After being quite curious about some of the new restaurants that have opened in Fitzroy a few months ago, I’ve not been as enthusiastic (or able) to try them. The replacement to Penang Affair is a generic China Bar, the raw food place on Rose St opened for one (invite only) night and is now defunct (the building is awaiting planning approval for a significant redevelopment) and Eat Drink Man Woman failed to publish their menu so I didn’t know what kind of food they served.
EDMW have no online presence and there was no menu in the window. Although a few early reviews described some of the food, this was not enough for me to want to go there. I wrote about how much I disliked this and within a week a menu appeared in the window. Once I knew what I was being invited to eat, I came for Saturday lunch with a friend.
EDMW has dished of many origins, and I can be hesitant about restaurants that appear generic or serve dishes with many different cultural or ethnic origins. I generally prefer a theme or style – Malaysian, modern British – because this suggests expertise in this style. In some instances when a restaurant offers many different styles of food it does not excel at any.
We ordered two mains and two sides to share: octopus with olives (top), Balinese style pork beli (below), charred pumpkin (above) and beetroot salad with hazelnuts (bottom). The octopus was good, though it was not perfectly tender, and the olives extraordinarily strongly pickled and salty. The pumpkin and salad were both very good and worked well as accompaniments to the meat dishes.
The pork belly is the outstanding dish here. It’s tender and beautifully flavoured with lemongrass and lime. Although it no longer comes with a small salad of its own on the plate (see the previous review by Mel: hot or not), it is amazing.
My friend visited the toilets and reported the women’s to be fresh and spacious. In terms of accessibility, there is a large step up into the restaurant on the Brunswick St front entrance and the Westgarth St side entrance and the doors open inwards. The corridoors inside are reasonably spacious but with the room nearly full navigating through the space could be an issue.
We enjoyed our simple lunch. We didn’t want wine and went elsewhere later, after a walk in the sunshine, for coffee, so our bill was a modest $54 for these four dishes. The atmosphere is relaxing and it’s not too noisy for its size. Overall, I liked it but didn’t love it. Considering the crusty Retro cafe that it has replaced, EDMW is a welcome addition to Brunswick St and I’ll be back to try the breakfast dishes and the coffee. Breakfast has already been reviewed by Hookturns and Once a waitress.