Food and Drink
Posted by Dan Kuseta
03. Feb, 2012
After a long wait the people behind Brunswick East cafe Pope Joan have finally opened a new bar right next door, The Bishop of Ostia.
Owner Ben Foster and his team have made great use of a deceptively large space. Inside there’s lots of wood and an open bar, while outside there’s the kitchen, communal tables and lots of astroturf plus a squiggly grey artwork suspended up top.
It feels fun.
On the drinks front there’s a good selection of Victoria beers, cider and wines. Discerning types will like the Melbourne-inspired cocktail list with tipples like the Brunswick Mule – sour cherries, bourbon, mint, lime, organic ginger beer and more cherries and the Northside – West Winds ‘Sabre’, Pimms No. 1, lemon juice, lemon and basil syrup, cucumber and tonic water (both $17).
Fans of chef Matt Wilkinson’s justly famous sandwiches will be pleased to know that besides the booze the food’s bringing bar snacks to the next level. There’s dishes like the Spice crumbed Moreton Bay bugs with mayo ($14), bone marrow, spanner crab, Yarra Valley salmon roe ($15) and Cuppa English custard, donuts ($10).
I tried the ‘Chef’s snack’ sashimi tuna with soy and ginger ($8).
Bellissimo. Not sure if it’ll ever knock of a bag of salt ‘n’ vinegar Samboys as the bar snack of choice but maybe it should.
But my stomach was far from filled so next I went for the Pig’s Ear, chilli sauce, rocket and gribich sandwich ($7).
Yes, it’s real pig’s ear. No it doesn’t taste like chicken. I tastes like schnitzel. With chilli. Lots of chilli. Lots to like.
By this stage I’m getting pretty full but the booze is kicking in and can’t leave without trying the ‘best sandwich in the world’.
Last year Wilkinson took out top honours at the inaugural World Sandwichship for his “Ham and tomato” toasted sandwich with rarebit fondue ($12).
Is it the best sandwich in the world? That’s a pretty big call, but it’s definitely the best sandwich I’ve had in a bar. Filled with ham and three types of pickle, the crowning glory is dipping the bite size pieces into the rich fondue. I kind of makes you feel like a Roman Emperor. Or a bishop.
So I set out to review a bar and ended up just eating a lot. I guess that’s a good sign. A lot look forward to. It has my blessing.
The Bishop of Ostia
79 Nicholson St, Brunswick East
Thurs – Sun 4pm till late (food service starts 5.30pm)
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