Bishop Of Ostia

79 Nicholson Street
East Brunswick, VIC 3057
(03) 9388 8858

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If you follow medieval legends, you’ll learn that the Bishop Of Ostia is Pope Joan’s bastard child. So we come to find, with poetic irony, both establishments sitting side-by-side along a street in East Brunswick.

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For those who’re unfamiliar with either names, Pope Joan is a café serving some of the best brunch food in Melbourne, curated by chef Matt Wilkinson. Matt has a strong focus on vegetables and seasonality, which resonates closely with the sort of brunch fare I enjoy.

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And just as the café closes in the late afternoon, her ‘child of the night’ starts to light up, ready to water and feed Melbourne’s evening goers.

Bishop Of Ostia 06The Golden Axe Apple Cider $9 | Smokey Eel Sour $20
David’s pork scratchings $5

Cousin trouble & geek hubby recently visited for the third time this year. That’s how much they love Melbourne’s food culture.

While I’m always thrilled when they visit, I can sometimes get quite overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of new places that we’d cover together (that I’ll eventually have to blog).

Bishop Of Ostia 01Bishop Of Ostia Matt Wilkinson 0179Seasonal pickles $4

We planned (more like trouble planned) the food itinerary a few months in advance. I booked everything. On the night they landed, we made a beeline from the airport straight to the Bishop.

Bishop Of Ostia Matt Wilkinson 0187Salmon, avocado & peach $14 (day’s special)

We soon picked up that it’s more of a drinking place with nibbles on the side, rather than a place with a proper dinner menu. And quite different fare to what I’m used to at Pope Joan.

This dish half reminded me of eating fruit salads and smoothies with a hint of savoury salmon.

Bishop Of Ostia Matt Wilkinson 0188Bishop Of Ostia Matt Wilkinson 5278“The Bluey” Cheese dip, vegetables & crusty bread $12

Photographically, I always enjoy eating out with geek hubby (Clarification: Trouble’s husband, not mine). We have practically the same camera and lens setup, we’d sit opposite each other, and get very different perspectives.

Bishop Of Ostia Matt Wilkinson 5244Bishop Of Ostia Matt Wilkinson 0196Pork cheek, kimchi lettuce “san choy bau” $6ea

That’s also why this post is so photo rich, some of the photos are geek hubby’s, like the above snap of these juicy-fusioned san choi baos.

Bishop Of Ostia 05Bishop Of Ostia 03“Summer Slider” Prawn, cos lettuce, paprika mayo, pickles $8ea
Canarian style potatoes, kasundi & mayo $8

The food was good, but leant towards heavier flavours to match the drinks one would have at a bar. The summer sliders’ bun were just about as sweet as Asian buns, counterpointed by a tangy mayo.

Bishop Of Ostia Matt Wilkinson 0184Bishop Of Ostia Matt Wilkinson 0198Bridge Farm grilled asparagus, ricotta, flatbread $11

Like an umbilical cord attached to a navel, this dish was the closest to the vegetabley, farm-focussed theme that makes up Pope Joan. Needless to say, it was lovely.

And there’s Marek, in the top photo. He and another girl were the only ground staff that Sunday night… taking orders, making drinks, serving, cleaning up. And they did it flawlessly, effortlessly, with big smiles, and without breaking a sweat. It was just amazing!

Bishop Of Ostia 04Bishop Of Ostia Matt Wilkinson 5311Louisiana style hot chicken wings 8pc $12
“The Tom Allen” – Pig’s ear, chilli sauce, rocket, gribiche sandwich $7ea

A few days before this visit, cousin trouble, as irrepressibly chatty as ever, struck up a random conversation with Matt Wilkinson himself at a Gourmet Escape event in Margaret River, WA. It was a beach BBQ setting… and there was Matt, with David Chang (of Momofuku fame), cooking, getting tipsy and jolly. Once Mr Wilkinson learnt that trouble was going to the Bishop, he immediately told her we have to try the pig’s ear sandwich and that he’ll get his restaurant manager to take care of us.

It’s just phenomenal that, tipsy as he was, Matt actually remembered that random chat with cousin trouble. When we walked into the Bishop, Marek recognised us right away (with travellers bags and all) and took marvellous care of our group.

Bishop Of Ostia Matt Wilkinson 5243Bishop Of Ostia 02Deconstructed banoffee pie $10

This, my friends, is what good hospitality’s about. Treating every customer the same way you would welcome a friend. Cousin trouble was really impressed with Matt’s big-heartedness. And I’ll have to say it’s such a far cry from our not-that-nice experience at Pei Modern the very next day (read the ‘Addendum’ at the tail-end of my Pei Modern post).

Bishop Of Ostia Matt Wilkinson 0208Pumpkin ice-cream sandwich $9

While the banoffee pie was a good dessert, the star of the night was this dark horse of an ice cream sandwich, cleverly bag-wrapped like a school lunch. Compliments to Vanessa, from the kitchen, who created this dish. It was just gorgeous, with a lovely pumpkin gentleness, delicately dusted with dukkah.

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That Sunday night, we experienced beautiful hospitality in a comforting (almost intimate) setting. Thinking of our evening at the Bishop makes me smile, and from a restaurant’s point of view, that’s an absolute win. Even though I’m not a drinks and bar food type of person, there’s a decent chance I’ll be back to enjoy more of Vanessa’s pumpkin ice cream sandwich!

For a whirlwind account of all the places trouble and geek hubby visited, read this teaser post.

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