• The Carlton Wine Room (Carlton)

When I asked M where she wanted to go for lunch, The Carlton Wine Room was her immediate response. On the corner of Drummond and Farady Streets, it seems this place is popular with Carlton locals, uni staff and anyone wanting a tasty meal from chef John Paul Twomey (previous head chef at Cutler & Co). Despite the prestigious team behind the kitchen, M tells me it is welcoming any time of the day, and that there is one dish she craves enough for her to have gone back four times, ordering the same thing.

Entering the well-lit down-stairs room, I immediately liked it. I was greeted by the friendly waiter and looked for M upstairs where several small tables enjoyed light-hearted conversations.

We sat at the high table by the kitchen, enjoying the sunshine through the window along side us.

It takes much self-restraint to go to a wine room and not order wine… such self-restraint that I do not possess. Being equally fussy with wine, I quizzed the waitress and she eventually brought me a taste of the Garagiste “Tuerong” Chardonnay from Mornington. It was exactly what I felt like.  It had the creaminess of oak but was balanced with a slight acid, and was not too fruity. Dry but not bitter. A very enjoyable and balanced wine. It was the perfect recommendation for an incredibly fussy drinker.

There are only a couple of vegetarian options.

M ordered her cauliflower with chickpeas. I ordered the ‘creste di gallo’, a house-made pasta with eggplant ragu and smoked ricotta.

The pasta was shaped like a rooster's crest and cooked al dente. Soft eggplant and tomato were slow cooked until brown, and the flavours combined.  I loved the smokiness of the cheese and eggplant. There was also wilted fresh basil inside and thin gratings of salted ricotta on top. The serving size was decent but I could have gobbled up more, it tastes that good.

The cauliflower with chickpeas is M’s favourite here – she is a creature of habit. This was lovely too with roasted cauliflower, crisp chickpeas, and a tangy sauce. M said the chickpeas were light and crunchy, perfectly combined with the spicy cauliflower and the tangy dressing to give it an interesting punch. It also had puffed rice for a defined texture. She liked the portion size, explaining that for someone who is trying to eat healthily, she can enjoy it without feeling guilty about eating fried food. This dish makes The Carlton Wine Room one of the few places where she will eat exclusively vegetarian, "because this dish is so fantastic", she explains.

To accompany our meals, were counrty-style rolls. They were chewy with a thin crusts and served with cultured butter – all very fancy.

To finish we shared chocolate truffles. These were rectangles of dark rich ganache. M hoped for them to be sweeter, but I liked that they were not overly sugared. They were served cool and coated with cocoa.

Overall, I can see why this has become one of M’s regulars. It has just the right balance of special and relaxed, and most importantly, the food is well-made, fresh and tasty.

The Carlton Wine Room
172 — 174 Faraday Street
Carlton 3053 
03 9347 2626

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Wednesday, 4:00pm to 11:00pm
Thursday to Monday, 12:00pm to late

The Carlton Wine Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato