Most small bars try to be eccentric, but there’s something genuinely oddball about The Lodge Wine Bar. It could be the old giant clock hanging from the ceiling that doubles as the main light fixture, the circular faded brown lounge that looks like something out of a 1940s English bachelor pad or the old framed Penfolds ad showing a gentleman driving a wine bottle. Combined with the dark wood panelling, leather armchairs, red curtains and glass-enclosed courtyard with plants and wooden benches, the Lodge Wine Bar almost feels like something a P.G. Wodehouse character would drink in – which is, believe it or not, a compliment.
This isn’t a bar for cocktail lovers – instead, the drinks menu is primarily filled with a solid list of craft beers and an impressive array of wine by the bottle, although they also do wine by the glass.
I order the Stone and Wood golden ale from Byron Bay ($9), which is great – possibly the best beer I’ve tried in a month. I could be pretentious and talk about its citrus notes but to cut the crap it’s a beer that’s easy to drink and yet has a depth of flavour and somehow feels fresh. Ok, that description was still probably pretentious (and anyway, at $9 a pop you’d want it to be good!). As for food: they serve snacks such as oysters and salumi platters, but if I were to come back I’d probably try their pan con sobrassada – sourdough toast with chorizo paste and pickled beetroot ($6.50).
Lastly, the crowd here is eclectic – a mix of young and old, couples and groups. In short, this is a wine bar worthy of Balmain, a suburb that I’ve always found a little odd and yet charming myself. If I were a local I’d definitely make this a regular haunt.
The Lodge Wine Bar, 3/415 Darling Street, Balmain. Open 4pm-10pm daily
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate The Lodge Wine Bar in Balmain?