In Fitzroy, it’s another day, another new cafe….
Backstreet Cafe is the new project from the people behind Birdman Eating and it takes some of what’s great about that Fitzroy stalwart and extends it beyond – or more precisely below. More on that later.
The cafe is located in a corner spot in amongst residential premises, though it’s not exactly a ‘backstreet’ as such because it’s right on the popular Napier Street bike path. Prime position is definitely via the street front tables, breezy yet shaded by a wooden trellised roof and an open view of the dining room within. Street side also provides great opportunities for style watching, particularly for the cycle chic ambling past.
The inside decor is almost too sleek for Fitzroy – everything is shiny bronze and black and it all matches :–) I particularly liked the laser cut geometry of the unvarnished wooden floor. Please don’t wear stiletto heels inside ladies!
The daytime menu ranges from traditional breakfast-y options like baked eggs, muesli and porridge but done with a twist, to more lunchtime fare like sandwiches and salads.
If you’re a meat eater then may I steer you towards something cured, smoked or salted. Why? Again, more on that later.
For lunch I chose the Salty Pork Roll with green olive tapenade ($9.50) which was a soft white roll containing slices of porky, salty, fatty deliciousness. The tapenade heightened the saltiness of the sandwich while lending a sharpness and piquancy to every bite. While I wouldn’t hesitate to return for that roll I overheard one of the staff highly recommending the Golden Muffin (sausage, fried egg, scormoza and tomato sauce) so that’s where I’ll be going next time.
For dessert the friendly waitress told me that the avocado brulee was amazing ($11.50). A perfectly crisp burnt sugar lid covered the pot of smooth green-tinged custard and I liked the Birdman Eating-esque presentation of the musical note sheet. A sharp crack with the spoon revealed a distinctly avocado flavoured custard (so slightly odd) but with a hint of citrus and flecked with vanilla bean seeds (so more traditional). I’m not sure whether I’d repeat the experience but it was worth trying.
Other items from the menu jumped out at me – a pomegranate tabbouleh, braised chickpeas, pork and saffron and kassler, grunkohl, toast and sous-vide egg will all be taste-tested at some stage. I’m not sure whether the dinner menu will be the same or not but I’ll soon find out as they’re hoping to open for dinner from next week along with the grant of their liquor licence.
Besides the fact that Backstreet will be opening 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the most exciting aspect of the cafe is down the stairs. Not the toilets to the right, but the providore and meat fridge to the left.
Yes, salivate against the temperature controlled unit filled with hanging house-made charcuterie! Sadly none of the cold cuts will be able to be sold as take away (I did plant the idea of a Fitzroy-based cured meat black market) but in about 2 weeks there will be other items you can take home with you – jars of preserves, tins of anchovies, Calasparra paella rice, homemade sausages and a beaut idea for takeaway lasagne. Basically you pay a deposit for the ceramic dish that the lasagne comes in and when you return the dish you receive your deposit back. Though if it’s a Le Creuset I might just decide to keep it (and forfeit the deposit).
I’m really looking forward to raiding that food store and trying out Backstreet Cafe morning, noon and night. Welcome to my backstreet!
Backstreet Cafe, 152 Kerr St, Fitzroy +61 3 9417 1212