The Incu City Guide series taps tastemakers and locals to give you an insight into the best spots in each city. Full of surprises, these guides are designed to reveal interesting nooks and celebrate iconic spots alike. First up we’ve got Mike Bennie from P&V Wines who we caught up with last month and has enough recommendations to keep us busy all summer. Discover Mike’s favourite eateries, the best place for a BYO natty in town and his favourite spots in his local inner-west community.
Thanks for being with us today Mike. What’s the latest in your world?
The latest is a ute driver fell asleep at the wheel on his way to work and managed to pick out our P&V in Paddington to drive into. Maybe he figured we should be a drive-through venue. Anyway, it seems he wasn’t hurt and no one else was around, but it’s a bit of a blow, literal and figuratively, to a business that is hurting with formal drinking and dining shut down. Aside from that, it’s great seeing how many people are reaching out and supporting each other in tough times and how creativity is being harnessed. I’m really enjoying being part of a dynamic that focuses on silver linings.
2021 has been wild. How has P&V adapted to this year’s many curveballs?
P&V has focused on nurturing staff, keeping them in employment and good health, while alongside enhancing community outreach in supporting indie business we can sell product of; this means working with local bars and restaurants to support their pandemic offerings and products, generally trying to be a place and resource for some respite for people around our neighbourhoods (and further!). We’ve grown with the online demand, and have a bunch of amazing artists, musicians, foreign visa workers (who couldn’t get government support), sommeliers and hospitality legends working additional to and colouring our core crew of wonderful experts who work with us. We love our diverse team.
It’s been great to see businesses rallying around one another. Any other local businesses you’d like to shout out?
Our Inner West locals are life blood to us and likewise the cooperative nature of surrounding businesses – a true community. Clare and team from Bloodwood, Mikey and team from Continental Deli, Pasan and crew from Earl’s Juke Joint and Jacoby’s, the Double Deuce legends have all provided us with great things that work in store/s but also work for them keeping their crews busy enough too. A hit of COVID, if that’s a thing, has been Rising Sun Workshop DIY Ramen packs too; great humans in there making things work as best as possible. Likewise, in the condiments zone, we love Lulu’s, Moon Mart, Rico’s, Hot Luck, and have enjoyed supporting Aboriginal owned and operated Indigearth and Mabu Mabu for their great products. It’s great to see that flourishing. Charity work with Plate It Forward, which also operates Columbo Social on Enmore Road, has been wonderful to participate in too. In Paddington, things are a bit quieter, but we definitely have tucked into things from Saint Peter and our beloved pals at 10 William St. And all this is to name a few…
What are your top three places you’ll be beelining towards once restrictions ease?
I’m stinging to gather with pals and laze around at 10 William St, which is kind of my clubhouse and a great meeting place for a lot of good people. Additionally, a toss-up between a long lunch at Icebergs or Sean’s, both would be ideal and appropriately lavish. Middies of Reschs in the beer garden at The Courthouse pub in Newtown is a non-negotiable. And for something new, I’m hugely keen to get to Chez Dominique at the Whale Inn in Narooma and see what the amazing crew down there have come up with.
What’s your favourite BYO spot in town?
Well, Golden Century was right up there, but hey, things change... I also love Bar Reggio in East Sydney, simple, loud, fun, bring a million bottles, even BYO your own glassware if you care enough. I also like BYO to Camperdown Memorial Rest Park and bringing something good from all the good spots in Newtown/Enmore.
What wine are you bringing?
Cold, light reds. Interesting rose. Farmhouse cider. Cans of Tecate to salt rim and squeeze lime into. A bottle of amaro, chilled. Soda water. That should do.
Favourite spot for a picnic and wine?
On the river at Patonga (where I live part time, and throughout the lockdowns) is probably my favourite spot, but somewhere quiet on the Georges River or down just off the bush right on the water at Gore Creek Reserve, perhaps a bush walk down to Cobblers Beach at Middle Head and get your gear off for a nude picnic. All have merit.
What’s next for P&V?
Getting the front of Paddington fixed! We’re keen to get our masterclasses and events program back up and running and expand on our festivals work. Our bar and Porcine restaurant at Paddington are raring to go – we’d love to get that amazing energy back into the building. At Newtown, our courtyard and our lovely BBQs and tastings are missing too. Come back soon! Importantly, we’re also keen to make sure we keep Paying The Rent and increasing that when we can. We’re looking to more support for our community and others in less fortunate positions around us. We’re always wanting to keep our staff happy and healthy ongoing.