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Crofter Dining Room & Bar Is Lygon Street's New Home of British-Style Meals and Bar Snacks

Pope Joan's Matt Wilkinson has taken over the old Hellenic Republic space with a menu featuring potato gems, salads and ham off the bone.
By Libby Curran
January 16, 2020
By Libby Curran
January 16, 2020

Having spent a solid decade celebrating modern Greek fare in its role as George Calombaris' Hellenic Republic, the site at 434 Lygon Street has gone and done a bit of culture swapping. After closing before Christmas, it's now home to Crofter Dining Room & Bar, the latest venture from UK-born chef Matt Wilkinson (Pope Joan, The Pie Shop), dishing up modern Australian eats with a healthy dose of British influence thrown in for good measure.

In a nod to sustainability, vegetables are given the role of headline act at this Brunswick 80 seater, with meat and seafood dishes stepping in as the support. This seasonal lineup of 'flora' might feature plates like a Keralan-style, wood-fired spicy cabbage salad, zucchini matched with a parmesan clotted cream, or scoffable potato gems laced with curry sauce and paired with gin salt. A vegan menu is also on offer.

Local octopus, skate and cuttlefish star alongside capers in a side-serve marinara, while an 'old cow' kofta is teamed with pickled vegetables. Christmas-worthy free-range ham is carved to order and sided with mustard, and you'll find two styles of house-baked bread and dips to kick it all off. Of course, the Brits' beloved pudding gets a generous look-in, too, with a whole swag of desserts including an Eton mess-inspired pavlova roll.

The potato gems

The drinks offering is a hefty one, with reasonably priced drops for all occasions. Expect a considered mix of local and international wines from the likes of Pennyweight, Crawford River and Mac Forbes, along with sherries and a slew of house-made digestifs.

Wilkinson also happens to be the creative director of Four Pillars offshoot Made from Gin, which turns spent botanicals from the distillation process into gin-based products like chocolate and even cheese. Thanks to this little collaboration, you'll find Four Pillars' full range of gin offerings behind the Crofter bar, along with two of the distillery's signature cocktails, dubbed Tan Lines and Pub Squash. A grapefruit-driven concoction designed by Wilkinson himself is also in the works.

Find Crofter Dining Room & Bar at 434 Lygon Street, Brunswick East. It's open from 5.30pm–late Tuesday to Friday, and from 11.30am Saturday and Sunday. 

Published on January 16, 2020 by Libby Curran


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