If there’s one thing we love, it’s someone taking the time to preserve and give new life to one of our historic pubs, and that’s just what’s happened at The House of Wine and Food.
- The House of Wine and Food
The iconic Cricketers Arms Hotel in Port Melbourne is now a modern, French inspired haven with local historic charm.
Melbourne hospitality veterans Deborah and Alan Giles are responsible for the revamp.
And they’ve created something very unique.
The House of Wine and Food manages to combine fine dining with that feeling of dining at home.
Is it the fact that the venue is nestled among beautiful old Port Melbourne homes?
Is it the delicious array of aromas that waft under your nose the second you open the door?
Or perhaps the fact that the the Victorian-style “Private Library” dining room looks basically like the dining room you’ve always wanted?
Maybe it’s the fact that the Giles live and work on the premises, and can be seen cooking the meals and running the show.
“We deliberately avoided cutting-edge materials like glass, concrete and steel, and set about creating an evocative atmosphere which goes to the heart of hospitality, a feeling of coming together with family and friends in an extension of home,” Alan says.
When was the last time you saw a traditional French bouillabaisse on the menu? Good news, it’s The House of Wine and Food’s specialty.
The famous French seafood stew is based on a recipe picked up in Marseilles in the late 1960s by Alan.
If you get a chance, ask him to regale you with the tale.
“I can still smell the sea, the boats and the saffron-y dish to this day,” Alan says.
“All the ingredients were there to see and I wrote them in my diary and have remained faithful to that experience ever since. This is the dish we are serving.”
The bouillabaisse ($39.90) is a cornucopia of seafood delights. Prawns, crabs, mussels and more, swim in a delightful broth.
If you’re looking to shake off the already chilling weather, this is the dish.
Not feeling the seafood special?
The autumn menu features French and Italian-inspired dishes made with fresh ingredients, such as meat from Bouchiers, seafood from Clamms and vegetables from South Melbourne Market.
Try the Tuscan roast lamb, Boeuf Bourguignon, Navarian of Lamb or Coq au Vin.
Oh, and it would be remiss of us to forget the ‘wine’ in The House of Food and Wine.
The bouillabaisse was paired with a flavourful rosé but the rest of the list includes a selection from Australia, France and Italy, with a large range by the glass.
About the owners
The Giles’ have more than 100 years hospitality experience between them, and spent 30 years running the Malvern Hotel and 25 years at the Turf Club Hotel, as well as time running The Albert Park, The Montague, The Beaumaris, The Sandringham and Arthurs Restaurant, plus several interstate hotels.
The couple took over the Cricketers Arms last year because their brief retirement was “boring”.
“Having been involved in the food and liquor business all of our working lives, we found our retirement was very boring,” Alan said.
“The old Cricketers Arms Hotel had the right structure and location for the sort of business that we wanted to create. While the structure is the same, the décor has been completely renewed.”
We dined in the sheltered, year-round courtyard dining area. Chairs = comfy. Outdoor heaters = perfection.
* Melbourne Lyf dined courtesy of The House of Wine and Food.