You arrive at a fork in the road. One sign reads “wine bar”. The other reads “wine bar and audiophile listening space”. Option two promises a bespoke sound system and room acoustic treatment, option one a fraying aux cord.
Option two is David Byrne, Jimmy Pham and Marek Polgar’s Waxflower, and if you’re not halfway down that track already, a glance at its exciting program of minimal intervention wines ought to put you on the good path. That, and head chef Damon McIvor’s locally sourced, southern European-inspired share plates: kangaroo skewers with macadamia and native spice from the land, garfish over Goolwa pipis with smoked bone sauce from the sea.
It’s no secret that the team has a hit on his hands with Waxflower. Here, Byrne drops the needle on how to enjoy it in full fidelity.
How about a drink?
Among our ever-changing 10-plus wines by the glass, we’re opening up a bunch of ‘Poolside’ syrah magnums from South Australia’s Tom Shobbrook. These are real crowd pleasers, and they’re our most popular wine poured to date. In the absence of a pool, we recommend enjoying it chilled from our new outdoor seating.
I’m here for a good time, not a long time.
Dadinho de tapioca, our take on the crunchy, chewy Brazilian cheese cubes, are tantalisingly delicious, and have been a surprise hit. If eating is cheating, then just order Yuzu Chuchai cocktails for as long as you please.
Got anything light and fresh?
There’s a new confit heirloom tomato, raw sea bream and ume kombucha dish that pairs beautifully with an aromatic Victorian skin-contact riesling from Hochkirch in Henty.
I like tasty food but I don’t eat animals.
We have a large contingent of locals who are vegetarian and vegan so the menu always has options to avoid meat. A combination of smaller plates with our woodfired and pickled zucchini, mole verde, almonds, confit green almonds and almond feta will keep everyone happy.
Name the dish that is quintessentially Waxflower right now.
It was never intended to be such a focal dish at Waxflower, however, all tentacles point to the octopus. We’ve done at least 20 variations since we opened – so many that our branding occasionally includes an octopus character. The latest addition will be octopus ’nduja on fried bread with buttermilk and shallots.
Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
Born out of our lockdown pop-up experimentation (which we have done a lot of) we’ve decided to put the popular woodfired piri piri chicken with sauce on the menu: a big tasty cliche. Pair with a bottle of Luis Seabra’s Xisto Ilimitado Branco: zesty citrus, stone minerality and punchy acidity from the Portuguese grape varietal rabigato. If you want to go all out, a set menu is always possible for those looking to feast. Obscure, off-piste bottles await those who dare to trek beyond the menu.
And to close?
To top it all off, there’s a dreamy chocolate nemesis cake with smoked peach and milk ice-cream from our mates at Kenny Lover. Take it up a level with a glass of the Bacalhôa 10 Anos Moscatel de Setúbal Superior (another winning Portuguese wine that isn’t port) or a Sullivans Cove XO Single Cask Brandy if you prefer to keep local.