Replacing Ici on the corner of Napier and Kerr Streets in Fitzroy, Napier Quarter brings a distinctively European, day-to-night experience to a neighbourhood already spoilt for choice. The cafe and wine bar ignores what’s trending and keeps things classic with rustic cooking, a sophisticated wine list and a casual Parisian ambience.
“In France, Italy and Spain there’s a neighbourhood place like this on every corner,” says new owner Daniel Lewis, who lives across the road. “It’s a place you could easily go to two or three times a week.”
Having opened Pearl in Brisbane’s Woolloongabba, Lewis relocated to Fitzroy four years ago with loose plans to open a wine bar in the area. When he found out by chance Ici’s owners were selling up he didn’t think twice. “I’d had my eye on the space for three years,” says Lewis “and when it came up on the market I had to have it.”
The venue is intimate and relaxed without feeling nostalgic. Retaining much of Ici’s original fit-out, the rebuild by designers Christensen and Jackson uses hanging lights, polished steelwork and white tiling to open up the space to the light. While seating is currently limited, Lewis plans to expand into the building’s courtyard early next year.
The all-day menu by Eileen Horsnell, who worked with Lewis at Pearl and spent time as a pastry chef at Biota and Urbane, focuses on simple pleasures; charcuterie; cheese; and a daily roast. Before noon, drop in for croissants by Loafer and coffee by Allpress. Four-minute boiled eggs are served with asparagus soldiers and Yarra Valley trout roe.
Produce is sourced through quality suppliers including Meatsmith, Grown and Gathered and Calendar Cheese.