Cute name, right? It’s a reference to a kid’s book: Clever Polly And The Stupid Wolf. A fable which, for Lou Chalmer and her brother Rohan, represented the battle between small, independent winemakers and the huge chain brands that squeeze them out. Clever Polly’s was the result: a warm little West Melbourne wine bar. Moody, chic and intimate.
When Polly’s opened its doors in 2014, it was all about the small batch, sustainable wine. Natural drops from local vintners, the ones who were fighting the good fight against Big Wine. Three years on and Lou and Rohan have decided to pivot slightly. Polly’s will still champion local wine—it’s just gonna pair it with some cracking Japanese food.
The change has seen head chef Sam Stafford join the team, fresh from stints at Town Mouse, Momofuku, Seibo and Nomad. He’s put together a whip-smart five-course chef’s menu (for a cheeky $70pp) alongside some tasty snacks to help the vino go down. The dishes are seasonal, and due to change almost fortnightly, but you can expect sophisticated combos like poached and charcoal-grilled duck breast with miso consommé, kohlrabi and delicate rapa turnips. Polly’s will offer two beverage-pairings to go with the new menu: “traditional” and “the road less travelled” (for the more adventurous drinker).
Lou Chalmer and manager Chris Dobson have curated an A-Grade drinks list, as you’d expect. Craft beers and boutique spirits, artisanal sake (warm and cold), plus an extensive wine cellar that’ll keep you guessing. There’s even a retail store if a particular bottle catches your eye. Keep an eye out for the Polly’s Friday lunch special too: three courses and a glass of plonk for $45 a head. Scrumptious.