Neptune Food and Wine, Windsor

Eat, Melbourne, Restaurants / 12 September 2019

Neptune Food and Wine’s languid style of eating offers an excellent way to lose a few hours of an evening indulging in Italian fare.

All around Mediterranean Europe, there exists a style of eating that could take in an hour in the evening or whole afternoon with friends, ordering a drink and something to eat with it, exactly as you feel like it, and repeating ad infinitum. This rambling type of dining is thoroughly encouraged by the friendly staff at Neptune Food and Wine, where the menu is divided by the size of the offerings and every dish is designed to share.

Serving impeccably fresh Italian-themed seafood, bread and pasta – made daily – and a dynamic and ever-changing wine list make Windsor’s Neptune Food and Wine an excellent way to lose a few hours to a languid gustatory adventure.

The room is eclectic with bar-style tables, cosy booths, an open fire, exposed brick and wine bottles as far as the eye can see. There is clearly a focus. The near 30 wines on pour (starting from $10) are well-chosen, changed frequently, and poured by servers with an intimate knowledge of the list. Wines by the bottle are chosen from the hundreds on the ‘wall of wine’ that runs almost the length of the bar. There is a short cocktail list which heavily features aperitives and an interesting list of amaro.

Neptune Arancini

We chose ‘leave it to us’ ($65) from the menu, though on Sundays before three there is a set ($45) involving something green, a protein and a carb. For the rest of September that’s char-grilled broccolini, Black Angus cap and Milanese risotto.

Fresh sourdough made with sous-chef Federico’s mother’s starter arrives with house churned butter and a dusting of dried herbs. A slice of potato focaccia ($3 each) is ethereally light and moist with a crisp exterior. Sweetcorn arancini ($5 each) were lifted by candied jalapeño.

The seafood has been well-sourced at Neptune Food and Wine. Their Sydney Rock and Pacific oysters ($4.5 each) are sourced directly from the farm and shucked to order. Albacore tuna ($17) served raw, with blood orange, kampot pepper and horseradish, is delicate and buttery-textured. The flavours are muted to the extent that the tuna is left to tell its own story. We really enjoyed this dish, which was well matched with a Sicilian Grillo ($13).

Neptune Tuna Crudo

West Australian spanner crab ($30) was served with al dente spaghetti, fried saltbush, the occasional searing slice of chilli, citrus, and a glass of Albariño ($14), a pairing that allowed the excellent seafood to take centre stage.

Grain fed Gippsland porterhouse ($42), listed merely as beef because the cut changes every few days, was beautifully cooked, rested, seasoned and sliced to share. It came with a subtle balsamic jus, grilled kale and roasted then fried potatoes ensconced in salsa verde. A solid mountain of a Kaesler Barossa Shiraz ($14), provided a structured backdrop.

Dessert was a layered pot of chocolate mousse, mandarin supremes, zabaglione, mandarin sorbet and hazelnut praline ($15), and a vintage fortified from Portuguese Australian producer Simão ($16).

The next time with a group of friends, or out on a date, and you feel like surrendering a few hours to food and wine, Neptune won’t put limits on your good time.