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Since opening in 2011 Fitzrovia has been a flag bearer in the genesis of St Kilda’s fine food movement.

Situated in the cluster of restaurants at the upper end of Fitzroy St, Fitzrovia is housed in the old St Kilda Waldorf building. The inside has rustic charm with herbs protruding from light fittings and decorative fruit and veg baskets. The seating spills out into the street for alfresco dining and a chance to watch the procession of colourful characters.

Back in 2009 executive chef Paul Jewson and partner Marco Pugnaloni returned from a 20 year stint in some of London’s most esteemed restaurants to set up a passion project with the ethos of sustainable fine food. Jewson’s highly decorated career has seen him work under Antony Worrall Thompson at his 190 Queens Gate Restaurant, then become head chef at Terrence Conran’s Bluebird in 1997. He’s worked everywhere from Soho House and River Cafe to running the kitchens for premier European events company The Admirable Crichton, whose clients included the British Royal Family, Bill Clinton, Sting, Ralph Fiennes and Karl Lagerfeld.

Melbourne was a pretty good place to decompress from the combustion of London’s food scene, and Paul was quick to spot the self sufficiency of the region. In contrast to London, where most food is airdropped in, Victoria offers a very different playing field. “We have a wealth of produce from the Yarra Valley to Mornington to Gippsland. It’s great to have the ability to support local suppliers without compromising our menu – which is a pretty unique position to be in”.

Fitzrovia’s food is local, seasonal, sustainable and untethered to any particular tag, with an eclecticism that incorporates Modern British, Italian/French and some Asian. In catering throughout the day the menu has a fair wingspan, without being biblical. When you see a Chorizo and Tiger Prawn omelette on the breakfast menu, you’d best camp down for the day.  The Hot & Sour Crisp Salt & Pepper Calamari weighs the zinginess, spiciness and herbaceousness perfectly.  Polenta Chips are a speciality – crisp and rectangular with fluffy interiors, stacked like culinary ammunition, loaded with subtle undertones of truffle oil and parmesan.

The in-house patisserie supplies a steady flow of croissants, sourdoughs and indulgent desserts. I walked out with a chocolate and caramel slice – completely surplus to requirements after a three course meal. As a food critic, the acid test for the fine dining experience is the law of diminishing returns: the longer the meal, the less you enjoy the latter stages. The Gluttony Conundrum, as we call it in the industry. It’s simple maths, and something I’ve been formulating for years.

The caramel slice disappeared without trace, or incident. Top marks.


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