Hobart’s Institut Polaire is housed in a distinctly cosy space, with the proportions dictated by one of Hobart’s classic historic building, which abuts the Customs House Hotel. And while the hotel spills over multiple classified buildings, Institut Polaire occupies the ground floor of just one, with 30 guests squeezing the interior to capacity. But although…
From his original base at Toorak Cellars, Lyndon Kubis, along with business partners Renton Carlyle and Mark Hopkinson, have expanded into territory less well serviced, including Milton in Malvern and the notoriously dry zone of Surrey Hills (not to be confused with Sydney’s Surry hills, which is afforded much better amenity) in Melbourne’s east, with the Hills. The model has been built around the Italo-transplant enoteca mould pioneered here by the likes of the City Wine Shop and Gertrude Street Enoteca.
The Alps, in Commercial Road Prahran, is in the same mould, with ostensibly a wine retail space made much more comfortable with a sympathetically refined interior, as well as the availability of classic wine bar snacks – charcuterie, pickles, salumi, gravlax and the like. The high-altitude nomenclature is picked up throughout the wine offer, with a lean towards the regions flanked by the Alps – Savoie, Jura, Burgundy, Piedmont, the Veneto. The occasional pair of skis or stocks, and a snow-themed print or two keep the Alpine theme running, as does the private ‘cabin’, and the scent of pine trees in the rear courtyard.
Overall, while the vibe is very much built around Tintin in Tibet, the brief is far from restrictive across the wine and food offer. The Alps is very much what we’ve come to expect from Kubis and co, as is the super-informed and ultra-relaxed service. The wine selection, either take away or in-house with modest corkage, runs to 400 bins with 20 by the glass, and while typically taking roads less travelled, it is a more than inclusive selection.