My beloved City Wine Shop. Been many a time since I moved to Melbourne allll those years ago, ok it was 3 years…. and it was really how I came to fall in love with this city.
The ambience, the décor, the crazy wine wall and of course the food… gah everything about CWS makes you want to come back. Unfortunately there were a couple of snags this time around (issue-snags not the snags of the sausage variety) but I’ll forgive those (maybe) and head back soon…ish.
On last Friday’s unexpected balmy evening, there was really no other place I would pick for a nice glass of vino and a side plate or 7. So when looking for a dinner spot pre Hughesy Comedy fest time, I chose this quaint lil’ eatery on Spring St.
Arty photo of the wall….that’s a nice wall.
Being a lovely night, Melbournians were clinging to the end of summer so the place was packed. Which unfortunately meant sitting inside at the bar or waiting an hour or so. To the bar I went and enjoy a loveeeellly glass of La Spinetta whilst waiting for AT. If you do venture to CWS soon, please try that wine. Oh it’s like a party in your mouth, but a sophisticated, black tie party, not a rowdy Facebook all-invited kinda shindig. Delicious.
Almonds and olives were a perfect accompaniment. I ordered them to share with AT when he arrived, but unfortunately he was served up a bowl of olive pips when we got there. Tried to pass them off as nuts but that didn’t go far.
This was the evidence used to prove there WERE almonds (see, bottom right!)….but I demolished them rather quickly…
Being up at the bar, you get the atmosphere at a rather overwhelming level which was, admittedly, a slight deterrent. We were seated right next to the cash register so people were in my ‘zone’ when paying which was bearable, until one larger lady decided that my lap was a seat and proceeded to almost sit on me. That wasn’t well received….
I was going to ask if it was possible to move however I overheard the staff complaining to eachother when another pair had requested a move so decided against it. Not a good look.
When AT arrived, we ordered a couple more bevvies (another vino from the gods for me and Vale Lager for him…followed by a vino of the gods for him) and ordered some food.
Delicious La Spinetta
The service was prompt but not exactly friendly. Even though we were seated right in front of 3-4 staff, they did seem slightly more interested in each other and cleaning glasses than serving patrons which was a tad off putting.
Now. The first time I visited this lovely establishment was with my foodie bestie JT and he raved about the Tuna Nicoise and he was oh so right. Unfortunately it was taken off the menu for a while there which was extremely disappointing!
I was (slightly too) happy to see it back on the menu once more and ordered it right away. After a massive Friday lunch AT wasn’t too keen on a big meal, but a small meal for him just equates to a slightly larger than average meal for normal folk. He went with the Blue Cod Special with Chorizo, potatoes and olive tapenade.
Was super tempted to order some Polenta chips as well (because they’re delectable) but didn’t want to be too full to devour the Nicoise.
After I finished discussing my super exciting working day with AT, the food arrived accompanied with the waitresses comment “Ohhh I thought this was yours but thought blue cod was steak, so I didn’t think it was yours…”….ok not the best communication with patrons, but hey she might be new …. to food…and life. Then I pictured a cow swimming in the ocean. My brain does weird things when I’m hungry.
Both the dishes looked scrumptious. I have eaten many a time at CWS and their presentation is always brilliant. Even the polenta chips are always stacked in a neat manner and yet still remain so crispy. Ah I want some now. Salivating. Anyhoo, back to our food!
THE Tuna Nicoise
The ‘deconstructed’ nicoise has to be one of my fave go-to meals in Melbourne however this one probably was sitting at about 75% compared to previous plates I’d had. As it’s just lightly grilled, the tuna needs to be a good cut and it was either not the best piece or the large fillet was sliced incorrectly. So the fish wasn’t as good as I was expecting.
Also, probably way too many green and butter beans in relation to the rest of the food. Eggs were perfectly soft boiled though and when combined, the flavours are fantastic. The potatoes served with this nicoise are epic. SO crispy and then SO fluffy inside. Probably fried several times, but hey, whooo cares.
AT really enjoyed his blue eye (not steak…fish) and the skin looked nice and crispy. Reminds me of bacon. Mmm bacon.
The Blue Eye Cod with Chorizo – Special for ze evening
He seemed to be knocked off his seat by something spicy but we couldn’t find the source…so, CWS please take care in your chili ratios! Or maybe there was a stray spicy pepper in there. There was nada about chili in the title of the dish so was quite a surprise for him, ‘specially when he’s not the biggest fan of chillllllli.
Overall another great experience with a couple of flaws. I’d still go back. I’d still have the nicoise but I’d just hope for a better cut of tuna next time. Also couldn’t fit it at the time, but I HIGHLY recommend the lemon tart. Gah I’m salivating again.
Get up there if you haven’t. After a splurge in Prada it’d be the best way to finish a day. If you can afford to eat after purchasing a ridic handbag….
Have a vino outside and then enjoy the big communal table up the back for more vinos and a meal.
This experience – 7.5/10….usually a 9