Boutique wine bar Honour Ave Cellars opens in Graceville
The verdant vineyards of France, Italy and Spain are heralded for good reason. We’ll never be ones to knock a heady Bordeaux or a Tuscan chianti, but these titans of viticulture cast a long shadow, one that often masks the product emerging from some of the world’s lesser-known wine regions. Graceville’s newest boutique wine bar and wine shop Honour Ave Cellars is looking to change that. The intimate plonk parlour is going to bat for some of the world’s best unheralded wine hot spots, serving hard-to-find labels from Hungary, Chile, South Africa and even drops from our own backyard. Pair that with some similarly obscure nibbles and you’ve got yourself one of Brisbane’s most singular drinking destinations. It officially opens today – here’s what you should know …
Very few of us are fortunate enough to have a private wine cellar in our house, let alone enough dosh to fill it. Thankfully for us all, Graceville’s newest eight-seater wine bar Honour Ave Cellars is a very close substitute. The cosy drinkery and bottle shop is the brainchild of chef and budding sommelier Chris Siktars – a Brisbane local who is stepping away from his heralded fine-dining pop-up concept Black Ox in order to raise the profile of worldly wines in Brisbane. Inspired by his travels through eastern Europe – particularly through Hungary, his family’s homeland – where unmarked hole-in-the-wall bars are commonplace, Chris became enamoured with the idea of a no-strings-attached watering hole that broke down the barrier between bartender and customer. The ideal location for the idea presented itself on Graceville’s buzzing strip Honour Avenue – a long rectangular space that in previous lives was once a dog groomer and a dry cleaner, before that. Gone are any traces of those former identities – what remains is a chicly snug bar reminiscent of a winery tasting room. Matte-black shelves line both sides of the midnight-blue venue, which is divided down the middle by a lengthy European mahogany table. The table is where guests will congregate – at the moment it is unmarked by wine stains or dints, but Chris is eager to let the table build character naturally, accumulating markings gradually and cataloging the history of the venue. At the far end is a small bar, which shields a couple of wine fridges and a food prep space. While the table acts as the informal gathering point, Chris will happily chat away with customers over the counter while slicing cured meats or pouring a fresh glass of vino.
Speaking of wine, Chris has done a good amount of homework (and legwork) sourcing the impressive selection for Honour Ave Cellars’ shelves. The 28-sqm space houses more than 2500 bottles encompassing roughly 150 labels. The only guiding principle Chris is adhering to is showcasing obscure and under-appreciated single varietals from unheralded growing regions – many unheard of in the southern hemisphere. The range boasts old- and new-world wines, low-intervention drops, rare vintages and familiar classics, but a quick peek at the selection will reveal just how wide a net Chris has cast. Hungarian, Austrian and Georgian wines share shelf space with drops from the Sonoma Valley in the United States, South Africa, Chilean cabernets and even a wine sourced from the volcanic foothills of Mt. Etna. Many of these wines, once sold, will never be seen again. That being said, Chris is always on the hunt for notable and unique wines to replace final vintages – expect more rare drops to fill the shelves as time goes on. Roughly 95 percent of Honour Ave Cellars’ range can be sampled by the glass (Chris isn’t scared of opening a fresh bottle if asked – wine is for drinking, after all!) or in 357-ml half-bottle pours, allowing guests to sample more than one wine instead of committing to a single bottle. If you find a bottle you like, take it home! Everything on the shelf can be purchased retail. Much like the wine selection, Chris is taking inspiration from eastern Europe for the food offering. Honour Ave Cellar’s food menu encompasses a range of light bites, divided into bar snacks (house baked sourdough with butter, aged beef tartare with toasted brioche and wild-fish ceviche with fennel pollen buttermilk), salumi (smoked and cured Hungarian csabi, German-style mortadella, cured and roasted pork belly kieserfleish stuffed with black pepper and jamon Iberico de Bellota) and cheese (cave-aged goats milk cheddar from Dorset, Bleu d’Auvergne from France and Dellendale raclette from Western Australia).
Honour Ave Cellars officially opens today, Wednesday September 30. For trading hours and contact details, check out the Stumble Guide!
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