Having not one but two birthdays in my family just before Christmas every year always kills me and this year was no exception. I spent most of this weekend eating but the good thing was that it took our minds and attention off the miserable and wet weather conditions.
Poor Mr Rosanna’s birthday is always overshadowed now but we managed to salvage the day by taking him out for brunch at new Rosanna cafe The Pioneer, which is firmly on the map after a visit from our Premier Daniel Andrews MP last week. The front tables were taken but we were given some seats in the back room (above) with the square communal table that seats 12, housing the Christmas tree, which small people came to look at while we were there.
The owner has a social enterprise background but this is his own first cafe and what I love even more is that he is a local and an El Salvadoran Australian so the menu is Spanish-influenced. Despite the drizzle, the place was still rockin’ on Saturday morning with very much an inner-city vibe – I still find it hard to believe sleepy Rosanna is finally starting to wake up. The coffee and the meals (above) were fantastic – as good as you’ll find in Fitzroy or Collingwood. On a sunnier day, it would also be lovely to spend time in the back courtyard tables so it’s great to see this former newsagency transformed into something of the times. Interesting too to know that besides a Woolworths supermarket, Chemist Warehouse is also coming to Rosanna Village in the near future on the corner of Lower Plenty Road and Bellevue Avenue where Meridian Travel used to be and going all the way up to where Chris the Cobbler (who’ll be moving to Macleod) has been for over 30 years! They made him an offer too good to refuse…
Mr R’s day didn’t stop there as I’d booked dinner for us a while ago at Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, which was also a great experience given the conditions outside. Brunswick Street is always pretty busy on a Saturday night but it was jumping (and dark!) inside the restaurant where we had a booth table after Dani from Hunter Lane Cafe had recommended me booking. There was some pretty awesome 70s dance music on high rotation while we were there so I found it hard to sit still – it’s got a great atmosphere and reminded me a bit of Garden State Hotel in the city with all the different layers and parts to it upstairs and downstairs. There was a private function going on upstairs but the Village People rooftop bar with hawker style dining would also make a great date night venue. The mixed sushi and sashimi platter that we had (above) was beautifully presented and there was a team of Japanese chefs behind the counter doing their thing. I’ve not been to the sister restaurant in St Kilda but I think it would be just as good. It was interesting too to note that we weren’t the oldest people in the joint – I think there are a number of older people now downsizing and moving to the inner city.
We’d walked past a number of cool looking bars and restaurants on the way to Ichi Ni Nana including The Rooks Return, Smith & Daughters and Bon Ap but ended up at Uptown Jazz Cafe where we had a drink and stayed for a couple of songs by a jazz trio playing two sets that night. It was a great way to spend a Saturday night in Melbourne.
We also had dinner at local favourite Benjamin’s Kitchen in Alphington on Friday night followed by ice cream at Fairy Hills Ice Cream in Ivanhoe (in a great location on Lower Heidelberg Road opposite Ivanhoe Grammar) where we played a game of Uno. We were at Leo’s Fine Food briefly over the weekend (where again I am loving all the Christmas packaging for imported European foodstuffs like Italian Panettone above) and I noticed that ice creamery Wally & Fletcher on Burgundy Street is just about to open so Fairy Hills will have a new local competitor. I am hoping the weather picks up again for all of them as I think it would be great to share the ice cream love.