After a brief stint at retirement, Alan and Debbie Giles returned to hospitality as the proud new operators of The House of Wine and Food. This power couple dabbled in retirement, moving to France for a year before they ‘got bored’ and decided to return to what they love.
Tucked away in a quiet street in Port Melbourne, this beautiful building was once home to The Cricketer’s Arms Hotel. Carefully refurbished over a six-month period, The House of Wine and Food emerged as a force majeure. Having kept all of its old-world charm and character, I was in love with the feel of the place. Walking in, there was no way to tell that it once used to be a typical Aussie sports bar and pub.
My plus one and I arrived on a sunny Sunday afternoon and were seated in the beer garden area. The phrase ‘beer garden’ does nothing to describe this space. I felt like I had walked into a spacious, seaside Mediterranean restaurant complete with its own outdoor kitchen. The bright colours, wicker tables and chairs, and oversized cushions took me back to France. And that was before the wonderful smell of bouillabaisse hit me.
Simmering away in the outdoor kitchen, Alan was busy preparing delicious French classics like coq au vin and bouillabaisse. Inside, Deb was hard at work running the indoor kitchen where the a la carte items and desserts are made. The menu holds true to classic French dining, with the addition of some Italian legends.
My Caprese salad was mind-blowing; I didn’t realise how amazing this seemingly simple flavour combination could be. The masterpiece of the afternoon was the bouillabaisse that comes laden with seafood like crab, prawns, crayfish, scallops, and mussels. The flavours of saffron, leek, and onion shine in this rich seafood broth. My tastebuds were singing.
It’s obvious that The House of Wine and Food was borne from the labour of love for this husband and wife duo. On the inside of the building, there’s an intimate wine bar tucked away on a side, whilst across the hall was a private dining space that oozed glamour and charm.
I highly recommend settling in for a long lunch or relaxed dinner at The House of Wine and Food. The Mediterranean kitchen features a rotating roster of French and Italian classics and is open every Sunday for lunch and dinner.
Ashanie Perera is a foodaholic, and avid eater. When she’s not dreaming about her next meal, she can be found running around the block to continue fitting into her current clothes. @thepursuitofchubbyness
The House of Wine and Food
69 Cruikshank Street
Port Melbourne VIC 3207
The venue is wheelchair accessible