Dynamic duo, Christian McCabe and Dave Verheul, are injecting a sense of fun back into drinking wine with their new wine bar, Embla.
Christian (co-owner of Carlton favourite, The Town Mouse) and Dave, a pro-skater turned chef (the Savoy in London and the Bentley in Sydney), combined their wealth of experience and knowledge to create a destination that would become something of a meeting place for Melburnians. Embla has already gained a loyal following in its three-month lifetime and with a visit from celebrity chef Matt Preston, it seems the only way for the Embla team is up.
The boys wanted to focus on the drinking side of the experience and, as a result, the wine list is incredibly extensive – more than 10 pages long in fact. Including drops from France, Spain, Italy, Germany, New Zealand and of course Australia, Embla ensures its list appeals to a range of tastes. Designed with help from French wine guru, Eric Narioo, and homegrown Aussie winemaker, Patrick Sullivan, the compilation illustrates their combined experience in the field.
While the wine list is extensive, it may appear a bit ‘weird’ to wine connoisseurs but the boys are totally okay with that, in fact, that’s the way they’ve designed it. Instead of focusing on the process through which the wine has been produced, Embla offers wines that tell a story. “Truly interesting wine tells a story of place, which makes it unique, fleeting, and full of intrigue,” explained Christian. This results in an experience that is truly about the wine.
The menu is simple and minimalistic, to complement but not overshadow the drinking experience. Menu options include anchovy toast; soured cucumbers with feta cream and dill dust; and stracciatella with chamomile and fennel. But the signature menu item would have to be the half-chicken roasted with garlic cloves, rosemary and a chicken sauce – cooked simply, but to perfection in the kitchen’s wood-fired oven. While you may think you’re full, there is always room for dessert when options include rum and raisin ice cream with black figs; and a concoction of blood plum, yoghurt and fennel flower.
The menu also makes use of ingredients that are fresh and seasonal – look out for items like heirloom tomatoes and courgettes on the current menu – as well as local cheeses.
The space itself was designed with help from Kiwi architect, Allistar Cox, and makes use of wood (recycled wherever possible), assorted light fittings and a kitchen bar – where customers can marvel at the minimalist works of art being created in front of their eyes. It is intimate, dark and cosy – the perfect place for every occasion, whether it be a big boozy night, or sipping away on a glass of red with your book.
And for those who are up and at ’em early, Embla has just started opening from 8am, serving Proud Mary coffee, breakfast, and wine (they promise not to judge!) all day long.