Melbourne’s Napier Quarter opened in the backstreets of Fitzroy in 2016 – a great year for fans of charming all-day cafe-wine-bar hybrids.

It’s the type of venue that feels like it’s been around for decades. Maybe it’s the white-aproned staff, the bluestone exterior or the dark bentwood chairs inside, but the place has a sense of history. It stands out in a city full of minimalist cafes.

This dish embodies one of the menu’s greatest strengths: treating good produce with care and not trying to do too much with it. This is an important idea at Napier Quarter, both because the kitchen is tiny, and because it makes for delicious, timeless food.

“It’s the most ‘us’ dish on the menu. We’ve had to keep it on,” says owner Daniel Lewis. “It’s something that you can have for breakfast, lunch and supper.”

The dish has drawn a cult following, which is impressive considering anchovy toast is found at cafes around the country. It caught the attention of cook, food personality and author of cookbooks Ostro and A Year of Simple Family Food Julia Busuttil Nishimura.

“When I think of a dish that I can’t live without, it has to be Napier Quarter’s anchovy and boiled egg on toast. Arguably it’s simple enough to just make at home, but there is something so wonderful about the way they do it there. I order it every time. Yellow-hued mayonnaise, slices of perfectly boiled eggs topped with anchovies and some herbs on perfectly grilled bread. A squeeze of lemon and you can’t lose.”

Anchovies on toast, by Napier Quarter
Serves 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 7 minutes

Ingredients:
4 slices light rye bread
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
2 tins Cuca anchovies in olive oil
Parsley, to garnish
2 lemons

Mayonnaise
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
500ml blended vegetable and olive oil
Salt, to taste

Green sauce, or salsa verde:
1 clove garlic
100ml olive oil
2 tbsp baby capers
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch coriander
2 tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:
The mayonnaise can be made in a mixer or by hand. First add the egg yolks, mustard and lemon. Mix vigorously until thoroughly churned. Keep mixing and slowly add the oil. If the mixture gets too thick, add a splash of warm water to loosen it. Add salt to taste.

The green sauce can also be made in a mixer or by hand, using a mortar and pestle. If you choose to use a mortar and pestle, first add the garlic and smash. Add a little oil, the capers and herbs and pound for a while. Then gradually add the remaining herbs. Season with the red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. If you use a mixer, add everything but the oil and blitz. Slowly add the oil until it’s all mixed in.

Toast the bread, then spread on the mayonnaise. Slice the egg thinly and spread neatly atop each slice of toast. Spoon a small amount of green sauce on the eggs, then place 3 anchovies on top. Sprinkle each piece of toast with parsley and serve with a cheek of lemon.

This is an extract from The Broadsheet Italian Cookbook, which features 80 essential recipes from Australia’s best restaurants, cafes and bars. Available at shop.broadsheet.com.au.

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