Paul Jones brought some useful things with him when he set up Bibo Wine Bar in an old leather-goods shop in Bay Street Double Bay. Although he didn’t have the operational skills to run a wine bar, he did know how to build and fit one out. As well as being an architect, Paul has…
Some years back, Christian McCabe left behind successful restaurantMatterhorn, in Wellington, to try his luck across the Tasman. That first venture was the celebrated, though now closed, Town Mouse in DrummondStreet, Carlton. Along with Town Mouse chef and co-owner Dave Verheul (a Matterhorn alumnus), McCabe branched out further, and more boldly, in 2016.
Eric Narioo, founder of legendary natural wine purveyorLes Caves de Pyrene (as well as restaurants, Soif, Terroirs and Brawn), joined McCabe and Verheul as a business partner, and what was the Pizza Napoli site onMelbourne’s Russel Street for decades was turned into a temple of natural wine and fire-fuelled cooking. TheTown Mouse more than dipped its toe into the waters of minimal-intervention wines, with orange-hued glassfuls a typical site in the retro-inspired bolthole, but Embla has gone for full-body immersion, though without the semi-religious fervour that can sometimes accompany it.
Indeed, McCabe and his team–there is now no dedicated sommelier, but rather a team of wine-focused individuals with differing views that they’re happy to share–aren’t interested in dogma, or notions of right or wrong, they just happen to like wines of character that speak to them of place.So, no fiddling in the winery, just unadulterated juice brought to bottle as simply as possible is the mantra. The list stretches to a couple of hundred, but you can more than double that when you include the list from Lesa–their restaurant a floor up–with 18–20 by the glass, which change frequently, some daily.
McCabe describes the food as simple, seasonal and produce driven, with strong relationships with local organic farmers that enable them to even get bespoke crops planted. From there, the produce, like the wine, is handled lightly, with it either served raw, or grilled over coals, or roasted in the wood-fired oven