Food and wine naturally go hand in hand. So as wine enthusiasts, it is a felicitous good fortune to live in a city with such gastronomic quality and diversity as Melbourne. And among the countless phenomenal dining options, there are a selection of restaurants that allow you to bring your own bottle of wine. For a small corkage fee, of course. So, if you're itching to try a bottle stashed at home or want to experiment with different food and wine pairings, here are five of our favourites BYO restaurants in Melbourne.
Located in South Yarra, France-Soir is a Melbourne institution that has been serving up classic brasserie fare for over 35 years. Little has changed since owner Jean-Paul Prunetti in opened the restaurant in 1986, which authentically replicates the atmosphere and panache of a bustling Parisian bistro; French-speaking waiters weave deftly among close-set tables, dispensing expert service and casual bonhomie. At the back of the restaurant, hidden behind a set of swinging doors, the small but busy kitchen delivers a stream of classic French staples from steak tartare to cuisse de canard gras confite, and crème brûlée or mousse au chocolat for dessert. In addition to one of the most extensive French wine lists in the city, France-Soir has an equally enticing BYO policy. For lunch Saturday to Thursday, diners can bring their own bottle for just $15 corkage. A delicately oaked chardonnay or a spicy syrah from your home cellar would certainly not go astray. (This policy does not extend to evening sittings, public holidays, Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.)
The Prince Dining Room
Formerly known as the Prince of Wales, The Prince Hotel has recently undergone an ambitious overhaul that has signalled a new era for the storied St Kilda’s icon. Included in the refurbishment is the hotel’s restaurant, which has been replaced by a light-filled all-day diner named the Prince Dining Room. The flavoursome menu has been designed by Executive Chef Dan Cooper, who takes inspiration from the robust flavours and spices of the Mediterranean. Dishes are designed to share, with humble vegetables and sides presented as heroes in equal measure to the main plates. The Dining Room has established a BYO policy with Little Prince Wine, a chic European-inspired wine bar and bottle shop that boasts a 4000 bottle collection of local and international wines. Before your sitting, stop in at the bottle shop to peruse the collection and choose something to pair with your meal. Corkage is $30 for bottles priced $300 or less, while bottles at $300+ attract no fee. The range has been meticulously curated by the Prince Hotel’s Head Sommelier, Laurent Rospars. With over 35 years in the wine industry, he is a wealth of wine knowledge – as far as wine recommendations go, you’re in safe hands.
It was while travelling through the Piemonte region of Italy that the pair were irreversibly charmed by the region’s food and wine. They have since brought this culture to life on the Melbourne food scene with their charming restaurant on Nicholson Street in Carlton. Crisp white tablecloths and a chic modern interior give the impression of elegant formality, but the team at Scopri quickly establishes a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. This effortless warmth also extends to their food. Fresh produce comes from Scopri’s biodynamic farm in the Macedon Ranges, where the vegetable plantings are planned in consultation with our chefs to serve their seasonal menus. Robust Italian flavour permeates the ever-changing menu, which features dishes such as agnolotti del plin, Bistecca alal brace and, during the right season, a healthy dose of truffle. In addition to their stunning menu, Scopri offers an exceedingly affordable BYO policy, with a corkage fee of $15 per bottle. Our advice: come with an appetite and that bottle of red you’ve been saving for a truly special meal.
Tucked away at the suburban end of Queens Parade in Fitzroy North, The Recreation is a charming bistro and bottle shop by veterans of the Melbourne food and wine scene: Steven Nelson, Joe Durrant and Mark Protheroe. A modern neighbourhood restaurant, the atmosphere is friendly yet refined, bringing together excellent service, convivial ambiance and well-crafted meals. Drawing on elements of French, Spanish and Italian cuisine, along with a smattering of South American flavour, The Recreation offers a succinct yet tantalising menu. From richly sauced pasta dishes and delicately seasoned seafood to culinary classics, like steak frites and fig and hazelnut tart, the integration of flavour, appearance and texture comes together seamlessly. Naturally, such fine food deserves equally fine wine. Along with the excellent wine list together by Protheroe, The Recreation offers the option to bring your own for a $20 corkage fee. We suspect that new world expressions of European classics would complement the cuisine perfectly.
A Melbourne icon of Chinese cuisine, Dainty Sichuan offers a culinary journey through one of China’s most flavoursome provinces. Celebrated for the regional peppercorns, Sichuan cuisine is best known for its fragrant, almost mouth-numbing heat, that will keep your taste buds on their proverbial toes. The restaurant has all the trappings of a traditional Chinese restaurant, with classic oriental décor, dedicated hotplates for the acclaimed Chongqing hot pots and an abundance of lazy susans. Ants climbing trees, a glass-noodle dish is a classic, while the fierce Chongqing chicken (fried chicken hidden under a mountain of chilli) remains a firm favourite. A haven for dinners who appreciate well-balanced spice and heat, a meal here is not for the faint-hearted. And while this may make for a more challenging food and wine pairing, the option to bring your own wine opens up a world of possibility and experimentation: a textural Fumé Blanc or a mineral grüner veltliner would provide beautiful contrast to the spiced cuisine.