Sophisticated British comfort food adds a much-needed destination to Thornbury's dining options.
Recent months have seen a new crop of bars spring up in Thornbury. And spring so suddenly they have, it's as if the council had sent out subliminal messages promising hospitality folk good luck for life if they offered the fine people of Darebin a drinking destination. But as far as decent dining options go, there's still some room for improvement (we assume the next round of coaxing is awaiting broadcast). Northern Git, however, didn't wait for the promise of good fortune. They're making it happen on a sleepy corner just north of the village, and south of the aforementioned crop of bars on High Street.
While for some the name might invoke thoughts of an old Geordie chav, you can rest assured the experience here is much more refined. Share plates abound — the asparagus dish ($16.50) was light, well-balanced and a fresh and tasty way to start, and the plate of pork crackling ($6) is pretty much the opposite, in the most decadently delicious way. Moving down the menu into the larger plates and heavier meals, the general theme here is something akin to 'sophisticated comfort food'. Calamari, corn-fed duck and slow-cooked pork cheek fit the bill nicely, and there's barely anything more comforting than a perfectly cooked steak from the 'beef' menu — particularly when it's ordered and priced by cut and size, and served with chilli and garlic sauteed spinach and a choice of red wine jus or peppercorn sauce. The 300gm porterhouse this writer tried ($13.50 per 100g) was presented sliced atop the bed of spinach, felt lighter than a 'chunk' of steak, and was closer to actually melting in my mouth than I previously thought possible for a porterhouse.
So, what better to go with such a meal than a glass of red? Or, at Northern Git, a keg of red. Here the house wines (although a full-bodied shiraz from Heathcote is hardly the standard 'house' option) are stored in a keg, poured from a tap and offered in various sizes up to a litre. The rest of the list is wholly Victorian, the beers are all Australian, and while the food feels true to the suggested British-ness, is very seasonal to these parts. All up, Northern Git is doing casual sophistication well, in a pocket of Melbourne that needs and — if the full tables are anything to go by — already fully embraced it.
Images: Wadette Thomson