Napier Quarter (and Bar Liberty) – Fitzroy – Saturday 16 December 2017 – Dinner

Charcuterie and heirloom tomatoes

Fitzroy continues to be one of the most exciting areas in the country. The impossible-to-keep-up-with openings have softened a touch, but the mainstays of recent years are going from strength to strength. If you add the places in Collingwood, many across the road along Smith Street, you have a vibrancy that is difficult to equal.

2010 Domaine de Roqueforte Petit Salle Clairette from Provence, France and 2015 Alice & Olivier de Moor Chitry Chardonnay from Burgundy, France

Early this evening we start on Johnston Street at Bar Liberty. This wine obsessed bar and restaurant has the versatility we have come to love in modern times. The wine list introduces you to wines that are not common, whether due to the variety, the maker, or the region. Throw in a delicious, but slightly over-peppered cacio e pepe bucatini pasta as a snack to graze on and we are very comfortable indeed.

Bucatini cacio e pepe

I was back at Bar Liberty in early February trying some new wines, and tried out Drinkwell, the new aptly named outdoor bar behind, which is a bit more casual. Tonight however there was more wine drinking to be done over at Napier Quarter.

On a beautiful warm early summer evening, Napier Quarter’s tiny outdoor tables are worth the compromise. A more traditional, but still creative, wine list allowed us to go back to our favoured varieties. We had whiled away the early evening and were approaching sundown, so it was time to order more substantially.

We chose the heirloom tomatoes, the Cuca Spanish anchovies and the charcuterie board. The latter was good value considering its reasonable price, displaying three meats that were a combination of local and overseas cured. The heirloom tomatoes showed off several varieties, textured by chorizo pangrattato. The quality of tomatoes around Australia just continues to grow, and these, drizzled with plenty of quality olive oil, are no exception. I would have been as happy with them on their own.

Cuca Spanish anchovy

The anchovies were the biggest hit though. Simply served on bread with plenty of parsley, a chopped boiled egg, and a mayonnaise style sauce, this is a classic wine bar offering. It’s the kind of dish that you are eating and thinking “we need to make this at home” but we never seem to getting around to it! If only Napier Quarter was around the corner.

Napier Quarter Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

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Bawa – Hawthorn – Numerous Occasions – Lunch

I love free parking. Being used to paying for parking is something that has taken a long time to come to grips with. Luckily these days the car parking apps make it feel like you are not actually paying, and at least you don’t need to stress about constantly having change. I mean my wallet doesn’t even have a pocket for change in the first place!

The free parking at Bunnings is not the only reason I go to Bawa Cafe a fair bit. It helps, but the high standard of food and coffee, and easy nature of the service, are the main reasons.

Most times I go to Bawa with work friends, the superfood salad being a huge hit, through to the counter sandwiches and everything in between. B2 even used to enthusiastically tuck in to some of the larger breakfast dishes on offer. On one of the more recent occasions I ordered the Vietnamese chicken salad and it is one of the tastier, fresh and lively lunch dishes I’ve ordered lately on a work break.

Vietnamese chicken salad, pickled carrot, wombok, glass noodles, nam jim, fried tofu, herbs, roast peanuts

Today is the first time Catherine has come along and I have decided to indulge in the soft tacos with pork belly. As you can imagine, the combination makes for an uppercut punch of rich flavours that are mildly softened by the slaw and avocado. This is yet another dish I “would go back for” but it is a special and I always seem to order new things here.

Soft tacos, twice cooked pork belly, slaw, green chili salsa, fried eggs, avocado

Catherine tries another of the specials. This one is the marinated heirloom tomatoes with a host of accompaniments. The poached eggs play their part by oozing yolk to provide an additional sauce; jamon and mozzarella figure prominently, and ricotta and basil finish it off. The natural question is why haven’t we been here together earlier?

Marinated heirloom tomatoes, whipped ricotta, basil, mozzarella, toast, crispy jamon, poached egg

Bawa punches above its weight given the location backing on to Bunnings on a nondescript part of Burwood Road. What is assured is that these days a trip there doesn’t need to feature a detour through Bunnings, and the sausage sizzle out front is a far poorer cousin!

Bawa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato