The Court Wine Bar, well before the small bar phenomena that erupted in Perth following the freeing up the licensing laws under the last State Labor government – sadly the current licensing regime seems to be regressing back to the pre-reform era – was at the pointy end of the bar scene – an actual bar that concentrated on serving wine, good wine at that- amazing! Now the Court has gone and in its place is Dominion League.
I dropped by on Friday – the only day it opens before 4PM – for a light lunch and to have a look around. The ground floor hasn’t changed a great deal – different art work for sure – none of the political caricatures of the Court, but a photograph of some of the 1930s secessionist campaigners of the Dominion League; an elegant looking wine cabinet on the back wall, and a paint job on the lovely pressed tin arched ceiling. The lighting is a lot dimmer, too and the front has been opened up a bit; but it still recognizable as the old place where I spent many an hour (and even one old unionist of note propping up a corner like the good old days when it was a hangout of unionists, politicians and newspaper chaps).
I didn’t get the chance to go downstairs – it doesn’t open till 5PM so I will need to return to have a look at that – it was always a great spot to eat and drink, and I gather it now has a concentration on spirits and cocktails – whisky especially – so looking forward to another visit to check it out.
Anyway, I had a look at the menu – quite a short selection for lunch but it is more extensive in the evening – it included a steak sandwich, goats cheese salad, pork pie, chips, green salad, chicken wings, house terrine, devils on horseback – prunes wrapped in pancetta – and grilled prawns. I went for a smoked salmon sandwich, and as I have a particular liking for pickles, a serve of pickled vegetables.
The drinks list has a relatively small wine selection, but includes some interesting and unusual inclusions. Among the whites are a La Prova Pinot Grigio from Sam Scott’s Adelaide Hills winery; an interesting Gewurtztraminer, Riesling and Weißer Herold blend from Chaffey Brothers in the Eden Valley and Vinaceous Wines’ Reverend V Riesling from Mt Barker (I decided on a glass of the latter two)….two roses – La Linea Tempranillo and Lethbridge’s Shiraz/Pinot/Grenache blend – while the reds included the excellent Bremerton Malbec from Langhorne Creek, Red Claw Pinot Noir from Mornington Peninsula and the absolutely outstanding Thompsons Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaret River (see my review of some of the wines from this winery at http://perthcafeculture.com.au/thompson-estate/
The open sandwich involved a good amount of smoked salmon, piled onto a slice of bread, slathered in avocado as the “butter” and topped with whipped cream infused with lemon, cucumber and with lettuce on the side. The salmon was smoky, rich and oily, the avocado smooth, buttery and nutty, and the lemony tones from the whipped cream a great accompaniment. It was a very good, tasty, fresh and light snack.
The pickles came in a small bowl, and included a halved quails egg, carrot, baby cucumbers, capsicum and onion. The vegetables were crunchy, tart and delicious; the egg added another flavour component – the pickles are house made and show the kitchen has the pickling process down pat.
The Riesling has very distinct floral notes on the nose, typical of a cool climate wine, and an amazing limey, minerally palate; good acid, and a long dry finish. It is an excellent wine.
The blend was something else – having never had it before – I was struck by the musky, Turkish delight aromas, and the sweet citrus notes – mandarin – and hint of lychees on the palate. It had a semi dry finish. It is a very interesting wine – and is typical of the experimental wines these guys are turning out.
The Dominion League is a worthy successor to one of my all time favourite bars – those behind it had put their own unique stamp on the place – excellent and unusual wines on a well put together list, simple, tasty food, and with a pleasant vibe – I should also mention the bar staff – friendly, knowledgeable, welcoming. I will return soon to explore downstairs. Recommended.