Kate reviews: Mr Brownie and their ‘show-stopping’ pies!
343 Clarendon St, South Melbourne
When Gourmet Traveller recently announced the winners of their 2020 Hospitality Honours List for the “Giving Back” category, I wasn’t at all surprised to see Jessi Singh’s name there.
The Melbourne restaurateur responsible for some of the most enjoyable openings of the last year or so, opened the doors to his brand new “British Indian curry pub” on the second of July this year. Stage three restrictions kicked in on July ninth.
Rather than shutter the multi-level venue, he handed the reins over to chefs and other hospitality workers with no safety net (largely visa workers) rent and commission free. They were able to cook and sell takeaway food, and earn the vital cash they needed to live.
Finally though, these four or so floors of pure fun have opened, and it’s worth a look not just to support someone who has been so selfless in a time of need, but also because it’s sure to proffer a rollicking good time.
The venue itself is typical of Jessi’s style. You’ll walk in on ground level to a bar, bottle shop, and kitchen complete with bain-marie full of “inauthentic” Indian goodies – curry spiced chips, samosas and bhajis. You can eat these on the table outside or take them away, along with the rest of the menu.
Head upstairs and it’s Jessi’s usual opulent flair – bright green walls and vibrant red carpets; red and green leather booths, on the rooftop some plush velvet seats inside, plenty of tables and chairs outside with enviable city views.
The food too, is typical of what we’ve come to expect from Jessi. Fun, flamboyant and anything but traditional.
Now – health food aficionados look away now. I’m not going to tell you that you’ll win any friends at the Heart Foundation here – it’s not fit food, but boy it’s fun food.
We started, pretty traditional, with the onion bhaji – the expected combination of soft, sweet red onion, some zucchini and spinach in a chickpea flour batter with a drizzle of mint chutney and yoghurt.
I’m a sucker for Indian chaat, so was never going to bypass the Samosa chat. Big, fat, fresh samosas covered in a tasty assortment of mint chutney, Date and tamarind chutney, yoghurt and a sprinkling of crispy Indian sev.
A little less expected were the Jalapeno poppers. Chopped green jalapenos, mixed with cream cheese, wrapped in beer batter and deep fried. Great. Beer. Food.
If you love the Indian Chinese Cauliflower at Daughter-in-Law and Mrs Singh – you won’t be disappointed here. Big florets smothered Chinese sweet and sour sauce, with sesame seeds and chives.
So what’s the showstopper? Well, it could be the lobster roll or the Butter Chicken parma, but for mine it’s the Mr Brownie pies.
I would have told you not to go past the butter chicken pie – it was the one I fell in love with first. But then I tried the Beef Vindaloo version. Oh my. Slow cooked, smoked lamb, in a spicy Vindaloo sauce, encased in perfect puff pastry. This sort of combination of carbs and rich sauce should surely be illegal in 2020.
There’s a great value drinks list, choose from fridges full of packaged beer on the ground floor, sixteen more on tap, wines, or some fun affordable cocktails (highly recommend the “Other Sour”).
Need an excuse to check it out? Try the Rooftop Bottomless BBQ sizzle on Saturday and Sunday from 12pm – 4pm. For $49 you’ll get 90 minutes of tap beers, cocktails, house wine and barbecue eats.
For our meal, we enjoyed two cocktails and five dishes for under a hundred bucks ($99 to be exact).
With plenty of flair, a sense of fun, and seriously fair prices – Mr Brownie is a great place to start your foray back into the Melbourne food scene.