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Champion team open Banksia Wine Bar in McCrae

Words by Richard Cornish
Images supplied

Heading down the southern end of the Nepean Highway, the road runs along the coast, edging the azure waters and the old banksia forest. This is the inspiration for the name famed chef Bernard McCarthy and his partners have given their new wine bar Banksia, at the foot of Arthurs Seat.

The others involved are McCarthy’s partner and front-of-house legend Georgie Linton and owners of Rye Independent Wine Store Ang Strickland and Chantelle Chiron. They have taken over the old brick and timber building that was until recently Kobie Jack’s trattoria that overlooks the banksia forest and McCrae beach.

“There wasn’t a good wine bar on the Peninsula offering wine by the glass from small producers,” says Bernard McCarthy. He made a name for himself winning awards for his progressive take on European classics at Salix at Willow Creek, the site of today’s Jackalope.

We’ve been looking for a space for years and when this one came up late last year we jumped at the chance.

The open room that once housed a wood-fired pizza is now a cool, smooth space to enjoy the sea vibes seated at the blonde timber bar running at the back of the room or sitting at the live-coloured banquettes lining the walls.

Banksia Wine Room

McCarthy cooks an ever-changing menu of 15 small plates such as a super simple caprese of homegrown tomatoes, basil and mozzarella or brined, simmer, skinned and BBQ lamb tongues with local mushrooms and a tangy chermoula or a bigger plate of pillow-like gnocchi with lip-smacking cotechino, classic soft lentils and a sharp cleansing rhubarb crumble.

The wines come from small family businesses from neighbouring areas on the Mornington Peninsula all the way to France. Recent wines included a Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal in Austria to the Bloody Hills Villages Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley. The atmosphere is casual and fun but the attitude the team take to their food and wine is nothing but serious.


Who: Banksia Wine Room
What: Excellent small plates and wines by the glass (and bottle).
Where: 677 Point Nepean Rd, McCrae
When: Opened Feb ’23
Why: These people know how to look after people who love good food and wine
Find out more: Banksia Wine Room

We wish to acknowledge the Bunurong people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.
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