The Bottom Line
- Australian delicacies offered here, like crocodile and kangaroo
- Live music on weekends
- Limited wine menu, few Australians
- No wine flights offered
- Uncomfortable seating
- DownUnder Wines and Bistro is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, dinner only on Monday.
- Wine tastings are on Sundays only, during brunch.
- A daily happy hour menu includes mostly non-Australian fare, like wings, hummus, fish tacos and salad.
Guide Review - DownUnder Wine Bar and Bistro
DownUnder Wine Bar and Bistro attracted me because I happen to enjoy Australian wines and we were looking for a good happy hour to enjoy some reds from down under. Unfortunately, there were disappointments on several levels here.
The first impression upon entering was not good. There were cartons and open boxes lying around; no one was working on those. Is that where they keep the inventory and pull from the cartons as they need them? The place has little or no Australian (or other) atmosphere. Most of the tables are high tops, glass table tops on barrels. They are cute, but difficult to sit at, requiring that guests sit somewhat sideways. Not comfortable.
The official website boasts, "We have a wide variety of wines and, of course, specialize in Australian wines." I didn't see the wine list as extensive. There were only two Australian reds available by the glass. We ordered one of each, even though Shiraz is not our first choice. There was only one other Australian red wine on the menu, available by the bottle only. The house wine: a Chardonnay. Trying to stick to the theme, we ordered an appetizer of Crocodile Kabobs ($9). It was a nice novelty item, but be aware that although stated as a plural on the menu, it is only one kabob. I ordered two bruschettas ($7), one Spinach and Artichoke and one Honey Prosciutto Blue. They were fine, but served on thick bread.
Then there was the Build Your Own Cheese Board. The price starts at $5, and you select meats and cheeses at $2 or $3 per item. We ordered three cheeses and three meats. The cheese board was served on a glass plate, not a board, and came with sweet peppers, a handful of dried cranberries, grapes, crackers and a few thin breadsticks. The cracker bread was very good, the bread sticks were stale. I asked about the nuts (the menu indicates that a cheese board is "Served with Crackers, nuts, and fruit") and was told that there weren't any nuts. No nuts? How tough is it to keep fresh nuts in a restaurant? The cheeses were not especially exotic or exciting. Brie, parmesan, goat. The meats were good, if not the leanest I've had.
The dessert of the day was a slice of chocolate cake ($8). I didn't ask if it was made on the premises. It was the best part of the meal.
Although they advertise "true Aussie style" I didn't experience it except for the items on the menu like the crocodile. They also have some kangaroo entrees that I did not try. I don't think I'll get back to DownUnder Wine Bar and Bistro to try them, since there are several fine wine bars around town -- you'll have to let me know how kangaroo items were.
DownUnder Wines & Bistro
1422 W. Warner Road
Gilbert, AZ 85233