Wandering amid its spacious surrounds – marked by stripped floorboards filled with round tables, hanging ‘cone of silence’-esque lights and an expansive wall of wines – Albert St Food & Wine’s smallgoods case looks like a Duchamp art exhibit behind the bar, as the meats nervously await their fate at the hands of the industrial meat slicer.
The space’s Executive Chef is renowned international pastry guru Philippa Sibley (Harvey’s in London, France’s three-starred La Cote Saint Jacques, Est Est Est, Luxe, Ondine) and as such, you can expect a range of gourmand delights. Think spatchcock quail, grilled fennel, Bois Bourdran, an Albert St Speciale Pizza (roasted peppers, pork and fennel sausage, smoked mozzarella), and saffron gnocchi with braised veal, broad beans and sage. Sibley’s sweet specialities, featured in her recent cookbook PS Desserts, deliver Amoretti semi-fredo, roasted apricots, truffled honey panna cotta, candied cashews and the cherry clafoutif pistachio ice cream.
Albert St Food & Wine’s founders and managers Stuart Brookshaw and Ruth Giffney also bring a wealth of experience to the fore. Inspired by “rustic Italian enotecas, Spanish bodegas, baby bistros and food stores such as Dean & Deluca in New York”, both have successfully managed leading restaurants around the world. Indeed, Giffney has done time at L’odeon and Bluebird London, Coast Sydney and Longrain, while Brookshaw – a formally trained Sommelier with origins at UK Conran Group – was General Manager at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, and Salt at the Kirkton with Luke Mangan.
Featuring an inclusive wine list compiled by Brookshaw, reds and whites are sourced from Italy (Alto Adige), France (Loire Valley) and Spain, and include a bottling of local Australian favourites. A range of craft beers from the Mornington Peninsula, plus 2 Brothers Taxi pilsner and Bridge Road Australian Pale from Beechworth are also on offer. International brews include Moritz Lager from Spain and American drop Sierra Nevada.
On tap you’ll find Brunswick Bitter, the latest brew from nearby Thunder Road Brewing Company, plus Trumer Pils and Napoleon & Co Pear Cider Draught. Enjoy a tipple during the summer months out in the 35-head courtyard space that looks out onto Albert Street. Meanwhile, the food store on the other side of the bar stocks all the good gear.
Rummage through Great Southern organic truffle oil, 5 Senses coffee beans, Mossvale blue cheese, Le Rustique camembert from France and Fudge by Rich. Or try Michel's products and Harris Smokehouse salmon, ocean trout and kingfish provisions. The teeny Blooming Marvellous macadamia nut pudding will provide the self-indulgent with gourmet Christmas treat.
Albert St Food & Wine
Corner of Albert Street & 382 Sydney Road, Brunswick
(03) 8354 6600