Fitzroy’s pop-up wine bar serving shaker fries and fried chicken has a mind to stick around
High ceilings, exposed brick, temporary lighting fixtures reminiscent of a theatrical set, minimalist plywood furniture and a cash-only policy could only mean one thing on Smith Street: a pop-up. This one sees a collaboration between the much-loved, long-running, independent wine team from Blackhearts and Sparrows, and Raph Rashid, king of Melbourne’s food-truck scene, who has coincidentally just released his first cookbook, Hungry for That.
“It’s really two businesses running as one,” says the barman on this afternoon. Weekends see this pop-up open at midday and the bar is already packed with the 20-something crowd dressed entirely in monochrome hunting out the next best fried chicken sandwich on the strip. Wines and whatever beers they feel like putting on tap this week are dispensed from the central table acting as a bar, and food is ordered, paid for and collected out back from a tuck-shop style take-out window.
The wines on show are indicative of Blackhearts and Sparrow’s wine store and can be a little challenging for most of the young, pub-going crowd in the room. But the wine team keeps everyone happy with detailed technical and tasting notes to convince a novice wine drinker to try something new. Glasses are between $8 and $14 and we opt for their Cataratto – a Sicilian wine from producer Marco de Bartoli, which is quite a floral and dry white with a bit of acid that leaves a vaguely saline aftertaste – in a good way. There are also bottles available to purchase from $40-$75 dollars, with a few outliers at $85 and $90 aimed towards the wine geek seeking a bottle of Burgundy or a five-year-old Poulsard blend from Jura, respectively.
Teaming these wines with food you normally get out of a truck is just very Fitzroy – only this is probably the first time we’ve seen Rashid’s food come out of an actual kitchen. A cool $12 will get you a fried-chicken sandwich with compulsory ’slaw; a “sandwich”, best described as a burger filled with fried eggplant steaks on lashings of mashed avocado, pickles and chipotle mayo; or a duo of (fried) chicken tacos with spiced eggplant and lime. Grab some “shaker” fries dusted with your choice of habanero, cheese powder or jerk chicken flavourings to share for $6.
Black Market may not be breaking boundaries, but the teams are striving for quality despite the inevitable expiry date at the end of the year. Never fear: Blackhearts and Sparrows have the lease to the space, and intend on bringing a full wine store to Fitzroy in February – growler swap and all.
|Venue name:||Black Market (Closed)|
123 Smith St
|Opening hours:||Thu-Fri 6pm-midnight; Sat-Sun noon-midnight|