On the corner of Napier and Kerr, Backstreet Eating is just one block from Brunswick Street and aptly describes itself as "a modern neighbourhood bistro". Open seven days a week for three meals a day, this place seems to offer it all, and there is not much on the menu that doesn't appeal. We seriously considered a Bloody Mary, Mimosa or Bellini with brunch, but my housemate has just started Febfast, and I'm enough of a lush as it is.
Items from the lunch (house-made gnocchi with goat ragu, anyone?) and cheese sections also greatly appealed, but we eventually settled on salmon gravlax for me, and avocado on toast for her, both with scrambled eggs. The food was delivered relatively quickly considering the place was full, and was faultlessly presented, well-cooked and delicious.
|Avocado on toast|
|Salmon gravlax with scrambled eggs|
The coffee is by Espresso Syndicate (a fitting choice for a Fitzroy venue), and was also well-made. The service was impeccable. Our waitress was ever-present but not annoyingly so, she constantly refilled our water glasses, and was quite happy to let us sit around at the end of our meal because we didn't feel like leaving this lovely haven just yet.
My housemate remarked that the main room would be a great lounge room. (You can sit outside at sidewalk tables, but we didn't.) I think she meant the outlook towards the street was lovely - lots of trees - with abundant natural light streaming in across the beautiful Art Deco-style parquetry flooring. The tables and chairs are classic dark wood and black, with leather bill folders and hand-written specials on a wall-mounted blackboard. Overall it's a very schmick, warm and classic European-style venue.
Down a staircase are modern bathrooms with Aesop hand soap (my favourite!), and to the other side, a charcuterie room-cum-delicatessen/shop - which can also be used as a private dining room for up to 16 people, according to the website. This room houses a walk-in hanging meat fridge, amazing-looking cheeses, various chutneys and a few books about charcuterie. A blackboard announces dates of upcoming Charcuterie Making Workshops - another clever use of the space, IMHO.
Backstreet Eating definitely has it together, and comes across as much classier than its street-food sounding name implies.
Update: 9 April 2013
We recently revisited Backstreet to try its dinner fare. This time around, it seemed to have a much stronger French influence - or perhaps I just noticed it more this time?!
The gentleman serving us was most helpful in trying to identify a white wine low in sulfites, providing a taster of one before we settled on another.
The food this time around was good, but sadly not amazing. The dinner menu is strongly based upon meats rather than stretching out their accompanying flavours. The charcuterie plate - comprising house-produced cuts beautifully presented on a wooden breadboard - was found to be rather hard and dry by the friend who ordered it. But we all had a taste, and I quite liked the majority of the cuts.
My goat ragu gnocchi was delicious and perfectly cooked. It was quite hearty and cooked home-style, but with finesse, shown through the light yet slightly chewy state of the gnocchi, the soft and deliciously rich pieces of goat, and the fine strips of pecorino cheese served over the top.
|Gnocchi with goat ragu, peas, mint & pecorino|
The steak special was, again, beautifully presented on a breadboard, and cooked as per requested (medium rare, closer to rare). Unfortunately, its potato accompaniment was not particularly liked, due to its solidity and blandness.
|Steak with jus and potato|
I like Backstreet Eating's commitment to quality produce and was again impressed by its European sophistication. However, our brunch there had been more satisfying, in terms of food and value. Yet, I'm somehow not at all disappointed that I'll "have to" go back for another dinner, to reassess.
Side note: this place would be fantastic for a date - it's cosy, warm, and classy; quiet enough to chat but close to the action of Brunswick Street, should diversion be required!
Note: 12 June 2013
I discovered over this weekend that Backstreet Eating is owned by the same crew that runs Birdman Eating on Gertrude Street. Makes perfect sense really: their fonts are so similar! However, I'm not such a huge fan of Birdman Eating. Read my previous blog post about it here.
Additional notes: 19 July 2013
I was back here last weekend for breakfast, and thought I'd share the pics, as both dishes were delicious!
|Creamy mushrooms, toast and poached eggs (special)|
|Ricotta hotcakes with fig compote|
Update: 11 January 2014
More breakfast pics!
|Avocado, tomato and goats cheese on toast|
|with a side of mushrooms!|
Update: 19 September 2014
More dinner pics!