Published on 9 July 2021
Deluxe hotdogs. Shiitake sundaes. Extremely fancy Champagne. The promise at Auterra 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, McIver cut his teeth with some of the world’s most celebrated chefs. After honing his skills as a sous at Vue de Monde, he opened his first solo restaurant, Amaru, in 2016. Its success has inspired the launch of a sister venue – Auterra Wine Bar. A few doors down from Amaru, it's a neighbourhood wine and snack bar with a focus on grower Champagnes, boutique Victorian producers, and lesser-known international varieties and vignerons. Here's McIver's pick of the menu and the cellar.
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 isn’t 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 Auterra?
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 rye with anchovy and green olive. Honourable mention goes to our hotdog, which will change regularly – think boudin blanc with Japanese pickles.
What if I’m here for a good time, not a long time?
Come in and pull up a seat at our bar, a perfect spot to grab a serving of the barbecued octopus with bush tomatoes and kosho. It's also a fantastic place to work your way through a couple of staff recommendations on the glass of wine best suited to you. 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 with a charred cucumber dressing or the scallops with desert lime and yuzu.
I like tasty food but I don’t eat animals.
In that case it’s hard to go past our organic radishes served with an alpine walnut purée and finger limes – this is simply begging for a glass of Champagne Fleury 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 be dining on a bespoke menu which is tailored to work alongside 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. It is a totally private space for you to sit back and indulge – you won’t want to leave.
And to close?
We’re opening with a version of our shiitake sundae from Amaru. This will become more of a seasonal staple. But personally, I can't really think of a better way to wind things up then with a handmade éclair pastry with pear and caraway chutney and Comté; that would of course need to be chased with nip of the Roulot L’Abricot Liqeur – a perfect pairing.
Auterra Wine Bar, 1160 High St, Armadale, auterrawinebar.com.au
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