Carlisle Wine Bar
Carlisle's has become a Balaclava landmark in the four years since it opened its doors. Part wine bar, part restaurant, it's the sort of laidback haunt every suburb aspires to - that European-style bistro at the end of the street. It's a place where you're just as welcome dropping in for a glass of wine and a coffee as you are sitting down for a full-blown dinner. Of course, you're also welcome, saddling up to the bar and working through the cocktail list. Whatever your plans, the interior is lovely. Polished timber surfaces combine with red leather banquettes and antique lighting to create a low-key, continental charm. Carlisle's may be a long and narrow space, but they make efficient use of what's available. The staff, meanwhile, are as friendly and helpful as you could hope for - there's no rush choosing from the expansive drinks list. The wine and cocktail list compliments all this low-key ambience just nicely. Granted, the cocktail selection isn't huge, but it's perfectly formed and offers a well-balanced mix of classics. Try the Hemingway Daiquiri, a timeless mix of white Cuban rum, grapefruit juice, lime and maraschino, shaken, strained and served in a martini glass. The wine selection takes in over 50 varieties and is expertly crafted - just the thing to compliment the rustic, Italian menu. If Carlisle's was on your street corner, you'd be spending far less time at home.