108 Sturt St, Adelaide SA 5000
(08) 8410 6246
Exposed brick walls, crooked vintage pictures in weathered picture frames, candles, typewriters and jars of succulents – Cantina is the type of place you wish was your house, if you were just that little bit better at styling.
It’s wine cellar meets European tapas bar, with local wines poured straight from the barrel and scrumptious small plates that will have you sitting and nibbling for hours.
It’s small. Really small. But not in the pokey way that makes you feel a little bit claustrophobic, in the way that makes you feel like rain or shine you could while away the hours by the window and watch people pass by in the leafy Southern streets of the city.
The locale is a little bit unexpected, leading Cantina to be a bit of a hidden gem. It might still be a secret to many but it’s generally packed with couples or quiet groups of people hankering for a cosy spot where they can chatter away with a darn good drop of wine and a gooey wedge of cheese. What more could you want?
The wine bar opened in 2011 and was developed by renowned South Aussie winemaker, Justin Lane, honouring his love affair with Italian wine bars during some overseas vintage work. While Justin has since sold the venue, new owner, Robert Urhig, is a also wine buff with a love of travel, noting locations the likes of Europe, the US and of course Australia, as some of his favourite. While wine experts are behind the bar, they certainly don’t expect punters to follow suit.
“Our aim at Cantina Sociale is to help people enjoy wine without the pressure of not knowing anything,” said Manager, Lindsey Barnes. This experience is as unique as you can get, with special barrels sent direct from the winemaker to Cantina and poured for you. “We’re able to sell wine not available for purchase elsewhere and most likely the only one of its kind.”
While the bar seats a limited 35 people, this keeps it intimate, comfortable and cosy. “We would love to expand – in an ideal world we would love to open bars with the same concept all over the world using that region’s local produce in food and wine. The more sustainable the better.”
Sample some of South Australia’s top local drops such as Coriole, Serafino and By Jingo from the barrel, and nibble on scrumptious cheeses from local cheese company Say Cheese. Another local guru Marino Meats supplies all the salty meat snacks the likes of weekly changing cured meats. And fret not – all the desired trimmings including olives, pickles, cornichons and croutons are all on board too. Plus, they’ve got lots of other little small bites to satisfy hungrier folk, inspired by the nearby Adelaide Central Market.
But the wine is the main event here, and we’re certainly not complaining about that!