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Published February 16th 2018
Fine Bowls of Wholesome Fresh Food
The view through large windows facing Magill road is that of steady traffic; the noise a murmuring hum with the occasional screech and hiss of brakes. Heat radiating from hot asphalt is making the air shimmer, with the baked scent of road mingling with that of smoking tyres and acrid exhaust. There's a bus stop I used to wait at decades ago. Adjacent, the now closed Caroma factory still bears its name in faded blue letters against featureless brick.
It's a familiar sight to anyone who has travelled along Magill Road, a scene so nondescript that staring at it would invite the wandering mind to drift into nostalgia, but thankfully I'm not paying much attention to the view because the food before me is delicious.
Opened in June 2017 alongside a gym (and sharing the same owners), Fine and Fettle is airy, well lit and pleasantly breezy. Cool tones of textured white walls and blue light cascading through large glass windows are contrasted with wood feature walls, a black ceiling highlighted with overflowing greenery and warmed by incandescent Edison bulbs.
The menu is divided into Breakfasts and Salad Bowls, where the now expected eggs, grilled haloumi and smashed avocado is intriguingly paired with more atypical offerings such as blue swimmer crab and mojo verde. The Salad Bowls have a Japanese Character with protein sources ranging from Tuna, Salmon Sashimi, Yakitori chicken, Beef Tataki and Aburi Salmon belly to Achiote Pork belly and Shawarma lamb. A pleasing array of wine and cocktails as well as non alcoholic offerings is available.
Smoky charcoal grill notes in the Aburi Salmon Belly dish are perfect. The creamy texture of the fish is well complemented by the teasing bite of wasabi avocado, the salty crunch of wakame and the textural firm but yielding delight of edamame. The Achiote Pork pulls no punches with bold, meaty deliciousness against charred corn, relish and pico de gallo – the result being a supremely flavourful bowl, a balance of salty, sweet, tangy, umami and heat. A side of haloumi is perfectly crisp and gooey. The smoothies are pleasingly cool. Prices hover around $20 a plate, with a full menu available here.
Fine and Fettle provides an interesting change up to the usual breakfast and lunchtime options offered by cafes of this ilk. Premium meat, seafood and vegetable options – many of which are charcoal charred – are combined with creative combinations of fresh and picked ingredients accompanied by complex sauces. If you're visiting the area, traveling to/back from the city or on a lunch break, Fine and Fettle, much like the Whistle and Flute Cafe, provides another inspired dining experience.