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Melbourne Eats: St Judes Cellars

Having started a new job a bit over a month ago has left me with more free time than I’ve had in ages. I have one week night off a week now, on which I can do what I please, so we’ve been doing a bit of dinning out. A perk of my new workplace is that my co-workers are actually into food. Imagine that! Every week someone has a fascinating account of what new place they’ve popped into for lunch or dinner. We decided to give St Judes Cellars on Brunswick street a go this Thursday.

St Judes Cellars is brought to you by the same crew that has blessed Melbourne with the
Panama Dinning Room and The Vegie Bar, so they know what they’re doing! During the walk down Brunswick street one would never guess that such a sleek-looking interior would be hiding inside to pleasantly surprise. We were greeted at the door by a hip-looking floor staff who immediately forced us to make a choice: communal table, bar or single table. We had a look at the empty bar with its modernistic high chairs, the bustling communal tables and the slightly sad looking single table against the wall and went with the private table — the view was way better.

The wine list was short and concise with a 50-50 mix of Australian and European wines. There was even a little notice down the bottom advising us that if nothing on the wine list took our fancy we were welcome to choose any wine from the bottle shop to enjoy at our table, as long as we added $15 to the shelf price. We chose a bottle of Spanish white and when we asked waitstaff about recommendations the reply was: the best way to figure out whether we’d like it or not was to have a taste. And we did. We setttled on a bottle and nibbled on bread while we waited for the Mt. Zero olives ($8) and roast beetroot and lentil salad ($14) to arrive. Both the olives and the salad were beautiful. The salted ricotta really complimented the earthy and nutty flavours in the salad. Olives are always great because the accompanying oil makes eating free bread while you wait for you meal a whole lot more interesting!

I will give them credit for offering a non-conventional vego option of a quinoa, faro, pumpkin, pistachio and mushroom salad ($21),but I wasn’t feeling adventurous enough to enjoy not one, but two salads in one sitting that night. I decided on a side of buttered sugar snap peas ($8), and filo parcels of ricotta, nettle and citrus ($18). I hadn’t planned on indulging on a side dish, but the waitstaff informed me that the entrees were quite small to enjoy as a main. She was right. I’ve never eaten nettle before, but it’s a serious contender if you’re a spinach or leafy green lover.

No complaints about the food. At all. The food even arrives on a charming little wooden board that they place in the middle of the table for any grazing and/or sharing purposes one might experience during  a meal. Dessert consisted of a glass of Pedro Ximenes and a glass of Creme sherry. Both excellent and highly recommended with any cheese. My only concern was that the portion sizes might have erred on the small side, but with the rise in food costs, global warming and market crashes, what is one to do?

A visit to St Jude’s Cellars will leave you feeling good about yourself, even if you opt for the lonely looking private tables against the wall. It’s a fresh breath of sophistication for Fitzroy.

St Jude’s Cellars

389-391 Brunswick St, Fitzroy 3065

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