Brunswick, the Lesser Known

Posted on February 3, 2010


For the past 2 years I had the pleasure of living in Brunswick, a gritty inner city suburb known in popular culture for its myriad ethnicities, shootings (gangland figure Lewis Moran gunned down at the Brunswick Club, strip club bouncer shot by unsatisfied customer…) and Mediterranean Wholesalers, the biggest Italian supermarket in Melbourne. While fully-gentrified Fitzroy clings to its bohemian past to maintain street cred, Brunswick manages to do so with no pretensions; its edgy cafes and boutiques sitting side-by-side older establishments run by first-generation migrants from Turkey, Vietnam, Lebanon, Greece and Italy. These photos serve as a reminder of my time there.

IMG_2869clearerBrunswick and its surrounding suburbs are home to a large population of Australians of Middle Eastern background. These neighbourhood groceries, quaint and familiar, act as both a link to their ancestral home and a treasure trove of Middle Eastern products like date cookies, Lebanese olive oil, instant falafel, Arabic coffee and an assortment of spices, two of my favourite of which are sumac – tangy powdered berries in a vibrant maroon hue, and za’atar – a salty mix of dried oregano, thyme and sesame seeds.

IMG_2872A coin operated laundry on Lygon Street, Brunswick East. I think blue is a very laundry and detergent-friendly colour, because we subconsciously associate it with water and cleanliness. Could this have informed the proprietor’s choice of decor?

IMG_2912If the prospect of sweet and yeasty things makes you happy, Sugardough is worth a visit. Popular with the locals looking for their weekly fix of cornetto – that’s Italian croissants, and custard bombolini – that’s Italian donuts. Why do things sound more delicious in Italian? Sugardough Panificio and Patisserie, 163 Lygon St Brunswick East

IMG_2909I just like how the red letters seem to remain defiant in the face of obliteration by time and neglect.

IMG_2986cropDripping with bohemian appeal, La Paloma is famous in equal measure for its obscure location, small space and homemade churros topped with thick caramel (or dulce de leche if we’re being technical). At $2.50 and for the size, it seems a bit luxurious; I’d rather go for the churros at Queen Victoria Market, at a dollar a piece, fried on the spot and piping hot.

IMG_2988Go to La Paloma instead for its famed pastrami salad roll, which I have mused shamelessly about in a previous post. La Paloma cafe, 259 Albert St Brunswick

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