Backstreet Cafe, Fitzroy
Friends know I’m all about airflow.
If I’m not stressing about my napkin being blown from the table then I’m just not myself. It keeps me focused and burns all the excess energy I have left over from not having a girlfriend.
Backstreet Cafe has amazing airflow, and they can control the amount of air flow they get with some sweet little door-like contraptions, which quite frankly made my heart smile.
And when the napkin does eventually blow off the table I harness this state of readiness and catch it before it hits the ground, usually endearing myself to nearby strangers. And so it was to the soundtrack of ridiculously out of date compliments like ”look out Allan Border!” that I began my meal at Backstreet Cafe.
Firstly, let’s get the name out of the way now. Backstreet Cafe. It’s pretty shit. It sounds like the name of a fictional cafe you have to write a business plan for in a university business subject. Granted the name of a cafe is not that important, but just texting it to my friends makes me feel a bit dirty.
You can tell it’s by the Birdman Eating guys, right down to the menu font and its penchant for baked eggs. Not to mention various press mentioning it’s by the Birdman Eating guys. I have noticed a few more fancy dishes creep into the Birdman specials of late and I guess Backstreet must be the outlet for them to unleash their inner Fancy Boy.
Their rolls are really pretty damn good, I have to say. I’ve had the Herring Roll twice now and I really like it. You can smell it coming from miles away, which is what you want from herring. It comes with red onion and pickled cucumber which my dining partner Eric The Discerning Llama with 90s Hair thought offset the herring delightfully.
Then it was time for the Salty Pork Belly Roll with green olive tapenade, as they say in the classics. This roll was goddamn delicious. Pork belly is the perennial golden boy of the food world, and is invariably the most popular item on any menu. It was just a good roll. No fancy foodie bullshit, no offsetting of flavours, no food sitting on a bed of something. It was just a really good roll.
Just saying the following to the waitress made me feel like one of those middle-aged foodie couples with ‘crazy’ fluoro specs: “I’ll have the Morcilla, potato and horseradish terrine with apple compote, fried egg and green leaves, thanks”. I think it was the word “compote”.
I’ve never been a huge fan of taking bits of every bit of food on the dish and putting them together in some sort of unholy beast of flavours. A food frankenstein, if you will. But you really have to do that to get the most out of this one. By themselves the components of the dish are ok, but when you throw some of that apple “compote” and those bitter leaves into the fray it really takes things to a higher level (according to Eric). The horseradish – as always – was trying to get its fat head into every bite but you can control him with the sides. It was pretty much like Occupy Wall Street, with the horseradish being the 1% and the other ingredients being the 99%.
And finally, I decided to laugh in the face of the Global Financial Crisis and order the Duck Livers with some sort of stewed plum arrangement. It was on special so I am just going from the photo I took. This dish was like something that Gordon Gecko would’ve ordered at a high-powered lunch on Wall street with other corporate fat cats during the heady days of the 80s. I say this because rich dummies always order the fanciest things even if they don’t think it’s going to be any good. I had my first – and only – foie gras in Osaka at a hotel and it was amazing. Just one of the best things ever created. And so it was with some (well-founded, as it turns out) trepidation that I ordered the duck livers here. Just have a look at this.
I shudder to think how much this dish would’ve cost to produce. There were literally about 7-10 livers in this bowl, and I couldn’t finish it. Even though I had already eaten a roll, this would probably be too rich to finish even if it was the only thing you ate. Dad once told me (with unusual passion) “Charles, never, EVER leave more than 3 duck livers on the plate at the end of a meal”, so I didn’t. He is a wise old man, but Jesus sometimes I fail to see the logic in the things he says.
Backstreet – as the kids like to call it – also has a pretty sweet food cave downstairs near the toilets. It was a nice little discovery as stumbled to the bathroom to dispose of the liver I had wrapped in my napkin. I should mention that I ate the above dishes on 2 different days.
152 Kerr Street, Fitzroy