St Jude's is a relatively new restaurant, wine bar and cafe located smack bang in the middle of the famous Brunswick Street entertainment precinct. This was my first experience of the place, and it was a rather pleasant one on this warm but rather unsettled late summer's Sunday afternoon in Melbourne.
The first thing that strikes you about the place is its sheer size. It's probably two to three times larger than your average restaurant and has seating for plenty. It is large but far from daunting, with the atmosphere very easy going. Its depth and width, along with the high ceiling lend it a big, open ambience that was very pleasantly breezy and fresh on a warm day. Heaters line the walls and so I imagine it's just as comfortable on a frigid July evening. It's also very well appointed, with a tasteful mix of modern and rustic décor. The accommodations were most comfortable.
You would think the size of the place could possibly mean a slightly slower service, with many more tables for the wait staff to cover. But nothing could have been further from the truth. The staff were highly attentive, pleasant and the waits between course were extremely reasonable.
The brunch menu was very extensive, and contained many selections for vegetarian and carnivore alike. First up was a croissant with a raspberry conserve. The jam was delectably sweet and the croissant itself was precisely what a croissant should be, that is beautifully crusty on the outside whilst soft and 'melt in the mouth' buttery on the inside. Also for starters was a generous serve of spinach, cheese and nutmeg croquettes, which were a taste sensation. I could have eaten at least half a dozen more of these.
The smoked eggs, eggplant, braised tomato and fetta was a very interesting and different mains, quite possibly one of the chef's own creations, and cooked to perfection. It was absolutely ideal for brunch. Not too big and not too small. There was also the smoked salmon with a soft egg and crème fraiche on rye, which was subtly delicious. The main course went down a real treat.
It is obvious when the freshest of produce is used at an eatery, and when it's not, and fresh is exactly what you get at St Jude's. Couldn't resist a dessert. The chocolate tart with cream and raspberries on the side was small but extremely tasty, rich but not overpoweringly so, and capped things off to a sweet tee.
The coffee at St Jude's is rich, fresh and full flavoured. Plus we washed things down with a few mamosas, which were rather refreshing on a warm and humid day.
The other major surprise was the pricing. As a somewhat upmarket eatery, we were expecting quite an upmarket price tag. But St Judes' menu is ridiculously reasonable, almost to the point of being underpriced. And as we all know, that is not a word you hear very often these days.
The restaurant is also a wine bar, and their cellars are extremely well stocked with all sorts of vintages, so you won't be short of a nice rich red or sparkling white with your meal at St Jude's.
All in all St Jude's, whilst only having been around for a few years in a strip where eating institutions abound, definitely has its act together. Its style is simple and casual. The food, service, décor and ambience are all top notch, and with great company this place comes highly recommended.
And a hearty thanks to the staff who made us feel most welcome.