On a cold Winter night, walking through the backstreets of Potts Point down to Elizabeth Bay, there is nothing quite so appealing as the dining room of Culina Et Vinum. Glass walls look onto low banquet seating, a very well stocked bar and the open kitchen of this modern European restaurant. Honestly, you could be walking past on the street and still see the chefs plating up steaming dishes like slow cooked lamb shoulder and homemade gnocchi. We dare you to keep walking, when plates of baked figs oozing with Holy Goat cheese and pecan praline arrive at a table.
Culina Et Vinum, Latin for Kitchen and Wine, is exactly that. A space that lets the food and drink do the talking. And boy do they know how to have a conversation. With head chef and co-owner Naomi Lowry at the helm, the menu cherry picks some of Europe’s best techniques to be brought to life with sustainable local produce. There’s a dry ager in the corner of the room, with the kitchen dry aging jumbo lamb tomahawks, served with cannellini bean hummus and fried sprouts, and mammoth striploin accompanied by roast potatoes and Shiraz butter. Locals are already attached to the roast spatchcock, a bird with a generous serve of charred pencil leeks and a delicate bread sauce and will set you back a reasonable $36. Specials like the lamb shoulder and ancient grains are a big hit but make sure you save room for dessert. It’s a tough choice between Grandma’s Scones, with ricotta and mascarpone pudding, and a Ginger Bread Ice Cream Sandwich with cinnamon roasted persimmons. The snap of a good ginger biscuit wins out, the ginger soothed out by smooth vanilla ice cream. Chocolate lovers will devour a chocolate cigar, but there’s also an international cheese selection, with heavy hitters like French Roquefort and British Cheddar.
With Lowry taking care of the kitchen, fellow co-owner Abhi Mahadevan looks after the wine. The sommelier has poured his heart and soul into the wine list, which dedicates plenty of space to wine by the glass, from both local and international brands. We’re particularly happy with the sparkling wine and champagne section – start off with an Italian prosecco or a moscato, there’s even a French champagne for $24. Go all out with a glass of Dom, because, um, why not? It will only set you back $39, which is pretty reasonable all things considered. White wine from New Zealand, Italy and Canberra, and red from all over Australia, as well as Argentina and Italy, covers all bases. There’s also new age wines like a Mornington Peninsula Orange wine.
If you’re looking for a new local, where you can drink good wine, and eat good food, this is your spot.
Culina Et Vinum
Tues – Fri: noon until late
Weekends: 8am until late