Who is Martha? And who is Ray? And why has a cafe set up shop in their house?
Martha Ray’s has transformed what seems like a wide corridor of a Victorian terrace house into a pared down cafe. There’s no sign, no hanging pictures and definitely no owls, bunnies or kitschy memorabilia adorning the white-washed walls. Furniture is an equally muted palate of warm timber and gun-metal steel.
With nothing about the place particularly eye-catching from the street front it’s easy to walk straight past. But Martha Ray’s equally pared back one-page menu is worth a stop.
For lunch they have exactly three sandwiches in addition to the all-day menu of exactly five dishes. I tried the braised pork belly with cabbage and apple slaw stuffed inside a baguette smeared with apple soubise, which is apparently a traditional French white onion sauce ($13).
Though I’ve not tried the meatball or chicken (vego artichoke on request) sandwiches I’m still going to award this pork belly roll the prize ribbon. At 1pm I snatched the last roll from under the nose of at least two other patrons who had been less quick and decisive with placing their orders. And I’m guessing the reason this sandwich sold out so quickly is because the pork was so meltingly tender that you basically could eat it without your dentures in. But better still the sandwich combines the meat with a few crisp shards of cracking, just enough to give each mouthful a snap, crackle and pop without jabbing your jaw with something sharp.
I also requested a half-serve of New England style corn chowder (full serve $11), a rib-sticking soup of sweet sauteed leeks, chunks of ladrons in a creamy potato and corn base. This will be a winner with the cold weather.
Other dishes on the menu include Casa Iberica black pudding, a breakfast roll on the go and fluffy omelettes spied at the next table. Coffee comes courtesy of Costa Noosa coffee while tea is from Storm in a Teacup.
Thanks for having me over Martha and Ray. I’ll be back – save me a pork belly roll please.
Martha Ray’s, 85 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Mon – Fri:7:30 am-3:30 pm
Sat:8:00 am-3:30 pm
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