A great wine selection, fun cocktails and drinks-friendly food menu make the Running Postman Wine bar another great addition to the blossoming Camberwell wine bar scene.
Location: 526 Camberwell Rd, Camberwell, VIC 3124 Ph: (03) 9889 6988
At first glance, the opening of Camberwell wine bar, the Running Postman, could hardly have happened at a worst time. The Covid pandemic was sweeping the country and Melbourne was sliding in and out of crippling lockdowns.
A lesser business may have folded. However, the team at the Running Postman Wine Bar instead performed one of those famous pivots that kept so many people in jobs. Enterprisingly, they served take out cocktails and ‘special’ runs of some of their more popular snacks. Suddenly, local Camberwell residents limited to a walk round the block were including the new bar in their ‘block’ and grabbing a tray of Meatballs and a Margarita as they passed the door.
Now, with the dark days of lockdowns behind us (fingers crossed) , the Running Postman has settled into the groove it had originally meant to fill – friendly neighbourhood wine bar.
Update: We’re pleased to say that the Running Postman Wine Bar has received an Australian Good Food Guide (AGFG) Readers’ Choice Award 2023 in the Wine Bar category.
What was once a skinny wine shop on the corner of Camberwell Road, has had its interior completely redesigned.
Enter through the front door and you’re in smart, clean dining area. There’s a mix of high and low tables and to the right, a wall of bottles, labelled and ready for sampling. Stairs lead up to a bar on one side and more seating on the another. And if you continue out to the back, there’s a small outside decked area which is a pleasant spot to grab a chilled Pinot Grigio after work on a balmy evening.
Warm lighting, plenty of wood and mellow tones make the venue relaxed, but chic. It’s the kind of establishment where no one would care if you walked in worn jeans, but a pair of expensive earrings and a smart manicure wouldn’t look out of place.
There is one strange detail, though. On two visits, we were placed at a round table slotted into a square booth. This whole round peg in a square hole thing feels weird and makes talking with those sat both next to and opposite you awkward.
I’ve popped in to the Running Postman wine bar a few times now.
On the first couple of occasions, the food was good, honest drink-friendly fare. The Truffle Mushroom and Pea Croquettes ($5ea) had a nice crunch and a lingering earthy truffle flavour. The Hand Cut Herbed Chat Potatoes w/ house-made aioli ($10) went down extremely well with an Aperol Spritz – the aioli rich and garlicky.
Salt ‘N’ Pepper Calamari ($17) is always a winner and this version came dusted with polenta. Interestingly, the triangular pieces of fried squid rested on lick of pumpkin puree. The sweet orange paste was a nice contrast to the crunchy seafood.
The Meat and Cheese Board ($45) was particularly good. A generous selection of cheese and cold cuts with both dried and fresh fruit, nuts, a couple of house-made pickles, bread and 2 types of cracker. In a town where you can barely stagger 20 paces without tripping over a charcuterie board, it was a standout.
So imagine how disappointed we were on our last visit when that same ‘Board hit our table and was really pretty meager.
Another great addition to the local bar scene is Oydis, on High Street, Ashburton.
Rather than a colourful, tempting array of delights from the deli counter, there were 2 unexciting cheeses (nothing soft), 6 slices of pretty average salami and not much more of another cured meat. Totally absent was the appetising fruit of before. There were a lot of overly seasoned nuts and a battalion of olives. The bread was nice enough, but paired with uninspiring water biscuits and grisini.
Now I don’t necessarily expect the kitchen to be slaving away, pickling their own olives and baking za’atar sprinkled lavosh crackers. However, I can open a few packets from my local supermarket onto a wooden board at home. And really, that’s all the ingredients of this sharing platter were. And my Woolies version doesn’t cost me $45.
What’s more, as one of my companions commented, if they were short on supplies, surely they could have nipped over the road to Monaco’s Deli for something a bit more gourmet?
I’m hoping this was simply a bad night and that the memorable Meat and Cheese Board will soon make a return. And I was not the only person thinking this. I was aware of the people seated behind us voicing the same wish.
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Luckily, the Artisan Scotch Egg was a much more exciting prospect. A soft-boiled egg encased in a rich layer of lamb and pork mince, it oozed lusciously onto a double whammy of tangy tomato and sweet pickle sauces. It was decadent and yummy.
Finally, we managed to force down a portion of the very more-ish Zeppole ($18). After all, who can resist light balls of fried dough? Especially when they are paired with strawberries and orange-scented ricotta cream?
For cheese, wine and fabulous Modern Australian food with amazing views of Port Phillip Bay, see our review of Jack Rabbit Winery
Importantly, this wine bar is still a fabulous wine shop. Both the wine list and bottles on display are carefully chosen and show great variety.
But smartly, the Running Postman doesn’t just serve wine.
Though the soul of the original bottle shop lives on in wine stocked shelves lining one of its walls, it’s not all about the grape. Happily, it also stocks a number of beers and strong range of spirits.
Apart from the ever popular Espresso Martini and Margarita, they also rustle up a regular Cocktail of the Week. Also, the team have kept their lockdown-friendly take away cocktails going. This is an inspired decision which makes that walk home across the park all the more enjoyable!
And with Wine Tastings and Cocktail Masterclasses in their diary, they are providing a welcome sense of community.
Whenever we’ve visited the staff have been incredibly accommodating and friendly. And if you’re not sure what to drink, they are happy to offer advice.
And talking of great service, you are always given a warm welcome at The Old Garage – the cafe next door to the Running Postman. For more on this eatery and other Cafes in Camberwell (and nearby), click here.
The Running Postman Wine Bar has weathered the early storm of Covid lockdowns and come through with a grateful and loyal clientelle.
A carefully curated drinks list (including whimsical cocktails) and tasty share plates of crowd-pleasers make it the perfect spot for a cheeky drink on the way home. Or even a full evening spent chatting and grazing with friends.
We just hope they bring back the stellar Meat and Cheese Board!
The team at the Running Postman Wine Bar have expanded their repertoire by adding Monthly Wine Dinners to their calendar.
As Eatabilty writes, their website carries details of ‘A Night In Puglia’ on Tues 22nd August. This entails a 4 course set menu matched with 6 wines for $120 pp.
Now that sounds like a wonderful addition to the local dining options!