PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
The old George Hotel is known for its immense – and immensely popular – bar on Fitzroy Street, but take a look behind and discover the Melbourne Wine Room, a cosy high-ceilinged space which is dominated by two huge, modern chandeliers. Other than these fancy flourishes, this venue is deceptively simple. The tables are set with white cloths and there are banquettes along the walls with bentwood chairs creating what can only be called low-key St Kilda chic.
The printed menu is small, with additional daily specials and the option of a tasting menu, but all provide cuisine that is a hybrid of modern Australian and modern Italian. In season, there will be a wide range of oysters from different regions and breeds (Sydney Rock, Tasmanian Pacific, angasi), served, like many of the dishes, on stands so they can be shared. Meat dishes are particularly good here, and the signature dish is a bistecca made in the Florentine style which sees a huge T-bone steak that has been salt-crusted and char-grilled. Duck is well handled, too; try the twice-cooked duck with Tuscan black cabbage. The wine list, as you'd expect from the name, is vast with a wide Australian and international selection featuring some notable and boutique drops. The Melbourne Wine Room is open late on Friday and Saturday nights to cater for those eager to prolong the weekend.