Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Exploring Brunswick (East)

Brunswick street art

This post is an overdue hangover from my recent Amnesty Fortnight. I've been to a few places in Brunswick/Brunswick East recently, so here they all are...

Brunswick street art

Sugardough Panificio and Patisserie
163 Lygon Street, Brunswick East (map)
9380 4060


It was a Saturday morning and Mum and Dad swung past to pick me up so we could all go market shopping together (aw!). A few minutes into the journey it dawned on me: "Hey wait, we're heading north! But I was going to see if there was any sel de fleur at The Essential Ingredient for the salted caramel and chocolate ganache tart I'm attempting tomorrow!"

Aha, but we weren't going to Prahran Market, they informed me. We were going to the Queen Vic, but first they wanted to take me to an undisclosed location for brunch. The location turned out to be Sugardough Panificio and Patisserie, a place Mum recently discovered by following her nose (literally - the smell of freshly baked pastries was hypnotic).


As the name suggests, it's a bakery that embraces both Italian and French style breads and pastries. As well as being a bustling cafe, there was a near-constant queue of people wanting to buy bread - loved the look of these baguettes in their little wooden bin.

Sugardough baguettesSugardough cakes

Dad and I shared a bacon and egg panino, which featured excellent bread (natch), tasty relish and the yellowed yolks I've seen in ages.

Sugardough panino

Mum ordered a bombolone, filled with crema pasticcera. It was very good, one of the best I've tasted in Australia.

Sugardough bomboloneSugardough cornetti

They also sell proper cornetti! The Italian cousin to the croissant, the cornetto is sweeter, less buttery/flaky, and more likely to be filled with crema or marmellata than dark chocolate (see an excellent article on croissants vs cornetti here). They're brilliant. They taste just like Italy. :)

Sugardough pastries

Wicked of us I know, but we also bought a slice of this delectable-looking sweetened ricotta and nutella crostata, to take away and eat later that afternoon. It was bloody lovely.

Sugardough crostata

Robbie's Stein
99 Sydney Road, Brunswick (map)
9388 9817

The following weekend I was back in Brunswick, helping CD inspect rental terraces. We walked through the open door into the first place, only to come across a gentleman sitting on the floor, fixing a drawer with a screwdriver. We greeted him somewhat uncertainly, asking where the real estate agent was. He politely informed us that he was the new tenant, and had been living there for the last three weeks.

"Oh. ... OH. So we're standing in your hallway then. I suppose we'd better go. Terribly sorry." I dithered, à la Hugh Grant. (Actually, if my life WERE a Hugh Grant movie, accidentally trespassing into a guy's house would have been a great/awful romantic comedy premise.)

We had lunch at Robbie's Stein to recover.

Robbie's Stein

As well as being a restaurant and wine bar, Robbie's Stein is a fish and chippery. It's one of CD's favourite places, so she wanted to show it to me. I loved the interior, especially the gorgeous pressed ceilings.

Robbie's Stein

CD ordered bacon and eggs but I wanted something fishy. I ordered and enjoyed the fresh and tasty lemongrass and coriander fish baguette with cucumber, lettuce, tomato and spicy peanut sauce ($15).

Fish burger

Mr Wilkinson
295 Lygon Street, East Brunswick (map)
9388 8578

Mr Wilkinson

From my selfish perspective the best thing about CD moving to Brunswick is that I'll have a close friend living there, so plenty of excuses to explore the surrounding bars and restaurants! Hopefully she'll be living close enough to Mr Wilkinson for it to be her local...

Mr Wilkinson

Mr Wilkinson is an effortlessly fabulous wine bar on Lygon Street. It's named after Thomas Wilkinson, the man who founded the suburb of Brunswick over 150 years ago. I found out about the bar from the lovely Lucy from The Design Files, whose partner is one of the owners. I dropped in there for a pre-Hellenic Republic glass of wine one Sunday evening and was suitably impressed. Beautiful but unaffected.

Mr Wilkinson

I just love the look of the place, particularly the use of lighting and natural light, and our table made from a repurposed wooden shutter door. As well as a carefully thought out wine, beers and booze list, a couple of snacks (olives and light tapas) are on the menu. As I said, we only had time to glug one glass of wine before our dinner reservation - but I look forward to returning sometime soon.

Mr Wilkinson

Hellenic Republic
434 Lygon Street, Brunswick East (map)
9381 1222

Hellenic Republic

For my birthday this year my zia P and her partner M, both fans of the blog, informed me that their birthday present would be buying Melbourne Gastronome dinner at the yet-to-be-visited venue of her choice! (I ask you, is there any better present for a food blogger??) :)

My venue of choice was Hellenic Republic (based chiefly on how amazing the kefalograviera saganki looked on Where's the Beef)!

Hellenic Republic

A contrast to Calombaris' slick CBD Press Club, Hellenic Republic is all friendly, rustic white-washed walls and blue-and-white decor. An Evil Eye on the wall kept close surveillance on us as we ate our meal.

Even though everyone had told us not to, warning that there'd be way too much food, zia P and M insisted we order one of the Trapezi banquets, so that we'd get the full treatment. We ordered the Trapezi Beta, at $59.50 per head.

Hellenic Republic

This is the kefalograviera saganaki, sinfully fried with sweet peppered figs. It tasted even better than it looks, if that's even possible. Olives and toursi (pickled vegetables) in the background.

Kafalograviera saganaki

The grilled kalamari was beautifully simple, and simply beautiful.


The taramosalata ($10) wasn't part of the set menu, but we ordered it as well because we'd heard good things. Somewhat unusually, it was made from white roe (pictured on the left, next to the dolmathakia and Greek salad). I'm really glad we ordered it: the taramosalata was my second-favourite item after the saganaki.

Taramosalata and dolmathakia

For mains, we had silverbeet, spanakopita and a seafood youvetsi (stew) not on the regular menu, and some lamb on the spit served with chips. The lamb was delicious but by the time it arrived we were all getting horribly full...

Silverbeet, spanakopita, seafood youvetsiLamb off the spit and chips

As well as a fruit platter, dessert consisted of a bowl of loukoumades donuts and a risogalo (rice pudding), then a piece of walnut cake (complete with birthday candle!).

Loukoumades and risogaloHellenic Republic walnut cake

A big GRAZIE to zia P and M for taking me out for a belated birthday dinner! xx

Hellenic Republic courtyard


Jess Ho said...

Oh, Sugardough...yes. Yes, YES! I remember days when I sat in my friend's backyard after we would fetch a baguette, olive loaf and any other and eat it with butter and salt under their grape tree.

As with Mr Wilkinson, I can't believe I haven't gone. My friends live right next door to it, but I guess we're too busy scaling roofs.

Johanna GGG said...

Brunswick is such a happening place - I love sugardough and I have recently been to hellenic republic and agree with you about the saganaki being heavenly - and your photos are just gorgeous and evocative

Ange said...

I've lived in Brunswick for years now & love all of the new places popping up every other week it seems. Big fan of Sugardough & have a big booking for Hellenic Republic in a couple of weeks - absolutely cant wait & your review sounds fantastic - will be taking some of your suggestions for sure!

CD said...

Ooh! Dear, your post has made me even more excited about Brunswick than I was before (if that is possible?!) And i will definitely be visiting Mr Wilkinson! Next on our list should be Each Peach & A Minor Place ...

CD xx

Anonymous said...

ayeffBrilliant! I shall try them all! (why isn't Northcote more like E. Brunswick I ask you! Am I missing it!)

claire said...

Hey Jess. I wanna go back to Sugardough soon and try one of their proper menu items (but who am I kidding, I'll get lured by pastries).
Oh, and I'll take you to Mr Wilkinson some time and introduce you to Lucy. She's a gem.

Thanks Johanna! My one complaint with my camera is that it starts to fall apart as soon as the lighting gets dim. But I do love my macro. :)

Ooh enjoy HR, Ange! Be sure to try the saganaki, the taramosalata and the lamb off the spit.

Yay CD! Can't wait to explore your soon-to-be-locals (though I've already been to A Minor Place). Fingers crossed for the rental application! xx

Thanks Essjayeff. Mind you, there are some rather lovely places in Northcote (PML and Otsumami being my favourites!)

Zia P said...

So happy you enjoyed the Hellenic Republic feast! The East Brunswick end of Lygon Street also has some rather fine clothing/accessories shops that beckon (before going out to a large meal..)

Pablo said...

Hey, just moved into the area and next time you're around check out Atticus Finch, just near Rumi, for an awesome selection of boutique wines and beers....nice warm feel too.....and gotta agree, that saganaki is to die for!

Anonymous said...

How has the coffee place been missed in this??? They roast in house like all the good places (St.Ali, Auction Rooms, BBB, Atomica) and they make a great latte.

matt r said...

..and for those who might have noticed the slow transformation of an old sandwich shop on nicholson st, (nestled between some steel fabricators) 'Pope Joan' has finally opened!...excellent coffee, interesting menu - undoubtedly a new regular for the east brunnie locals..