The Fitzroy Beer Garden is a place for locals. On Sunday Beat Eats was treated to a superb late lunch on the sun spectacled beer garden that boasts an array of large tables placed with casual elegance around the tree and fern drenched garden.
Head chef Chris ‘Sparkles’ Marchant is quiet softly spoken man with a very friendly face and when he talks about the food that comes from his kitchen you can’t help but share his enthusiasm.
“I really struggle to put a specific label on our menu. It’s about good food at reasonable price that lends itself to sharing and drinking. I don’t want to call ‘it pub grub’ and I don’t want to call it ‘bar food’ because it is more than that.”
On our visit Beats Eats ate from the A Bit Hungry section of the menu: Warm Pretzel with Mustard ($4), Frank’s Hot Wings & Blue Cheese Sauce ($8) and Walnut Artichoke Salad ($6). Off the Hungry section we ate the Mussels & Fries cooked with chilli, garlic & white wine ($12) and The Famous Fat Eddy burger with a double patty, cheese, bacon, house made ‘slaw’ and pickles ($14).
The Famous Fat Eddy (pictured above) is a supreme sized meal but despite its two patties and generous slaw the taste is so morish that one member of the Beat Eats team considered ordering another one. Marchant explains what how he achieves such a delicious meal, “The pattie itself, like all our components are made on site with fresh mince and even some cheese worked into the pattie just to make it a bit richer and to keep that moistness. The homemade coleslaw is red cabbage, white cabbage, carrot, red onion and we do our own dressing. It is really important to me that everything is made from the bottom up in the kitchen – all our own dressings and sauces,” explains Marchant.
The bun that the burger comes in is good old fashioned white bread roll not brioche as seems to be the formula at many eateries that offer burgers.
“I think not using a brioche bun for The Fat Eddy is almost a point of difference.” Chuckles Marchant before adding, “Everywhere there’s brioche buns but I actually like a nice white bread roll so that’s what we use.”
The other main dish that we sampled, Mussels & Fries cooked with chilli, garlic & white wine, was the perfect match to The Fitzroy Beer Garden’s cool and leafy courtyard. The broth created by the mussel’s juices and the white wine is perfect to have a wad of crinkle cut fat chips dipped into it.
“My favourite dish is the mussels and chips it’s one of those dishes that when I serve it I get tingles – most chefs have a dish that they love and this is the one that makes me feel like a chef and when I see the bowels come back with all of the sauce mopped up it is a good feeling.”
The dish from the A Bit Hungry menu that really blew our minds was the Frank’s Hot Wings & Blue Cheese Sauce. The hottish chilli marinade of the wings is mellowed perfectly by the blue cheese sauce – a flavoursome melange that cuts through to even the most beer soaked tastebuds. Blue cheese sauce is a staple of French cuisine but Marchant never trained in Paris – he is in fact a veteran of Fitzroy dining – more specifically, Gertrude St.
“I have actually worked on Gertrude St. for about seven years having worked at the now defunct Dante’s, I worked at The Gertrude Hotel and I have been here for almost three years.”
Finally, Marchant explains why he and front of house manager Dawn McKinley believe you should drop in for a beer and a The Famous Fat Eddy burger next time you’re in Fitzroy. “We’re trying to do good food at a reasonable price – that’s the key goal.”
BY FAT PRESTON