“Where are you right now?”
“Of course you are…”
“Yeah, where else would I be?”
Guess which one I am?
Usually if I am not at the Enoteca, The Gem or at the bar at Cutler, I’m here. I’m either drinking some of the Crafty Sunday beers (when it isn’t a Sunday), or having a shot of something something with the owner, Dave.
I have to admit, this may not be the BEST place in Collingwood or Fitzroy, but it is pretty damn good. They consistently try to offer the best quality food for the lowest prices and the crew are all easily excitable, if not welcoming. It is why people line up for breakfast on the weekends or are able to bring in fruits and vegetables that they grow in abundance and have the team do something creative with them.
It’s where all the regulars get to know each other and share beers at the bar when it is meant to be closed.
In fact, it’s the place where everybody knows your name and Ted Danson isn’t balding all over your drink.
The funny thing is, on this particular night, I was at a loose end. I didn’t intend on eating here, but I ended up at the end of the bar with one of the ex-staff, drinking a bottle of wine, trying the first of the Crafty Beers (Beechworth Chestnut Larger) and convinced into a bouillabaisse. I’m pretty sure this baby was only $13.50, on the soupy side, but generously served with perfectly cooked seafood, fragranced with fennel and lended itself to the garlicky squidges of aioli on the crusty ciabatta.
You can’t really ask for more. This dish, like the food, like the company and the staff, is unpretentious, unable to hide behind anything and straight forward.
But you know, I may be biased.
And why is this place an underdog?
Well, for one, it still has the appearance of the ghastly cafe which used to occupy the space. It has no PR (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I am referring to the place close by who shall not be named) and is left in the hands of an overworked twenty-something year old who dreams of bigger things and can reel of countless places in a three block radius who are just as good.
First world problems…
And hey, Michael Ryan, if you’re reading this…on Dave’s list of things to do before he dies is to meet you, the man behind the awesome Provenance. You should go and make him gush next time you’re around.
288 Smith St,
(03) 8415 0700