Feelin’ fine at Heartattack and Vine

Feelin’ fine at Heartattack and Vine
Katie Johnson

Amid the hustle of the Thursday lunch rush, Heartattack and Vine owner Nathen Doyle was the calm in the eye of the storm.

In between questions from Inner City News he was bantering with staff, greeting regulars and running orders with the kind of confidence you acquire from more than 15 years of hospitality experience.

“We have a very strong regular clientele who I’ve gotten to know well over the years,” Mr Doyle said as he waved to a customer entering the shop.

“The real focus for us is to be nice people, the generosity of hospitality is what we’re all about.”

This personal, European style of service is what the all-day bar and café prides itself on.

Opening up in 2014, the business was started by Nathen and his business partners Jono Hill, Hootan Heydari and Emily Bitto after a trip to Italy and Spain inspired them.

“Emily and Hootan fell in love with the simplicity of the service over there – you can come in at any time of day, 7am to 11pm and get a coffee,” Mr Doyle said.

“You sit in one of these neighbourhood bars and read a book, or get a drink and some nibbles before you go to the cinema or to dinner, any time of day.”

Keeping with its European roots, Heartattack and Vine offers simple breakfasts, hearty lunches, and long relaxed evenings of drinking and snacking.

The night menu is based around Cicchetti – a Venetian style of bar food similar to tapas –which is intended for grazing, sharing or feasting.

“When you go to Venice you go to these little bars and they have a variety of things on toast,” Mr Doyle said.

“You come up to the bar to pick and choose and everything is somewhere between 4.50 and 8 bucks.”

The menu boasts items such as oysters, salads, rolls and pastries, but the all-time cult classic is the slow roast Porchetta sandwich.

“It’s as happy as meat can be, it’s all organic, free range pork from Hagen’s organic butcher,” Mr Doyle said.

“I’ve had this place for seven years and let’s just say I’ve had my fair share of those sandwiches.”

For customers walking passed the shop, they’ll notice the distinctive gold and blue logo of a mountain out at sea.

Inspired by the Tom Waits song the business is named after, Mr Doyle said the logo was designed by local artist Adam Paratta.

“We wanted to steer away from anything heart-related, so the story he created was about a man who gets his heart broken and takes to the ocean in a boat,” Mr Doyle said.

“The ‘A’ from heart attack and the ‘V’ for vine also work as the reflection of the mountain in the ocean.”

The café slash bar is just coming back to life after lockdown, but Mr Doyle said that at the height of COVID they had to re-brand to make ends meet.

“We had a wine shop and online grocery store and were delivering coffees and sandwiches around Carlton,” Mr Doyle said.
“It stemmed from the fact that people couldn’t get things like tinned tomatoes, toilet paper and pasta at the supermarkets so we allowed people to buy our stuff because we had access to wholesalers.”

“It’s starting to take shape again after the hectic time of COVID, but people’s patterns have changed and the street hasn’t bounced back completely.”

When asked about the key to having a successful business on Lygon St, Mr Doyle said it was simple.

“Value your regulars, have clear core values.”

Almost on cue, long-time customer Jess McGuire, who has been coming in since the bar opened, paused on her way out of the restaurant to ask if Inner City News was writing an article.

“Just so you know the bocconcini roll is best thing I’ve ever eaten,” she said.

“I’ve had tomato before, I’ve had mozzarella before but never have they been combined in such a way to blow my mind.”

Visit Heartattack and Vine at 329 Lygon St or at heartattackandvine.com.au •

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