251 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy VIC 3065
+61 3 9416 2001
As the designated foodie of the Libby-Marty coupling, it’s usually me who comes up with dining ideas whenever we hang out. It’s not to say that Marty doesn’t appreciate his food – he does, and he’s probably a better cook than I am, ironically enough – but when it comes to finding places to eat, the boy usually leaves it up to me. Of course, as an ex-Melburnian, Marty isn’t completely clueless when it comes to good places to eat as he has introduced me to a few decent places, Chu The and Dong Ba to name a few. Now, it’s time to add Brunswick Street Alimentari to that list.
Having discovered this place serendipitously with an ex-girlfriend a few years ago, Marty has many times told me of this awesome brunch venue on Brunswick Street during our late night conversations. So when his plane touched down in Melbourne a few Friday mornings ago and with several hours to kill before lunch, we decided to tram it to Brunswick Street for breakfast.
The lunch options (from what I can recall, there were a variety of dishes from Italian meatballs to scrumptious pasta dishes) sounded amazing but sadly, we were too early for lunch so we had to settle for the breakfast menu. To be honest, none of the breakfast options really jumped out at me but in the end, I chose the corn cakes with avocado salsa, bacon and poached egg ($15).
The corn cakes, so sweet and crunchy, contrasted beautifully with the crispy, salty bacon and the creamy cubes of avocado. Two perfectly poached eggs, when cracked, formed a silky river down the mountain of corn holding everything together. My only complaint would be that the corn cakes were sweeter than what I’m used to and subsequently, I wished that I had asked for extra bacon on the side. Marty, on the other hand, loved it – maybe even more than his own dish.
He had the deli breakfast ($16) which consisted of free-range eggs (he had his poached, too) on toast, bacon, Italian pork sausages and baked beans. Being a sodium fiend, this was probably a dish that, on paper, would have appealed more to my senses than the corn cakes (but I would have omitted the baked beans as I’m not a fan). After having a bite of the tiny, insipid Italian sausages, I was glad that I did not choose this dish – they were nothing like the beautifully coarse and flavoursome salsiccia sausages et al that I’m used to having. Hell, a Coles BBQ sausage had more depth and flavour.
As we paid for our meal at the counter, we were greeted by rows of baguettes and sandwiches that begged for our attention. In hindsight, I wish we had ordered a baguette each instead for they looked better than our breakfasts (which weren’t, by any standards, bad but they didn’t sate us). Not saying that they were awful, but given that Marty kept going on about how good this place was, I expected a little more. Still, I decided to come back here a few weekends later to give it another go…
So the other day, I plonked myself by the window and enjoyed a roast beef, caramelised onion, cheese, chutney, aioli, roquette sandwich ($10.50), which was cut into half and presented in a little basket. Cute. I liked my sandwich, which was presented between two luscious slices of sourdough, more than my and Marty’s breakfast from the other time and I devoured it eagerly. They were very generous with the roast beef slices which were tender, with just a small amount of fat lining each slice and all the trimmings – the creamy aioli, the peppery roquette leaves, the sweet tomato chutney and onions and the salty cheese proved to be Oscar-worthy supporting actors. Delicious, and completely made up for the only-just-okay breakfast last time.
As I was paying for my sandwich, my eyes caught sight of a row of pork and fennel lasagnes in containers ($15), ready to be bought for takeaway. The lasagnes were pretty much cooked and all you had to do was nuked them in the microwave. Given that I had nothing to eat for lunch at work the next day and not wanting to eat yet another ham and cheese sandwich, or purchase an insipid chicken and avocado pasta salad from the cafe around the corner, I decided to buy myself a container. I wish I could say that this lasagne was the best thing ever – and certainly the idea of a pork and fennel lasagne is amaze-balls – but sadly, it wasn’t. The pork and fennel ragu was lovely on its own, but they were stingy with it – only a paper-thin layer was sandwiched between the bottom sheet and the sheet on top of it. Plus, the pasta sheets and béchamel sauce smoothered it completely so you could barely taste any pork when eating a spoonful of lasagne. Great concept, but not so great execution.
I really wanted to love this place – I love the cozy, steezy atmosphere and I love eating the rows of fresh deli produce and ready-to-eat meals on the counter as soon as you walk in. Unfortunately, the breakfast meals did not WOW me so I would be hard-pressed to come back here given the choice of 10 billion other (and probably better) breakfast-specialising eateries on Brunswick Street. That said, I won’t rule out having lunch here as the hot dishes available for lunch do sound fantastic. And so do the other sandwiches and baguettes. Yum.