If the thought of holidaying with three other couples sends a sense of dread through your system, imagine running a business like that. But for the eight people behind Fitzroy's recently opened Sir Charles, that's their chosen reality. Stephen and Angela McGinness's old bagelry near the corner of Brunswick and Johnston streets has been transformed, and they are joined at the helm of this new space by Axil Roasters' Dave Makin and Zoe Delany, hospitality pros Andy and Kat Smith, and chef Tyler Preston and his interior designer wife Georgina Lee.
That's a lot of cooks — so it's lucky they seem to have figured out how not to spoil the broth. The result is a clean, expansive and contemporary space; it's the type of cafe we've come to expect and rely on in this city.
The breakfast and lunch menus are similarly streamlined, and both served until 4pm daily. The food carries modern flavours and Asian sensibilities (thanks to Preston's time in the Chin Chin kitchen), with the breakfast menu in particular offering some interesting surprises. Think granola with chai milk and citrus labne ($9.50), eggs benedict with panko-crumbed eggs and Sriracha hollandaise ($18) and miso scrambled eggs ($17).
At dinnertime on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Sir Charles offers small, medium and large plates — from Korean fried chicken wings ($11) and kingfish sashimi ($16), through to sticky pork belly with apple and herb salad and green nam jim ($21.50) and pan fried duck breast with pickled watermelon and lychee salad ($23.50). You're pretty covered no matter what your hunger level — especially when there's sticky black rice with sweet coconut and bruleed banana on hand fill any remaining gaps.
Whilst it's easy to appreciate the white/blonde/copper decor palette, enjoy a menu with an Asian twist and find merit in any place that serves wine or beer (or indeed a flat white) alongside Korean fried chicken and Wagyu sandwiches at 3pm in the afternoon, this is nothing revolutionary. Sir Charles could be described as an all-round very pleasant experience. And that's no bad thing — it's just not mind-blowing either. Unless, of course, you spend the whole time thinking about running a business with three other couples. Or being on holiday with them all.