09 August, 2011

Monsieur Truffe and friends

Monsieur Truffe: 351 Lygon St, Brunswick East; (03) 9380 4915
Kumo: 152 Lygon St, Brunswick East; (03) 9388 1505

The Resurrection: 135 Lygon St, Brunswick East (no phone)

What's happening in Brunswick East? Everything, seems to be the answer.

This isn't the first time this blog, and many others, have talked about the changes to the northern end of Lygon St. In the five or more years I've lived in this part of the world, a string of cafe, bar and restaurant owners have made this part of town their own, joining several pioneers and stayers in the industry already here. Either all those people are very savvy in their business models, or East Brunswickians are generous with their custom. Very few of the places whose birth I've witnessed have closed and some of them, even years after opening, can be tough to get into at times.

It appears the second half of 2011 will see a whole new wave of big names making Lygon St their home. In the space of 24 hours I came across three new 'name' venues opening along one stretch.

First up is Kumo, an izakaya and sake bar. These Japanese style 'pubs' are pretty hot right now - Maedaya in Richmond and Izakaya Den in the city have garnered plenty of press attention. It's a smart move opening up on the stretch of Lygon already home to Rumi and Bar Idda - this part of Brunswick doesn't do a lot of 'cool Asian'. There's Thaila Thai, sure, and neighbourhood spots such as Satay Anika and Kake di Hatti. For Japanese, there's Matsumoto down the street and Iku Yakitori on Sydney Rd.

But Kumo is run by a 'Japanophile', Andre Bishop, who studied sake in the land of the rising sun. It's early days: Three Thousand mag reports they opened on 5 August, and their website is still 'coming soon'. From the exterior though it sure looks the part, having completely rejuvenated a corner spot that used to be a kids' toy store.

Better known in Melbourne hospitality circles is Jerome Borazio, he of Jerome's Bar, the Laneway Festival and Ponyfish. He's opened a new bar - also with a soft launch on 5 August - across the road and down a bit from Kumo, busting in on The Alderman and Atticus Finch territory. You can find more details on Facebook.

The third is the triumvirate is Monsieur Truffe, which has its existing home on Smith St, Collingwood (another stretch of real estate making like a Monopoly set with restaurants popping up like hotels). Thibault Fregoni has opened an atelier, wherein he will make artisan chocolate from cocoa beans, a first for Melbourne. On sale are a variety of high-end chocolate products (truffles, button, 'thins'), along with a small cafe menu including Noisette bread and croque monsieur. The small menu is at odds with the size of the cafe - this place is huge! Warehouse sized, it features two large communal tables, several smaller tables with banquette seating, and some bar stools from which you can look at the chocolate making machinery.

Their mocha is an intense, deep, dark chocolate and caffeine fix that will have you humming until well into the afternoon.

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