After six months, Andrew McConnell has moved his Covid-19 pop-up Marion Grocer into a permanent home, just a couple doors down from Marion and Cutler & Co on Gertrude Street. The new shop – rebranded as Morning Market – is loosely based on European food markets (and also inspired by what McConnell keeps in his home pantry).
“It’s a bit of a chef’s dream,” says McConnell. “When deciding what to stock I actually went through my pantry at home. Everything in the store I’d be happy to have. That was the benchmark, but benchmark doesn’t have to mean expensive.”
On minimalist shelves, find alternative milks beside lemon marmalade and hibiscus mixers. There’s also fresh fruit and veg, Asian cooking basics, La Tortilleria tortillas and Tuck Shop Takeaway tomato sauce. And if you’ve tried to hit up Bunnings for tomato seedlings only to find they’re sold out, you can buy them here courtesy of Ramarro Farm – as well as alpine strawberry plants.
Plus, there are some pretty delicious sandwiches. “Our sandwich game is strong,” says McConnell, recommending the old-school salad sanga with sliced beetroot, grated carrot, alfalfa and tarragon mayo. “Even though we’re not putting food on beautiful porcelain plates, we’re still putting just as much effort into creating something for people to enjoy. It’s not just about sating people, it’s about bringing joy to their day.”
There’ll also be fancy, rotating hampers for picknickers. The current one has a seeded baguette and cultured butter; burrata with caper-and-parsley salsa; sliced prosciutto with pickled rockmelon; roast Bannockburn chicken with French breakfast radish; and raspberry tarts with vanilla cream. Plus, there are picnic-perfect Seljak wool blankets and Stanley thermos flasks for sale.
Shades of green pop against the concrete floor, from the sage feature wall (where the bread is stacked), to bundles of broad beans arranged in a pyramid, to a centrepiece of globe artichokes. Citrus fruits are displayed in wooden Rhone Valley wine crates on a marble table, and fresh blooms (including spring snowballs and pink proteas) burst from steel buckets.
When restaurants reopen, Morning Market will share street seating with Marion, so you can soak up Gertrude Street in all its glory. And while taking over the empty space at number 59 was never part of McConnell’s plan, it’s definitely one of Covid’s silver linings.
“If you mentioned in March that this is what we would have been working on for the last six months, I wouldn’t have believed you,” he says. “It wasn’t strategic, it was a response to the environment. We’ve been forced to change, and if anything comes from this and people are shopping local more, that’s a great thing.”
Morning Market is takeaway-only during Melbourne’s stage-four lockdown.
59 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Tue to Sun 8am–3pm