Willi’s Bar at the Royal

We went along to Willi’s – the revamped and reimagined corner bar at the Royal in Wellington Street – during the week for lunch and came away very impressed. The bar itself has had a makeover with what was the drinks bar being expanded to include a kitchen, racks of inviting wines around the walls and an overall attractive and welcoming feel, the latter enhanced by top quality staff.

The wine list is very well put together, with an excellent range, and a good number of these available by the glass – the changing by the glass selection listed on a blackboard. The food is a mix of small and large plates designed for sharing, and on the day we came a roast of pork was bubbling away releasing very inviting aromas indeed.
A glass of Konpira Maru’s I Dream the Tangerine rosé from Queensland – a zippy and tart blend of Sangiovese and Verdelho allowed the taste buds to get in the mood as we looked over the menu – along with a bottle of Dormilona Yokel Grenache – summery red berries, strawberries, raspberries on the nose, tart cherries and cola on the vibrant palate – to follow with the food.

And the food? Well, the prime rib sando kicked things off – juicy melting meat in a bun along with pickled lettuce and mustard cream certainly hit the spot. And on the pickles, there is an array of jars above the kitchen filled with fermenting and pickling vegetables demonstrating the commitment of the chef to these increasingly popular offerings.

And this carried over to the crisp olive ciabatta wafer, smeared with creamy, garlicky toum, and topped with pickled vegetables and zucchini.

Next, a plate of luscious kingfish crudo served with fermented chilli, finger lime pearls and ponzu adding a sharp citrus component to the dish.

We finished with one of the selection of cheeses on offer – Maffra blue served with a basket of varied breads and wafers, with a splodge of Davidson plum and another of sweet honeycomb – all very delicious.

While I always enjoyed dropping into the corner bar for a drink, the rejig has made it all the more attractive and will be calling me even more over coming months. Do go along soon…

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