Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

Also, "a good day to you, sir/maam" for our American pals, "Ni Hao" to China, and "Здравствуй" to our Russian comrades, "etcetera etcetera and so forth"... (for Yul Brynner).

It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

Want to know more about me? Friend me on facebook, follow me on twitter, or even look up my New Yorker cartoons on instagram! NB; different platforms not all food related)

A big thank you, as always, to my sponsors at Blue Vapours (use them for all your design and advertising needs - we are waiting for your call!).

Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

St Jude’s Cellars

389-391 Brunswick St
Fitzroy VIC 3065


Brunswick St, eh? Gee, I haven’t been down there in ages. And I literally work three blocks from it. For some reason, I always turn left when I walk out Blue Vapours office door: my current theory is that if I turn left it’s down hill, my house is in that direction and Smith St is so much handier (at only a block and a half).

But nothing on Brunswick St has changed, although curiously and conversely absolutely everything has changed. There’s still year ten kids drinking coffee and smoking sly cigarettes outside Italian cafes in their school uniforms, there’s still young men from the country and suburbs toting instruments to gigs at the various bars, even the old bearded hobos playing guitar and busking for a few coins are still there. But I’m old (well, older) now, and fashions have changed… though I did see a guy down there with a flat top with blonde tips, a white windcheater, white high top Nike sneakers and Levi 501 jeans (I had to laugh - he was way over forty!).

Anywho, I was told about St Jude’s by my mate Suze (Hi Suze!), who’d been taken there by her boss David (Hello David!) for lunch and gave it two thumbs up. As always, intrigued by the advice of someone with taste (they do work at groovy architects Heritage Alliance), I took myself out there for dinner last night. Let’s go in and take a look, shall we?

St Jude’s is brought to you by the same people who own Rice Queen, the Panama Dining room (Smith St) and apparently the Veggie bar (Brunswick St - nice website).

Now let’s get this straight; it’s not strictly speaking a restaurant. They’ve got a kitchen, and it’s very good, but they seem to really do “the booze”... as they say in Eastern Europe (ahoj Stanka y Katka!). Hey, this is turning into a “shout-out to my homeys” review. Keep reading, you might be next!

The Booze. Booze, booze, booze. Look at the wine list. Very nice. But they’ve got more. Look at the racks. Someone came in from an office over the road and picked up a dozen bottles of champagne I’d never heard of and they handed them over without a receipt. Spirits. Martinis. A “with drinks-nibbles” section on the menu.

The food is competent, not high art, but the prices are reasonable. I had a baked chicken with parsley sauce entree (that's a "starter" if you're reading this in the US), and the fish of the day for main - grilled Blue Eye on a quinoa, spelt and hazelnut bed with a side salad.

Wines? A Spanish white wine type Albarino (very nice – apparently the Australian Albarino was going great guns until they realized the Spanish suppliers had sent the wrong grape type and it wasn’t Albarino at all), then changed gears to an Australian sauvignon blanc, and then a French "savvy b" to see the difference. I can’t remember the difference, incidentally, because the rest of the night then devolved into a haze.

The décor is all hard surfaces (which I see everywhere); lots of black and white and racks of the booze. A high ceiling in a kind of old warehouse, it's very tasteful. I can’t say there were people falling out the door, it was pretty quiet really, but that whole end of Brunswick St (down near Alexander Parade) has sprouted restaurants and bars where I can’t remember there being that much action. I spoke to one of my publican mates about it, Guy from the Napier Hotel (Hi Guy!)…which was absolutely pumping by the way… who said that the building was cursed and had had serial failed businesses in it. Maybe it is, but I’m crossing my fingers they stay around. The menu advertised what looks like an extremely attractive set menu event at the end of the month (26th June) with five courses and seven matching wines for a tonne. But don't quote me.

So in summary? Go for a wine or cocktail. Maybe skip the main courses and just have the nibbles that go with the drinks. The drinks list gets a rubbery seven tentacles, the food a strong five, five and a half, the decor a six. In total I give St Jude’s a six tentacles plus a couple of suckers out of eight! Enjoy!!

... full text