Up a flight of stairs above long-term wood-fired pizza player Woodstock in Fitzroy North, Neighbourhood Wine occupies a site of both individual charm and somewhat dubious history. Before brothers Simon and Matt Denman, and chef Almay Jordaan took possession of the first-floor title that stretches over two shopfronts, it had remained idle for a quarter…
Bar Liberty is a canvas for the talents of Michael Bascetta, Casey Wall and Manu Potoi. Although the team boasts resumes with some formidable high-end entries, both here and abroad, as well as some enviable accolades, Bar Liberty was never going to be a linear progression. In fact, it is more of a disruptor, a chance to throw out the formality, the rules, and have at it with instinct and raw talent.
The suits, ties and all the formality have long been left on the hanger, with the tone of Bar Liberty very much more casual, focusing on warm hospitality and an offering, both food and wine, that reflects the personal preferences of the owners. The constantly evolving wine list is more or less evenly split between domestic and imported and can be broadly categorised as focusing on minimal-intervention wines. But the liquid offer goes well beyond wine, with thoughtful digressions into all that ferments and can be distilled.
Wall hails from North Carolina, and prior to opening Rockwell and Sons – a Southern barbecue and fried chicken experience seen through a more sophisticated lens – was cooking at Cutler & Co. These influences are all seen on the plate, as well as his time at Lupo in New York, which informed his revered version of cacio e peppe, a Bar Liberty standard. That very of-the-moment and deceptively simple pasta dish sits unapologetically next to XO pipis with fried Chinese doughnuts. And why not, we say. At Bar Liberty, all this is possible and more.