As one of Australia’s most trusted food writers, Pat Nourse has told us where to eat and why we should do it for almost two decades. Now he’s the creative director of the Melbourne Food and Wine, moving south from Sydney to take on one of Victoria’s top hospitality roles.
Choosing East Brunswick as his new neighbourhood, Nourse has dozens of dining options within three blocks of his new home, so he described Five of the Best’s request for his five favourite local haunts as “brutal”.
“How can I not mention the green beans in tomato sauce at Teta Mona, everyone’s favourite Lebanese soul-food diner?” Nourse writes in his reply. “The coffee at Padre? And that’s before we even consider the question of Nicholson Street or – heaven help me – Sydney Road and the wider wonder of Brunswick proper. What of those juicy, juicy burgers at Juanita Peaches? The wonder that is A1 Bakery? And, back east of Lygon, where should Carlos, the environmental dry-cleaner with a burning admiration for Julia Gillard, feature? Here, then, are the places I’ve been most excited to find (or reconnect with) in the few short weeks I’ve lived in the neighbourhood.”
As part of the new job, Nourse is on the judging panel for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s Hostplus Hospitality Scholarship, giving a young gun in the industry a trip of a lifetime to work around the world at three revered food/drink businesses of their choice. Entries for this unique scholarship close on Wednesday, May 15.
- 90 Albert St, Brunswick East, (03) 8060 0547
- I love Baker Bleu’s bread, I love the romance of Ovens Street, I think the reading material at All Are Welcome is unsettling in the best of ways, and I’ve been a D. Chirico fan for years, but I feel truly grateful to have so excellent a bakery so close to home in the form of Wild Life. Huw Murdoch’s porridge bread, the rye, quite possibly the best hot cross buns in town – there are just so many reasons to like this place. The croissants are really good too, the coffee is as sharp as you’d expect from Market Lane alumni, and they do congee.
- 60 Lygon St, Brunswick East, (03) 9448 8233
- I have four words for you: cacio e pepe butter. Such is the intriguing bent of mind that new chef Charley Snadden-Wilson has brought to the kitchen of the best wine bar north of Brunswick Road. Owner Hannah Green is a gun, her wine list sparkling with personality and shimmering with good taste (just like her playlists, for that matter). Weaponised with Charley’s half chicken with jus gras, or the barbecued savoy cabbage with seaweed butter, it’s a place to be reckoned with anew.
- 116 Lygon St, Brunswick East
- When he isn’t inventing $100 hummus at Bar Saracen, or reinventing Lebanese pizza at The Moor’s Head, Joseph Abboud is overseeing what has to be Australia’s finest Lebanese eatery, his flagship, Rumi. The lightness of those sigara boregi! The crispness of the fried school prawns with tahini sauce! The oohhhh-yeah of the salad of freekeh with sheep’s milk feta, almonds and pomegranate dressing! These guys really know what they’re doing.
- 132 Lygon St, Brunswick East, (03) 9380 5339
- I remember visiting Idda the first month it was open, so it makes me feel decidedly, well, mature, to see that this Sicilian gem has somehow racked up a decade in business already. Its success is no surprise, but I’m so happy to see that Idda wears its years lightly – the welcome is as fresh and zesty as the drinks list. The likes of the cavatelli with pesto Trapanese (that’s the one made from almonds) and the nzalata di casa (a bitey mix of chicory and celery tossed with sultanas), meanwhile, walk the line between restaurant-polish and home-style comfort perfectly.
- 52-54 Lygon St, Brunswick East, (03) 9191 9410
- What’s the point of moving to Melbourne, I ask you, if not to revel in the fact that you can still get a drink after midnight, like a grown-up? And to scratch that itch in this neighbourhood, Romantica comes to the rescue. Still glowing from a sympathetic renovation, it has everything you want in a late-night venue (deep booths, good tunes, low light, a pool table) with things that make it attractive the rest of the time (icy Martinis, hot pizza, wholemeal focaccia with whipped ricotta). The wine list is much better than it strictly needs to be, mixing the best of the global star-gazers (Cotat Sancerre, Le Coste aglianico, Chevillon Burgundy) with some of Victoria’s finest, Jamsheed, Mac Forbes, Timo Mayer and Bill Downie among them. Viva Brunswick East.