What to order at Appellation Wine Bar

Published on 13 April 2021

Photo: Appellation's Japanese katsu curry hot dog (credit: John O Rourke & Reuben Gates)

The inside word on the menu at Appellation Wine Bar from Clinton McIver.

Deluxe hotdogs. Shiitake sundaes. Extremely fancy Champagne. The promise at Appellation is a wine bar that goes well off the beaten track, and Clinton McIver and the team from Amaru are making it happen. Before setting his sights on High Street, Armadale, McIver cut his teeth with some of the world’s most celebrated chefs. After honing his skills as sous chef at Vue de Monde, McIver opened his first solo restaurant, Amaru, in 2016. Its success has inspired the launch of a sister venue – Appellation Wine Bar. Opening a few doors down from Amaru in early May this year, Appellation will be a neighbourhood wine and snack bar with a focus on small grower Champagnes, boutique Victorian producers, and lesser-known international varieties and vignerons.

How about a drink?
If there's one thing that we at least want you to try, it's got to be one of the grower Champagnes that make up our list. ''Grower Champagne'' means the grapes are farmed by the people who make the wine, which might sound obvious but this isnt always the case. Many of the big producers in the region buy grapes from large farms. With grower Champagne you're getting the truest sense of the terroir as seen by the winemaker, Champagne with a real point of view. We will always have something special and hard to find by the glass – what about a glass of George Laval Cumières Brut Nature?

Which of the dishes on the menu best captures the vibe at Appellation?
Everything on our menu is designed to be no-fuss, eat-with-your-fingers food. Start with a serving of our buckwheat pastries topped with different cuts of Great Ocean duck, followed by the smoked kangaroo tartare on toast with anchovy and green olive. Honourable mention to our hotdog dish, which will change regularly – think Japanese curry hotdog.

What if I’m here for a good time, not a long time?
Come in and pull up a seat at our small central bar, a perfect spot to grab a few skewers of grilled octopus and duck tongue glazed with a desert-lime koshu. It's also a fantastic place to work your way through a couple of staff recommendations on what to match with your wine. You could be in and out half an hour or an hour and leave fed and happy.

Got anything light and fresh?
You can really order as little or as much as you like, so it's easy to keep things light. Start with some freshly shucked oysters dressed with a barbecued finger lime and lemongrass ponzu.

I like tasty food but I don’t eat animals.
In that case it’s hard to go past our barbecued lion’s mane and yellow oyster mushrooms. Hot, smoky, earthy and dressed with a lacto-fermented pearl barley shoyu – this is simply begging for a glass of Tissot Crémant du Jura Blanc de Noirs.

Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
Grab 11 friends and come upstairs to our private dining room. This is the crown jewel in our little venue. Here you will basically be served the whole menu in small sequences and we’ll create a customised beverage selection based on what you like to drink and where you want to drink from. We might kick things off with a bottle of David Leclapart L’Apôtre if you’re in the mood. The room is fitted out with a large custom walnut table that seats 12; think handwoven Egyptian rugs and custom leather seats along with your own waiter/sommelier on hand. You won’t want to leave.

And to close?
We’re going to be opening with a version of our shiitake sundae from Amaru. From here this will become more of a seasonal staple to the menu. I can't really think of a better way to wind things up then with a handmade escargot pastry with spiced carrot chutney and artisanal cheese; that would of course need to be washed down with a Arquiteka cider from the Yarra Valley – a perfect pairing.

Appellation Wine Bar opens early May, 1160 High St, Armadale, appellationwinebar.com.au 

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