Whether you are a Brunswick resident looking for a great night out close to home, someone from the other side of the river seeking to have an adventure away from usual haunts or planning a date with a difference, the other end of Lygon St will deliver.
Everyone knows about Lygon St, Carlton: Readings, Jimmy Watson's, Cinema Nova, the gelati, but what about Lygon St, East Brunswick? The northern end of Melbourne's iconic Lygon St is fast becoming a destination within its own right.
The "other end" of Lygon Street starts at the Brunswick Rd-Lygon St intersection and ends at Albion St where Lygon St. turns into Holmes Road/ Nicolson St. This part of Lygon St has a strong emphasis on food. Perhaps this is not surprising, given it is one of the main thoroughfares of East Brunswick – the food capital of Melbourne, according to a 2009 edition of Delicious Magazine.
Before getting down to eating the delicious fare on offer, an aperitif at one of one of the gorgeous bars is advisable. Many of the bars in this part of Lygon Street are in converted terrace houses and thus have several comfortable nooks for drinkers to sit in. The bars exude a shabby chic ambience that resonates well with the general East Brunswick vibe. At the top end at number 86 is Eydie's, a new offering with a great beer garden. On the same side of the road, further down is The Alderman (number 134). Across the road a bit further down is Atticus Finch (number 129) - a warm bar with a fabulous pool room. Much further down on the same side as Atticus Finch is Mr. Wilkinson at number 295.
All four bars offer patrons a thoughtful selection of wine and beer as well as snacks. However one thing I particularly like about several of these bars is that they facilitate the ordering of food from a nearby restaurant (just in case if an aperitif turns into a full blown drinking session!): Eydie's from Thalia Thai; The Alderman from Bar Idda. However, to fully savour The Other End of Lygon St., I advise moving on from your chosen bar to one of the foodie treats along this strip.
No matter what your budget, or which corner of the world whets your appetite, someone on the Other End of Lygon St.is serving up something you'll love. Cheap and cheerful, speedy and sumptuous is the food at Thalia Thai (number 82). During winter it is bursting at the seams and in summer diners pack out the al fresco eating area in front of the shop. The meals are literally thrown together by a team of wok wielding wizards at the front of the restaurant and unceremoniously plonked down in front of eager diners.
If you are after something casual, but more up market than Thalia Thai, then try Baba (number 80) - a Lebanese inspired tapas restaurant. From the moment you walk in you'll be impressed by the interior design (street smart with a touch of Arabic). Baba's delicious offerings – all accompanied by generous lashings of olive oil, labneh and pomegranate – will have you promising yourself that you'll be back.
Just a few doors down from Baba at number 90 is Zia Teresa, a traditional Italian restaurant that has operated for over 17 years and is every bit as delicious as any of its cousins in the Carlton end of its street. Newer, but every bit as delicious is Bar Idda (number 132) - a Sicilian tapas restaurant that has opened in the location where the original Rumi took off.
If you're after a real treat of the cordon bleu variety then venture further down Lygon St and try Rumi or the Hellenic Republic (number 434). Rumi is high-end Arabic Cuisine. It started out in a cute, little corner shop a few doors down from where it is now. However, as word about this exceptional restaurant spread, Rumi outgrew its original premises almost before its first year in business. Rumi is now in a larger, less convivial location but the food is as delicious as ever. Further down Lygon Street is George Calombaris' (of Press Club and Master Chef fame) offering to Brunswick foodies. Inspired by simple, rustic Greek "tavernas" the fare dished up here is anything but simple – the saganaki and figs will change the way you think about fried cheese forever.
Whilst most of these restaurants have great deserts it would be a terrible shame to miss out on the Brunswick institution that is the Gelo Bar. The Gelo Bar has been serving up home made gelati and cakes to Brunswick residents and visitors for decades. The gelati are decadent flavours such as Bachi and Toblerone with real chunks of the chocolate in them. On a warm summer's night the queue can stretch out of the shop and around the corner, but it always moves swiftly and good humouredly. Sitting outside the Gelo Bar with the full panoply of people that call Brunswick home or strolling down Lygon street, eating your ice cream is a great way to finish off a wonderful evening in this neck of the woods.
This article guides the reader to some of my favourite spots in the Northern End of Lygon St – however lots of great spots have been left out and it seems that every other week a new bar or restaurant is opening, so go and explore for yourself! You can drive, catch the Number 1 or the Number 8 tram or jump on your bike (the Park St. bike path, which links to the Capitol City Trail, passes the top end of Lygon St.)
Why? Whether you are a Brunswick resident looking for a great night out close to home, someone from the other side of the river seeking to have an adventure away from usual haunts or planning a date with a difference, the other end of Lygon St will delive
When:Any time you are hungry!
Where:Lygon St (between Brunswick Road and Albion Street)
Cost:Varies according to establishment, but a lot of reasonably priced places