside from raw brick walls, comfy down-to-earth brown banquettes, armchairs and an overall loungy ambience, it also possesses lots of character. This mainly radiates from the kitchen which is run by the charismatic, theatrical and completely charming chef Danny (Dimitri) Koutalis and flanked by smiling, bubbly staff. Having travelled around Australia and worked everywhere from Darwin to Adelaide, Danny flavours the Vine kitchen not only with his intimate knowledge of various foods and cultural influences, but also with an understanding and undeniable passion for gastronomy itself.
The menu, although at first appearing to be European-influenced pub-grub –bruschetta, tapas, steak, burgers, wedges, nachos, pasta and so on – is far more than that. The meals come with a spin – bruschetta comes in a variety with prawns, haloumi is paired with a salad and a zesty balsamic dressing and similar twists are introduced into all of the other dishes. Not to mention just about everything is made in-house. Danny describes the food as "gourmet bistro" and hopes that it will make his diners' palates do the flamenco. To say he is successful would be an understatement; the tenderness of the lamb souvlaki will definitely have your taste buds reaching for their castanets and the aromatic chutney of the Cajun chicken – rich in exotic, sweet spices – will send your palate swirling. As with most great restaurants, the menu changes with the seasons; tropical fruit like papaya feature in the warmer months and comfort foods appear when the temperatures fall. Regardless of the season however, the same arresting passion is served up with a decent wine list and some very fabulous cocktails every day of the year.