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

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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.

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Albert St Food & Wine

Corner of Albert St and (382) Sydney Rd
Brunswick VIC 3056
Telephone (03) 8354 6600
Fax (03) 8354 6611
Email: info@albertst.com.au
Website: www.albertst.com.au

Yesterday found me traipsing up to Sydney Rd, Brunswick, for a catch up with an old pal o’ mine (See? I do go to places outside my usual one kilometer radius from work and home), and hasn’t that neck of the woods changed dramatically over the last few years?

It’s kind of like what Brunswick St (Fitzroy) used to be like in the 90’s; cafes, pubs, fish and chip shops with a healthy dose of opp shops and discount warehouse scenarios.

This is absolutely no news to anyone who lives around there, like the Barkly Square (aka the Sparkly Bear) set, hipsters like Sim (who lives over a shoe shop) or Pauly P.  You know... skinny people. Groovers.

Of course Sydney Rd hasn’t always been like that. As my wine drinking pal told me yesterday, there’s a hard core base of locals – predominantly Lebanese – who aren’t going anywhere (something like the Greeks of Abbotsford).

My confrere (who will remain nameless in case he was supposed to be at work) is also going nowhere, having been born and bred in Brunswick, remembering a golden childhood of his Dad’s shop and dreaming of living in a double storey place on Sydney Road when he was a stripling youth in shorts (“I thought, I can make a fire and open a can of beetroot, I’m moving there”).

And why would you move away? The old school residents own their own homes, bought back in the day when it was cheap, and own the buildings that house their businesses. It just happens that Brunswick, like so much of the inner city area, is becoming affluent beyond the dreams of Croesus.

But with that “oh so coolness” comes a kind of tepid blandness: like Fitzroy, Brunswick is starting to get ironed into a moneyed uniformity.

Which brings me neatly to Albert St Food and Wine.

My man on the ground chose it, and it’s nice. Carafes of Mornington Peninsula “Cardonnay” (the Haitch is silent / no it’s not / alright then you bunch of shunts!*), an extensive wine list, a tasty chicken terrine that came with pickled mushrooms, a charcuterie selection... though I’m told by the staff that their real strength is desserts.

Still, it is “just another one”, if you know what I mean. I think the bar has been raised so high, that another industrial fit out with hard surfaces, a “seasonal” produce menu, salami and good wine list just doesn’t make an impression anymore. It’s like all these places are becoming one place, like I’m in a foreign city like Sydney - not Sydney Rd.

I’m not complaining, it must just be like going to see hookers regularly. After a while, taking your gear off and doing a few tricks isn’t enough. You need to be an amputee, or cross dresser or something after a while to deal with jaded appetites and palates (Gosh, these reviews are getting bluer and bluer – the last one referenced drugs, this one prostitutes! Tsk! Naughty).

Still, all in all, a nice outing and – if you’re on Sydney Rd and feeling peckish, you could do worse. A strong six tentacles out of eight.

*Kath and Kim


Ange - PacMags said...

I liked it - though was surprised how ritzy is was!