This week I am

Small Victories, in Carlton, which is where the old Rathdowne Street Food Store used to be. It’s got a long counter/bar, a number of rooms, an easy-going atmosphere, and some very lively food, in the contemporary style. Which means that they’re playing around with textures and techniques. Dishes I liked a lot included a lightly cured venison with a beetroot cream, and scatterings of coffee and cocoa flavours. Cocoa and venison work together as far as I’m concerned – they share a darkly intense flavour. The chef is Alric Hansen (ex-Bar Louriha and The Crimean), in partnership with Ben Farrant (ex-Gill’s Diner).

Those who like breakfast will like it particularly for baked eggs, three different styles. Me, I’d go for the avocado with labne, herb and walnut dressing. The coffee is excellent; so is the tea. Lovely green tea, here.

Small Victories, 617 Rathdowne St, Carlton. Tel. 9347 4064


Footscray/Seddon/Yarraville provides consistently good eating. Latest finds include Konjo Café and Restaurant at 89 Irving St, Footscray. Coffee’s the thing here, sourced from Ethiopia, but there are meals, too. Very casual, open daily from 7am.

Also Ajitoya at 82 Charles St, Sedddon, a small and very good Japanese café, licensed for beer and wine. The set meals are great value – I had agedashi tofu, served with rice, a salad, a bowl of excellent miso. Everything’s presented attractively, everything tastes true to itself. Simple good food, and no fuss. The beers are Japanese, and include Japanese craft beers. There’s also a Japanese food store, and some take-away – but if they are busy, take away takes time. Closed on Mondays and Sunday evening.

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