No one knows the value of a good mate like the team behind Mongrel. Annie Bingley, Gabriel Escalante-Gafau and Henry Wu's Peruvian-style street-eats concept started as a pop-up operating out of their friends’ kitchens – Naïm, Betty’s Espresso, King Arthur, Ploughman Bar, The Scratch and Wandering Cooks among them.
Now that they’ve settled into their own space on Milton’s Park Road, they’re keen to pay it forward. “Once we settle into our routine we’d love to offer our space up to people if they wanted to do what we did,” Bingley says. "It was an amazing opportunity.”
Since signing the lease for Mongrel in June, the space has undergone a significant renovation. A central cocktail bar was removed, the kitchen extended and a new bar area constructed. M2 Shopfitters helped with design plans and construction.
The new bar was made from wood repurposed from the original as well as a bar top (and keg fridge and glassware) from HooHa Bar’s defunct Colchester Street digs in South Brisbane. It features four taps rotating brews from local craft breweries. “The plan is that we’ll always have a pale ale, an IPA, something a bit weirder and a cider,” Bingley says.
The menu is heavily influenced by chef Gabriel Escalante-Gafau's Peruvian heritage.
“As I've been growing as a chef I’ve realised I can't really escape my background,” he says. Take the green noodles, a Peruvian pesto pasta. “Every time I plate it I smell them and think back to my grandma’s kitchen,” Escalante-Gafau says.
In keeping with the Peruvian influence, and with an eye to sustainability, there is a focus on nose-to-tail dining with lamb’s brain croquette and beef tongue tacos. “I’ve been really impressed,” Bingley says. “I really thought [the croquettes] would be a niche thing but its one of our most popular items.”
A signature, year-round dish will be the mushroom ceviche. It's totally vegan and made with grown-to-order mushrooms from Little Acre in Paddington. It gets to the heart of Mongrel's effort to make sustainable food accessible.
“We want good quality [food] without the wank,” Escalante-Gafau says.
This story was originally published August 20.
1/12 Park Road, Milton
Tue to Sun 12pm–late