Address: 605 New North Rd, Morningside,
Phone: (09) 815 9463
Hours: open Tuesday-Saturday, 5pm to late.
The Morningside end of New North Rd, over the hill from the frenzy of Kingsland, doesn't appear to offer much at first glance. Rather scruffy dairies, mini-markets, and the occasional intriguing restaurant line the street where it passes the Morningside train station.
But it's not all dullness and gloom, at least not as long as Wine Hot is open. This French "apero", or aperitif, bar has been captivating its customers for a few years now and is a very well-kept secret.
It's impeccably French, from owner Julien Le Quere's wonderfully Gallic accent to the Art Deco
fit-out and heavy chandeliers. It's also a lot more impressive than you'd expect to find behind the nondescript front door.
It's excellent for those, including myself, who are slightly timeworn - it's nice and dark inside, so you look fantastic in the shimmering candlelight and twinkling low-level chandelier glints.
This does make reading the menu a bit harder but it's amazing what we'll sacrifice to look better.
The menu is excellent, offering assortments of meats, cheeses and so on accompanied by fresh baguettes. It's very much charcuterie-style with salami and pate options joined by fish, duck, pork and vegetable choices. It's all nicely done, and the service is excellent with smiling faces and prompt attention.
The drinks are worth coming for, too. There's a great, selection of wines from New Zealand, Australia, France, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere. It's encouraging to see a wine list so well thought out, with almost everything available by the glass. If it's a cocktail you want, they've got a small but nicely put together list of those too, mostly on a French theme.
But beer is where Wine Hot really excels. The only tap beers are from Schipper Rock but the bottled selection reads like a who's who of craft beer: Nogne, Ballast Point, Yeastie Boys, Baird, Coronado, Three Boys - it just goes on and on. And if you're tired of lashing back bottles of Affligem Dubbel from an obscure Belgian brewery you can always switch to Newcastle Brown Ale for something different.
All in all then, a bit of a triumph and the last thing I expected to find among the commonplace. Well worth a visit.