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.

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

Monday, February 1, 2016

Drummond St Carlton: Carlton Wine Room, Masani, and Town Mouse

There’s a nice little corner just a block off Lygon St, if you’d like something a little bit fancy.  Yes, I’m talking about the corner of Faraday and Drummond Streets, and it’s little wonder the Readings Books headquarters is located in this foodie hotspot (well, I understand they like the best down there).

I’ve been to all three of these restaurants over the years, each within hopping distance and sight lines of each other, but see I’ve neglected to include this cluster of quality in this blog.

An error now addressed.

They’re all pretty good, so if you’re in Carlton and can be bothered walking one block from the standard pizza and pasta joints, you’ll find yourself well rewarded.  They also have a very good bakery nearby…

172 - 174 Faraday St, Carlton (Cnr Drummond St) 

I’d typify this as a trattoria in what could best be described as “the artist formerly known as a pokey corner milk bar”.  The floor layout is a bit crowded, on different levels, and they have a “private dining room cellar”.

Food and wine pairing is the key here, with an excellent wine list –as you’d expect from their name – and high end fancy foods (yet another “seasonally” driven menu) that are essentially Italian inspired and feature seafood (I see they have a $1 oyster happy hour).

While I was there, there was some senior copper out for lunch who was under investigation for fraud.  I dunno.  My dining companion recognised him, a bloke with a moustache.  He looked like a copper anyway.

313 Drummond St, Carlton

With its giant street lamp hanging from the roof, this is the family restaurant of the Maisano family and has been around for over thirty years. Set in a beautiful old building, with a wedding reception hall venue upstairs, the tables are overseen by sommelier Kara, the daughter of restauranteur and chef Richard.

I ate beef carpaccio, duckling with French wine, and grappa with my coffee.  Be warned, though, it is pricey.

This joint was the habitué on that day of some guys “in concreting”.  So I guess you get bent coppers at one venue, and then members of la famiglia at the other.

312 Drummond Street, Carlton

I’d always been underwhelmed in passing this venue because of its trendy “bar styling” set up, with high stools, but was encouraged to attend recently and found the food there surprisingly good.

While questioning what sourdough miso might possibly be (“stop being so critical, I’m sure its lovely”), the menu is “lots of little pieces” or “large dishes to share”.  I’m not sure what the trend is here, everyone is doing it, but it probably saves on washing up, lets patrons try a bit of everything, and the relatively small prices sneak up on you as you seamlessly go from one dish to the next and order more drinks by the glass.  That said, I found the prices… reasonable, if not inexpensive.

I completely failed to spot anyone dodgy there, but as I heard one comedian note: ‘You know when you’re on a train, and you’re looking for the crazy person on the carriage, but then everyone looks normal?  And they’re looking at you, and you realise “It’s me, I’m the crazy person!”?’

Hem hem.  Enough said.

Anyway, while you’re at the corner, why not pick up some bread?

178 Faraday St, Carlton VIC 3053

I just found out this is a franchise of a trendy “south of the river bakery”, but it is surprisingly difficult to buy quality bread in Melbourne that ranks with the average baguette en France (in my experience anyway – supermarkets and country Victoria do not cut it, m’dear).  This place also sells pretty good croissants, so you know, if you’re there, it’s almost worth your while popping in.  Be sure your pockets are weighed down with gold coins though (or take a credit card…).

Next edition:
Bread (man)


Kit Fennessy said...

Just found out about "mains to share"; the advantage is for the kitchen, who can send things out as they're done, rather than trying to time everyone's dishes to land at the same time. Tricky! Thanks for the heads up CJ!