Drinks Service Award: Time Out Food Awards 2017

For innovative beverage offerings that take restaurant meals to another level
Photograph: Graham Denholm
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Winner: The Recreation Bistro

A heritage building on a wide corner of Queens Parade in Fitzroy North is home to this bistro of simple charm and utility. Watch your perfect tagliatelle being rolled to order in the open kitchen, its occupants seemingly never stressed. Served with Italian flag colours of bright green onions, red chilli and pale crabmeat, it’s the sort of ideal simplicity that only true love can conjure. And just as flexible as the food is the brilliant wine program, the purview of veterans Joe Durrant and Mark Protheroe (ex-Grossi Florentino) who co-own the Recreation with chef Steven Nelson.

The choices are razor sharp, focusing on uncommon local and European producers. A herbaceous gamay has more power than your standard quaffer, with enough weight and crunch to balance the sweetness and funk of a pear and blood pudding tart tartin. It’s a pairing that reminds you how good pairings can be. But not only can you drink great wine here, you can also bring your own, or buy bottles at far cheaper prices to take away thanks to a multi-function liquor licence. Designed to be in and of the community, they’re a representation of what makes this one of the world’s great hospitality cities.

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