Like the Choose Your Own Adventure books of the 1980s, the Reserve Wine Bar experience is in your hands.
Yes, it’s a wine bar, but you can interpret that as you see fit. Owner Patrick Haddock put it this way.
“I think we sit somewhere in between a casual wine bar and a hatted restaurant but our wine list would compete alongside some of the best in Australia for its sheer depth and volume. I still think there’s an almost schizophrenic relationship with our venue – is it a bar or a restaurant? All I can say is don’t worry too much – it can be a place for a snack at the bar or it can be a place for an extended dinner. The customer chooses the experience.”
A lot has happened at Reserve Wine Bar since Haddock opened the doors of the former inner-city bank to the public three years ago.
“We have changed the food in a big way and I still think we can continue to push the wine bar menu so it’s full of firm favourites as well as doing playful and creative food,” he told Food & Wine.
A $25 lunch was introduced, wines by the glass increased, Cory Campbell came on board as executive chef, drinks specialist Chris Woodger has shaken up the cocktail list and the Tuesday night Bao Brothers experiment has worked.
“It’s a great way to get people in on a school night and we are considering doing an industry burger night on Mondays in the future,” Haddock said.
Given the range of dining options in Newcastle, venues have to think outside the square to survive; to find their niche but not be afraid to mix things up as the need arises. Reserve Wine Bar is no exception.
“The landscape of Newcastle has changed and you cannot simply expect customers to flock to your venue any more. When we first opened it seemed very formal, then it was pared back, and now I think we have reached a happy medium where you can have a drink and a snack, or a full meal and a couple of good bottles,” Haddock said.
To celebrate its third birthday Reserve Wine Bar is hosting a four-course wine dinner on October 27 with celebrated Yarra Valley winery Yarra Yering and winemaker Sarah Crowe.
“Our guests are in for a treat. Expect the unexpected on the plate is all I can say,” Haddock said.