Words and photography by: Brunch Addict
Wine bars haven’t taken off as much as one would have thought. As a concept, we could easily visualise a modern venue littered with stimulating decor to please the eye whilst sampling amazing wines over good food with friends or family. However, unlike cocktail bars and gastropubs, the connotation associated with wine bars has always been that it’s a venue for wanky wine buffs who sit around swirling wine whilst comparing flavour notes in their high brow tone. It’s a real shame considering that when wine and food matching is perfectly matched it’s hard to imagine they should ever be consumed separately. There is one wine bar that has decided to go down this path by removing the wankiness. With a focus on good wine and a strong kitchen, Bellota Wine Bar might just be the precedent for the new age of wine bars.
The name itself is obscure and yet perfectly suited to the goodies on offer – Bellota [pronounced bell-o-ta] means acorn in Spanish and is what the pigs in France are fed on in order to make the beautiful charcuterie that we enjoy called jamon. The name doesn’t stop there, with the term bellota also being linked to wine-making through the association of oak used during the process. Clever, no?
Owned by the three owners of the Prince Wine Store, Phillip Rich, Machael McNamara and Alex Wilcox, these guys have a known presence within Australia’s imported wine industry with over 20 years of experience in the game, importing wines from different part of Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the Americas. The modern European influence of Bellota stems from their travels and time abroad.
Bellota is situated on two levels, with a big focus on setting the right ambiance. It took around six months to build the venue with the first level a the dining area for walk-ins and bookings. The decor has a big emphasis on coziness and intimate conversation. There is seating at the wine bar where the aged cheese and home-made salami hangs. The seating arrangement isn’t cluttered, allowing for free flowing movement and enough space for personal conversations.
Upstairs, there are two function rooms. The larger function room can seat up to 40 and cocktail events of up to 60 people. The other, smaller room, is business meeting focused and includes a projector and sound system set up for presentations or previewing visual media content. Adjoining Bellota Wine Bar is the Prince Wine Store, where guests of Bellota are encouraged to select a wine from the beautiful 3,500 plus wine selection next door and enjoy it in the beautiful surrounds of the restaurant.
As our food blogging cohorts arrived, we got ourselves settled in with one hand holding our phones ready to tweet. It was time to get down to business. The restaurant manager Slyvan and the kitchen team devised a menu showcasing the offerings at Bellota Wine Bar and we were quite excited and couldn’t wait for the courses to make their way to our table.
The menu had comprised of the following:
- Oysters – Sydney Rock oysters by Moonlight Flat in Batesman Bay, NSW and Pacific oysters by Pristine Oyster Farm in Coffin Bay, SA
- Shared Platters – Charcuterie: Chianrina Toscana, Berishire Ossocollo & Feline, Saucisson de Morteaux Jamon Iberico de Bellota Pura, Culateelo di Parma Prosciutto Parma. Olives, grilled bread & goat curd, Potted smoked eel with pickled beetroot, Ham & cheese croquettes
- Entree – Spaghetti with fresh tuna, eggplant, capers, tomato & olives
- Mains – Confit Duck, red cabbage, pomme boulangere or Gippsland scotch fillet with herb butter, pommes frites salad
- Dessert – Yoghurt pannacotta, grape, hazelnut & honey syrup, walnut tart
Oysters – Sydney Rock oysters by Moonlight Flat in Batesman Bay, NSW and Pacific oysters by Pristine Oyster Farm in Coffin Bay, SA
“Prior to this occasion, I always considered oysters to have roughly the same taste. Eating an oyster for me is like getting dunked by a wave and forced to swallow sea water – delivering a true sea salt flavour. It truly is bringing the sea to the table. I loved and appreciated the stark difference between the two types provided. I found the moonlight oysters initially a little watery. However, once the water dissipated there was a subtle yet lovely creamy texture. The Pacific oysters were smaller in size and had a defining sea salt taste. They were lighter in comparison to the moonlight but more pedestrian in terms of taste. Topped with a sauteed onion garnish, these oyster were divine.
The oysters were served with two white wine – Michael Hall Chardonnay and a Roero Arneis. For me to appreciate a white wine it needs to be bold and full of flavour. This lead me to lean towards the chardonnay, which had a lovely fruity but clean flavour, while the arneis tasted very flat and was hard to really enjoy.”
“We started off with two beautiful white wines – a Michael Hall Chardonnay and an Roero Arneis, served with Moonlight Bay Oysters and Pacific Oysters. The arneis was was fizzy with oak-like tones, whereas the chardonnay was much more tangy in flavour.
It’s incredible to see how different oysters can taste when you try them side by side! Contrary to Mr LB, my experience of the oysters were the exact opposite… I found the moonlight oysters very salty and they just made me reminisce of the seaside, whilst I found the pacific oysters to be light and refreshing – I could have half a dozen of these easily!”
Shared Platters – Charcuterie: Chianrina Toscana, Berishire Ossocollo & Feline, Saucisson de Morteaux Jamon Iberico de Bellota Pura, Culateelo di Parma Prosciutto Parma. Olives, grilled bread & goat curd, Potted smoked eel with pickled beetroot, Ham & cheese croquettes
Mr LB :
“As we moved to the reds, we were given the shared platters. As a form of first world problems, it was a case of where first to begin. All the dried meats were prepared in-house by Bellota Wine Bar and the flavours didn’t lie. The salami had a lovely meaty and smoky texture, whereas the prosciutto was soft and slightly salty on the palate. There wasn’t a cracker in sight, but accompanying nuts were provided. I have always been a cracker man but to experience eating dried meats with nuts has since converted me. The combination of the age meat with the nutty flavours elevated the experience and truly brought the flavours together. The smoked eel with beetroot and ham & cheese croquettes were also impressive with its execution and flavour.”
“I love charcuterie. With the platters coming out I immediately wished my girlfriends Toy and Elly were with me to sip wine, graze, and laugh about life. The highlights for me were the ham and cheese croquettes which were perfectly crumbed, with a crisp exterior and soft, cheesy, creamy centre. I also loved the prosciutto which was perfectly made; soft, easy to chew and perfectly salted.”
Entree – Spaghetti with fresh tuna, eggplant, capers, tomato & olives
“To have spaghetti as a entree is unexpected given its heaviness. I would have envisioned this dish to be more of a main. Putting aside menu order, I really enjoyed the simplicity that spaghetti is all about and Bellota had certainly achieved this standard. The combinations of the naturally subtle flavours of fresh tuna and eggplant was just divined as it was well-matched with the lovely thick tomato sauce. The capers and olives lifted the flavours, however the matched red wine (cab sav.) was the star as it played an active part in the spaghetti sauce.”
“I found this dish a little too simplistic for my preferences. The pasta was beautifully made and the ingredients were tasty but there wasn’t anything that really screamed ‘amazing’ to me. It was the right size as an entree but I would have preferred a ravioli-style pasta as a starter.”
Mains – Confit Duck, red cabbage, pomme boulangere, Gippsland scotch fillet with herb butter, pommes frites salad
“Duck is one of my favourite poultry ingredients and so when I was served with it for mains, I had no objections. The confit duck was prepared perfectly and was crispy on the surface with a subtle moist texture inside. The red cabbage acted perfectly as a side, bringing additional flavour to the duck but not overpowering. The pomme boulangere gave the dish a creamer texture which work well with the duck. This was by far my favourite dish for the night.”
“I was lucky enough to get the Gippsland scotch fillet steak – yum! It was gorgeously cooked to a perfect medium, revealing tender pink meat that wasn’t bloody. The quality of the meat was superb, easy to chew and cut. It was accompanied with some beautiful horseradish paste which had a lovely wasabi-like sting to it.”
Dessert – Yogurt pannacotta, grape, hazelnut & honey syrup, walnut tart
“I was a little sad to end with the yogurt panncotta. It didn’t strike me as a send off dish to conclude the night. Whilst the flavours were well-prepared with a great hit of vanilla-mixed with citrus flavour, it was simply too subtle as a desert. It didn’t have that spark of amazing flavours that I experienced with the other dished I had tasted.”
“I had a beautiful walnut tart for dessert, accompanied with vanilla bean marscapone. The nuts were baked and wonderfully aromatic atop on a bed of sugar crumble. The base was light and flakey – easy to eat and well executed.”
Our experience of Bellota was a lovely one. We both found the venue charming and intimate, with beautiful food and wine to make any evening special. The in-house made chacuterie really struck us as a stand-out feature and makes for a perfect venue for a first date or catch-up with the girls. A must-visit if you’re in the mood to graze or out to impress.
Tues – Fri: 11am – 10pm
Sat: 11am – 11pm
Sunday & Monday: Closed