Cru Bar & Cellar is woven into the fabric of Brisbane, with the pioneering venue never seeming to show its age, even after over a decade and a half. Wrapped around a central onyx bar, tables skirt the perimeter of the building, with patrons even seated on the sills of the retractable windows, almost spilling into James Street, making the most of the balmy Brisbane climate.
When Cru Bar opened, it wrapped the wine store and wine bar ideas together in its own individual way, going somewhat bigger and more boldly than other pioneers into this territory. Indeed, this is no street-corner enoteca, but rather a wine store of vast liquid resources, a fully equipped cocktail/wine bar and a restaurant that can seat 80 diners. There’s also a covered al fresco area at the entrance, and a more classic private dining option amongst the cellar’s bottle-stacked shelves.
Thanks to the magic of Coravin, Cru Bar offer around 110 wines by the glass or taste. Perhaps a 1969 Marc Brédif Vouvray, a 2009 Bouchard Corton-Charlemagne or a 2005 Rockford ‘Rifle Range’ Cabernet Sauvignon? Or maybe names like Tempier, Chidaine, Vietti, Hudelot-Noëllatmight stir your interest. There’s an extraordinary choice across the new and old world and across many regions, with vintage depth being a particular feature.
If you’re after a bottle of wine, the list runs to about 1200, with more resources in the cellar, too. The range takes in pretty much everything, appealing to those with more classical tastes, while also carrying plenty of pét nats, natural and orange wines, and a healthy selection from the Jura. If there’s any bias, it’s for Champagne, Burgundy and Barolo, which are more than understandable obsessions. Sherry, saké and whisk(e)y are also very well represented.
Ex-Stokehouse Brisbane chef Richard Ousby has recently taken the reins of the kitchen. He has an open brief, the only caveats being that the food is wine friendly, and that the produce is sustainably grown or reared and locally sourced, where possible. Charred brussels sprouts with pumpkin yoghurt, fried pork belly dumplings and Fraser Isle spanner crab spaghettini with chilli, lemon and pangrattato have quickly become customer favourites.