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?

Monday, August 1, 2011


300 Smith St, Collingwood VIC 3066‎
(03) 9417 1377‎

So, where do you go when it’s the end of financial year AND you’ve finally sent out the email about your new website? (I speak, of course, about bluevapours.com, you silly person! If you haven’t seen it, go there and check it out… NOW!!).

Well somewhere in Fitzroy, close to work, obviously. But we’ve been everywhere. Wabi Sabi? Nah, done it to death. Half the joints were shut, including Huxtable and Easy Tiger. Even the Chinese joint that’s never ever open was shut (what a surprise!). Press on. But wait a moment! What’s that tune I hear rising from the chorus line? Ah yes:

‘I’ve been undressed by kings
And I’ve seen some things
That a woman’s not supposed to see (a king’s penis?)
I’ve been to paradise
But I’ve never been to Cavallero.’

Cavallero. Bar. Brekky. Brunch. Lunch. Dinner. C’est cool man, and nestled on the mean streets of Collingwood. But what is it? Cavallero? It means horseman in Spanish. Do they serve horse? And there’s a quote from Wind in the Willows on the menu. What is going on? Let’s take a look, shall we?

Cavallero is nestled at the Johnston St end of Smith St, between the artist formally known as Safeway and the one hour photo developers that sells the cheap picture frames. Hardly the top end of town, but discretely far enough from drunky’s corner (near the TAB) to prevent any blatant change begging or general groping as you walk in the door.

I know the bar as the habitué of one of my television working confreres, who has his morning latte there as he reads all the newspapers before going to work. Well, the Herald Sun, anyway. They know him by sight and just make the coffee without him saying anything.

There’s a bar along one wall, with a large antlered deer head looking down at you dramatically over bottles of spirits. There’s a large communal table at the rear, if you miss out on a booth, high ceilings and an arched window that looks like it might have been an archway to the stables back in the olden days.

The shop floor is industrial, the ceilings high, the walls white, like so many places in Fitzroy; a converted shop that may be a hundred year old factory space or warehouse and subsequently a rooming house, gambling den, brothel, butchers and haberdashery in all its various manifestations.

The glass narthex at the front, a kind of recessed door from the original shop, lets tonnes of light into the space and is the architectural highlight.

But what is it? A bar, a breakfast club, a light noshery for brunchenette, a tea time swank-a-thon? Surprisingly, it’s all of the above. As the day progresses, the staff and the offerings change, to make it more of an “every moment of the day we’ve got you covered” kind of feeling.

Breakfast and lunch dishes, ‘Brunch’, are served till five, and then a dinner menu starts at six.

First stop, the bar. Beers on tap, including a very nice porter / dark beer that was highly reminiscent of chocolate. And for the ladies? Bubbles ahoy! We (I managed to sneak a glass) enjoyed a Prosecco, which is a dry sparkling wine from Italy (prosecco means dry, apparently, in Italian – who knew?). And affordable at around thirty bucks and would give many French champagnes a fright.

Truffle infusions seem to feature prominently on the menu, and I wonder if they get them from Tasmania? I bet they do. Hey! No horse on the menu. Gah! What did we have ,and was it any good? Short answers: Food, It was.

It was excellent. Drool-able. I am now wiping down my keyboard.

Jane had the chicken and coleslaw sandwich; they apparently knew about super tasters and which buttons to push. But not just any chicken and coleslaw sandwich: “Herb & parmesan crumbed free-range chicken breast with dill and yoghurt coleslaw.” Enviro, humane, kind of boom-shanka, almost guilt free.

Simone? The tasting board which came with olives, dips, risotto balls, salad, and the most delicious looking terrine.

Me? I had the pan fried barramundi that sat on a bed of hummus (the texture was heavenly), and a parsley, sumac and pomegranate salad. Yum!

Dessert? Cue internal dialogue:

Ring the bell!
Cor, someone is going to end up the size of a gorilla.
Do you have to ruin everything? Just eat it and enjoy it and don’t mention the “f” word.
Saturated fat – oops!

I had the pistachio frangipani tart with crème anglaise – a bit like a crumbly and slightly overcooked muffin (meh!), Sim the candied walnut and chocolate genache tart (hers looked better)… and Jane just had a black coffee because she is good, and pure, and doesn’t like having the nice savoury tastes washed out of her mouth by the cheap prurience of sugar.

So the judgement? Go! Go there soon. It’s a jeans more than a suit place, but they take anyone. If you go for a meal, try and arrive early or late, because it’s just not the sort of place that seems to take bookings. I’m sure you can, you’d just feel like you were overcooking it a bit by making one. Tentacles? Let’s call it a six; it’s not fine dining but casual grazing, but none the less a fine experience for all of that.


Cavallero said...

Thanks for the blog post Kit, glad you enjoyed the trip and we hope to see you again soon. Cavallero Crew

Ange said...

I can't believe you can use the word "narthex" in a sentence!!