“We want the place to feel like a home,” says Madja Rahmanovic of HOST, the new Brunswick restaurant she runs with her husband, Nedim. “We want it to feel like we’re hosting a dinner party; we want everyone to feel like they’re in their own little world.”
The Rahmanovics, former owners of Twenty & Six Espresso, bought the Saxon Street site early last year. Turning what was a seafood wholesaler into the cosy, homey space was arduous, but they have succeeded. A small courtyard and dining room are up the front. A big communal table, timber-lined booths and an open kitchen with bar seating occupy the main space.
“It’s hard to make a restaurant look exactly like a home, but there are plenty of booths and other crannies for people to hide away in,” says Rahmanovic.
The menu, by chef Florian Ribul (Enquire Within, Hammer & Tong) is divided into three parts. There are five small dishes (such as grilled mackerel in dashi. And a deep red, rich, whipped blood butter, that tastes like soft black pudding, and comes served with potato crisps for dipping), five large dishes (grilled spiced quail with finger lime; hay-baked celeriac; a mess of pine mushrooms and Jerusalem artichokes); and four desserts, including a cheese course. All fruit and vegetables are sourced from within 50 kilometres of Brunswick, and meat and fish as locally as possible.
“We’re extremely flexible,” says Rahmanovic. “We’ve only been open a week, and we’ve already had four menu changes. We just try to keep it simple and easy and not too fussy. All we want is to give people something special that they know has been treated with respect.”
The wine list leans towards natural and minimal-intervention, but there are plenty of options for those who prefer sulphites. The coffee is made with Small Batch beans and Schulz organic milk. There’s a small cocktail list, but a big list of amaros and vermouths – a nod to their local community.
“We get all our amaros from Mediterranean Wholesalers. We’ve made friends with the guys there, they invite us out the back for tastings,” she says.
In mid-May, HOST will welcome winemaker Cambridge Park Wines to the venue for the first of what will be monthly wine dinners.
4 Saxon Street, Brunswick
Wed to Sun 6pm–late (open for drinks from 5pm)
Fri to Sun 12pm–4pm