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Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?

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There is a new face at Canberra’s high-end food market Verity Lane Market.

Her name is Dear Prudence, and she has a timeless appeal as she takes out an elegant section of the Sydney Building.

But just as the Beatles suggested in their song after which she is named, Dear Prudence has a playful side and a touch of pink whimsy. And she will be open to the public on Thursday.

In keeping with Verity Lane’s ethos of bringing specialist providores under one spacious roof, Dear Prudence is the place you head for wine and all things grape-related.

The bar, heavily inspired by small “hole-in-the-wall” bars of Barcelona, will see a range of vermouths, aperitifs, wine, cocktails brought to the centre of Civic, as well as a short menu of Spanish influenced snacks—with a twist.

“Our take on this concept will offer vermouths, aperitifs, unavailable anywhere else in Canberra and set to sharpen the palates of locals,” says Master Sommelier, Chester Mok, who is curating the beverage list for the bar.

“The wine list has a strong European influence while accentuating the fun of wine by the glass and the cocktail list is fun, light and colourful.”

Chester has an impressive resume, including stints as a chef at Tasmania’s MONA, time as a wine consultant in Jakarta, and ten years on the Canberra dining scene, including coordinating the opening of Monster, time at Akiba, and managing Aubergine.

Now he plans to shake up Canberra complacency when it comes to safe and stock standard wine choices. Instead, Chester is bringing in a stack of lesser-known varietals from Australia and internationally which are worthy of our attention.

The wine list is cleverly broken down into categories which include whites which are either “light and fresh” or “complex and textured”, orange/skin contact, rosés, sparklings, and reds which are either “fruit-driven and bright” or “structured and complex”. Now there is no reason not to find a glass that speaks directly to you.

“It has been a hard job, having to taste everything myself in preparation,” he says with a grin.

Complementary to the unique beverages is a small rotating menu of fun, Spanish-inspired snacks, curated by Gerald Ong who has just wrapped up his extremely popular Verity Lane Market pop-up, Project Enoki.

Dishes reflect Ong’s refined yet light-hearted style and include snacks like Losada pepper and stracciatella, as well as larger plates like Cuca Navajas and XO, Adelaide Hills Triple cream Brie, fig, crackers and pickles and Deda Smokehouse sopressa with pickles.

Also, we want to give thumbs up for the inclusion of a bag of Smiths Crisps to accompany some smoked pimentón. Sometimes simple is perfect when it comes to snacks with wine, is it not?

Dear Prudence will be an easy place to get to know and love. Under the graceful curved arches of the Sydney Building, she has been given a light touch in terms of decor, and her beautiful bare bones have been allowed to shine through.

Chester is in love with the space, which brings a rare and authentically aged aesthetic to the city centre. Layers of paint have been carefully removed to reveal…layers of original paint. The solid concrete walls would have stories to tell if they could talk. And we can’t help but hum the Beatles song as we look around, “The sun is up, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful and so are you, Dear Prudence.”

Of course, the name was chosen by Verity Lane Market founder, and former Australian publisher of Rolling Stone Magazine, Phillip Keir. Dear Prudence was a 1968 Beatles song and “possibly the sunniest song written by John Lennon,” says Phillip.

“The lyrics evoke pure fun—won’t you come out to play? It’s exactly the feeling Prudence will conjure for locals. A fun place to visit after work and before dinner or after dinner for a couple of nightcaps.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Dear Prudence
When: Opening Thursday 4 March, then Tuesday-Saturday 5 pm-late, and open for lunch 12-2 pm Thursday-Saturday
Where: Verity Lane, 50 Northbourne Avenue, Civic
Website: veritylanemarket.com.au

Photography: Lean Timms

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