It’s bright and sunny in Melbourne today and a thought comes to mind.
“If we were in Sydney today, we might be down at the beach having some fish and chips” I tell Mysaucepan.
“But what do Melbournians do on a beautiful day like this, I mean, it’s not like there’s a beach in every corner you look?” I ask.
“No there isn’t. It’s always cold in Melbourne and that is the reason there are delightful little cafes in every corner you look. The weather might dictate a little bit more of what people eat in Melbourne” she replies.
On our previous trip to Melbourne, we were impressed with some great food and Mysaucepan is keen to check out some cafes she has read about.
“Did you know that Phillipa Sibley is reputed to be one of Australia’s top dessert chefs and she has a restaurant and bar in Brunswick?” she says to me.
“Firstly, I ain’t a fan of desserts and secondly, I have never heard of Phillipa Shapely. Thirdly, does that mean the restaurant only serves desserts?” I ask.
“Of course not. Didn’t you remember seeing her on MasterChef as one of the celebrity chefs challenging the contestants?” she says.
“I read the casual Mediterranean style food at her restaurant is pretty good too and she even has a new cookbook out too” she adds enthusiastically.
So we arrive at Albert street Food & Wine at the corner of Albert street and Sydney road in Brunswick.
The restaurant is a fairly big space with a bar area for dining and and also a store that sells all kinds of gourmet food and wines.
The menu has a Mediterranean slant, with a range of charcuterie, tapas, pizzas, pastas and grilled meats.
You can share small tapas plates and graze through the menu or have the traditional three courses, all at reasonable prices.
Just after we put in our food orders, a complimentary serve of sourdough with pesto butter arrives.
“The bread’s very soft and you can tear it with your hands” the waitress tells us.
Okay, the sourdough wasn’t quite as soft as what our waitress told us but nevertheless, it was very fresh with the rich and creamy pesto butter.
It’s a summer day and Mysaucepan is sipping on crisp and dry a Vinea Marson Rose.
“Does it have to be really that precise or are they having us on?” I ask.
“The egg looks pretty special, don’t you think?” she counters.
Our chicken and mushroom consomme with abalone slivers arrives looking pretty among all the delicate slivers of mushroom and thinly shaved abalone slices.
The light brown broth is poured into the dish at our table and slightly poaches the delicate abalone. It has the distinctive earthy aromas of porcini mushrooms while the wobbly slow cooked egg nestles comfortably in the middle of this delicate dish.
Small slivers of tomatoes give this dish some acidic balance but the gentle yield of the spoon releases the bright orange yolk adding beautiful colour and richness.
We are after a light meal and the simplicity of a Bianca pizza with garlic, rosemary and parmesan is perfect.
The wafer thin crust is light, crispy and I like the subtle hints of garlic, rosemary, parmesan and olive oil.
As we are in the restaurant of “one of Australia’s best dessert chef’s”, Mysaucepan orders the Manjari & Mandarin Marquise with Xmas ice cream.
It arrives on a plate, resembling layered chocolate mousse, rich and dense, balanced by a piquant orange salad.
As it was close to Christmas, the dessert was anointed with a dollop of ice cream with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, all the traditional flavours of Christmas.
It was truly a delightful end to a very light lunch on a bright Melbourne day.
So dear readers, do you have a favourite lunch spot around Melbourne to share with us?
Albert street Food & Wine
Corner of Albert street & 382 Sydney road
Brunswick, Victoria 3056
Tel: + 61 3 8354 6611
Store – Tuesday – Friday 12pm to 11pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am – 11pm
Restaurant & bar – Tuesday to Friday lunch and dinner 12pm to late
Saturday & Sunday breakfast, lunch and dinner 9am to late