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Joe’s: the wine bar we’ve been waiting for

Amanda Whitley

Canberra has been crying out for a sophisticated wine bar south of the bridge for a really long time. Mr HerCanberra and I live inner south and are no longer in our 20s, so there’s little appeal in noisy sports bars and pubs on a Friday or Saturday night; what we want is somewhere intimate and laidback.

It’s a sentiment shared by East Hotel’s assistant general manager, Dion Bisa, when we speak a few weeks back, giving us the heads up on Joe’s Bar, the hotel’s buzzy Italian small bar and eatery, opening this Friday 31 July.

“It’s the kind of place you stop by for an aperitivo but end up staying for the evening,” she says.

Authentic Italian fare, cocktails and a carefully curated wine list make Joe's Bar a place to 'settle in'. Photo credit: Nathan Lanham.

Authentic Italian fare, cocktails and a carefully curated wine list make Joe’s Bar a place to ‘settle in’. Photo credit: Nathan Lanham.

Dion and brother Dan created Joe’s Bar as a nod to their Italian heritage and their own father Giuseppe, or Joe as friends and family call him.

Designed by The Gentry’s Kelly Ross, the space is big on textures and layers with earthen finishes and materials and conversation styling pieces dotted throughout including an incredible floor-to-ceiling concrete curtain at the entrance. The chic 10-metre long solid marble bar and open kitchen create a vibrant atmosphere with a mix of high and low seating and intimate corners.

East Hotel's owner, Dan Bisa, with Joe's Bar's chef Francesco Balestrieri.

East Hotel director, Dan Bisa, with Joe’s Bar’s chef Francesco Balestrieri. Photo credit: Nathan Lanham.

There’s an emphasis on attention to detail, and ‘heart’. The Joe’s Bar team create everything from ginger beer to limoncello and syrups in-house for cocktails. Using a technique called ‘fat-washing’ they infuse flavours like pancetta with bourbon (for the Bitter Pig cocktail) and pistachio with whiskey.

The wine list has been curated by Fergus McGhie. Photo credit: Nathan Lanham.

The wine list has been curated by Fergus McGhie. Photo credit: Nathan Lanham.

Mount Majura Vineyard’s Fergus McGhie is behind the wine list, which balances Italian wines with a selection of local drops designed to complement the modern Italian menu of Italian-born chef, Francesco Balestrieri. With a focus on using the freshest local produce sourced from within 100km of Canberra, menu highlights include Polpettine di Carne (meat balls); House-made Tuscan Chicken Liver Parfait with pancetta, porcini and crostini; Smoked Burrata with shaved local truffle, EVOO and crusty bread; Lasagne with slow braised deboned pork ribs; and Wagyu Beef Brisket with charred polenta and porcini butter.

Smoked Burrata with shaved local truffle, EVOO and crusty bread. Photo credit: Nathan Lanham.

Smoked Burrata with shaved local truffle, EVOO and crusty bread. Photo credit: Nathan Lanham.

Grab some friends, find yourself a corner and enjoy some big Italian heart at this sexy small bar.

Get 20 more of Canberra’s best bars here.

the essentials

What: Joe’s Bar
Where: East Hotel, 69 Canberra Avenue, Kingston
When: Midday-Late; kitchen: 3pm-10pm
Phone: 6178 0050
Web: joesateast.com

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Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her ‘spare time’, she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She’s done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women.

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