Syracuse Wine Bar and Restaurant, 23 Bank Place, Melbourne

I haven’t  been to Syracuse in over five years and it seems that it hasn’t changed too much. Still the dramatic draped curtain at the entrance. Still the strong attention to wine. Still lovely food to share.

I was thinking about why I hadn’t been back to Syracuse for so long and I think it’s because I’m not much of a drinker. If you love wine, then I’m told that this is the place to go to sample some gorgeous drops, and the cheapest bottle of wine starts at around the $40 mark. If you love food more (like me), then while I think the food is pretty good I think it does take second place to the focus on wine.

Between three of us we shared five small plates and a side and I think that was the right amount of food.

Pan fried calamari with wild rocket ($17).  This was a large plate heaped with tender calamari and rocket with a dressing that I’ve forgotten but also not memorable.

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Garlic prawns with cauliflower puree and preserved lemon ($15). The prawns were quite juicy, while the puree was perfect with bread.

Syracuse Wine Bar and Restaurant, 23 Bank Place, Melbourne

Grilled octopus with chorizo, potato, paprika and pickled garlic ($14.50). I generally enjoyed the mix of textures in this dish, especially the knobs of soft octopus, although the tiny bits of chorizo were a bit hard and bullet-like for my liking.

Syracuse Wine Bar and Restaurant, 23 Bank Place, Melbourne

Braised beef rump meatballs with Napoli sauce ($12.50). This was my least favourite dish – the meatballs, while well seasoned, were a bit firm and one-dimensional in flavour for me. The sauce was good for dipping with bread though.

Rabbit with white wine and figs ($18.50). As Matt Preston would say, the ‘hero’ dish of the night with tender rabbit pieces and tiny melting figs (sorry for the fuzzy pic).

Brussels sprouts with bacon ($9.50). This dish will convert Brussels sprouts haters, I promise. Far removed from the overboiled green sludge of boarding school memories, these were fresh pan-fried sprouts with charred edges and flecked with the saltiness of bacon.

Overall I enjoyed every dish we ordered, to varying degrees. I wasn’t blown away by the food, but it was solidly cooked so that I would be quite happy to return to Syracuse or to recommend it to others, particularly if they are wine lovers.

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