285 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy VIC 3065
+61 3 9416 2238
Naked For Satan? The latest ‘Stones album? The name of a porno? A Marilyn Manson song? No, no, no. Only the name of a drinking-slash-eating barn that’s risen up the Melbourne foodie charts faster than Ke$ha’s debut single same time last year. It’s mid-December and if you’re a food blogger who has not yet been to Naked, the latest (and well, only) pintxos and vodka bar in town, then you’re pretty much a loser… oh wait… *sigh*
Driving up and down Brunswick St on the last Saturday before Christmas is not an easy feat. Grabbing a sacred German stollen from Dench Bakers halfway through the morning is harder than trying to bowl Jason Gillespie out (we tried, and failed – referring to the stollen, of course). And choosing a lunch spot in Brunswick Street? Talk about impossible! Just as well the closest spot to our parking spot for the afternoon happened to be Naked For Satan. It wasn’t the provocative name that drew us in, nor was it the quirky split-level dining space with more pipes than a plumber’s workshop. No, it was the whole “this is different” thing that drew us in. Here’s what happened:
Basically, you grab yourself a plate from the counter and, working your way from left to right, you grab whatever pintxos takes your fancy. What are pintxos? They’re a simple Basque snack that is not quite a canape, yet not quite a tapas. Basically, you have a slice of home-baked white bread with whatever topping the kitchen decides to adorn it with, and toothpick is speared through the middle to hold everything together.
At $2 a pintxos, you grab a handful to enjoy with your house-infused vodkas (they named the place after Leon Satanovich, a Russian immigrant who apparently distilled vodka in this very building more than 80 years ago, not Lucifer himself) or you can select a few more for a lunch or a dinner that will satisfy. If you happen to come here for lunch on a weekday, the pintxos are 50 cents each which means that you can fill up until your guts explode for less than $10. BARGAIN.
Once you’re done, pop all your toothpicks in the shot glass provided on your table and bring them over to the counter where they’ll charge you on a per-toothpick basis. Yes, I’m sure that some people may be able to get away with popping a couple of toothpicks in their handbags but c’mon, you’d have to be REALLY tight to want to be able to do that. Be cool, folks.
They don’t look particularly filling (photo not to scale, they’re smaller in real life) but trust me, they are. Adam and I shared 14 between us and we were satisfied.
First plate (clockwise from left): Tom Cooper smoked salmon with onion and dill, chilli peppered prawns, scallop and pea puree, seafood with carrot puree and roe, and in the middle, blue vein cheese and crumbed eggplant chip. My favourite from this lot was the ‘seafood’ one which was pretty much a lovely taramasalata smeared on a crunchy bread slice with a smudge of carrot for a flavour contrast and some roe for a textural one. The eggplant chip one wasn’t bad either – the chip may have been cold but whatever, it was perfectly fried – while the sweetness of the scallop and the pea puree on the pintxos on the right complemented each other.
Second plate (differences in photo quality due to experimentation with RAW-ing): Potato tortilla with aioli, scrambled egg with prawn (weird combination but still worked), pork rillette with gherkin and olives and one with a solitary rice ball on it. I thought the latter one was weird – seriously, a rice ball on bread? – but given that it was one of the more popular items that day, I think the dudes who run this place know what they’re doing.
Yes, we got more! The chorizo with goats cheese and green chilli and pumpkin and mushroom ones were also given the thumbs up by the two of us.
Every now and then, a bloke would come around with a tray of fresh, hot pintxos. On offer that day was a lovely, saucy meatball one (which Adam greedily devoured before I even took a photo, that bastard) and a crumbed sardine and tomato one (pictured) which became Adam’s favourite. There was also a lamb meatball one available but the guys on the table next to us (who Adam suspected were mafia dudes) took the last ones.
They even have a baby canoli one! It was crunchy, and filled with chocolate custard. Unfortunately, they were just okay.
What about the drinks? Naked have a few decent beers on tap, lovely coffees (Adam enjoyed a “pretty good” long mac), and even their own ‘twist’ on the Bulmers cider but few people would say ‘no’ to the house-infused vodkas. I, unfortunately, had to say no because 1) it was too early for vodka and 2) I just wanted a beer. Next time.
My drink for the afternoon was the Naked for Satan ale, brewed by the dudes at Matilda Bay. It was a smooth and sweet beer that had refreshing apple and citrus notes. Perfect for Summer.
Naked For Satan. Wow, what a name and what a concept. This good Christian girl has been converted.