With an identity that fits its location and style, this is good, simple food done very well.
In the era of large outer-suburban retail districts and uber-trendy ‘place-to-be-seen’ fashion strips, there’s something entirely lovely about an intimate shopping village. Everyone in the street knows everyone, and to be welcomed into the shops and restaurants makes you feel immediately at home.
The recently opened Food NV is situated in the picturesque little shopping strip of Martin St, Brighton – sometimes referred to as the Gardenvale Village area. Wade Martin is the owner and head chef at Food NV. He took over the site a little over a year ago, yet is already an important cog in the village atmosphere. That may be partly due to the fact that he has lived around the area on and off for many years, but is mainly because he has created a restaurant that stands proudly with its own identity and fits perfectly within the village life.
Don’t be fooled by the small collection of tables at the front – when you walk along the corridor beside the visible kitchen, you stumble out to a broad open courtyard with polished concrete and ample seating. I can only imagine what a wonderful vibrancy this area would have on a balmy summer evening – a meeting point for the local villagers if you will. Yet even on a chilly winter night, the strength of the brilliant industrial heaters keep the area toasty.
Most pleasingly, the offerings fit the village feel. It’s good honest food done well. This is a location and an environment that welcomes quality produce, but doesn’t want delicate little fare that looks more like contemporary art than food.
The order of buttery garlic wild mushrooms fricassee is exactly what the name suggests, and stands as a perfect example of Wade’s determination to present simple food in its natural glory. The mushrooms are cooked to a perfect consistency, the seasoning and herbs are at ideal levels, and as for ‘buttery’, well, yes they are, but in that wonderful sense that it adds an indulgent depth of flavour.
Mention should also be given to the pork sliders. Wade’s version is again an example of getting flavour levels right and preparing the dish properly. There’s a lovely crunch of crackling and the chilli jam has enough heat to be noticed without trying to take over the show.
And that confidence in the product flows right through to dessert. You can’t get much simpler than a bread and butter pudding; but when it’s cooked perfectly and blended with a balanced mixture of berry and ice cream, then it’s nothing short of extraordinary.
This is a restaurant that knows what it is and where it’s located. Food NV may have just moved into the village, but the locals treat it like it’s been there forever.
By Jonathan Green
Food NV w: http://foodnv.com.au/ t: (03) 9596 6966 a: 162 Martin Street, Brighton, Victoria 3186