Oscar Cooper appeared on my radar quite recently when I paid a visit to the offices of Dos Blockos craft brewers – watch out for a blog post coming soon on this Prahran hot spot. Located just off Chapel Sreet on Greville Street (a few shops past Ladro and across the road from St Edmonds) this under-construction venue was quickly getting ready for business.
Owners Paul Butera (the guru behind the very affordable cocktail list) and James Barone come to the venture with a strong background in hospitality and the two previously working together at The Collection, which James bought when he was 24 and built from the ground up over six years. The Collection was sold a few years ago and now all time is being invested in the new Greville Street eatery – named after the pair’s two dogs.
Looking at the menu, it’s clear the team are working with some top Vic producers. Coffee comes via Small Batch and they have a rotating guest grinder which will feature a smattering of local roasters. With milk from Jonsey’s, bread and cakes from Noisette and Phillipa’s, it’s well worth your time to just drop past on the way through.
What really caught my eye was the drinks list. That usually doesn’t happen with me but I have had a few conversations with people recently about having such an amazing source of wine and beer right on the doorstep – yet there are so few venues that utilise them to their full capacity. What I am saying is that If I had a wine bar I would look to use Australian and NZ wine and beer exclusively. Oscar Cooper have done just that – wine has all been sourced from Victoria (although there is French champagne if you want to go a little crazy) and beer from local brewers Two Birds Brewing, Hawthorn Brewing Company and Southern Bay Brewers. This drinks list has all the paw marks of Tiffany Waldron (aka @BeerGirlBites) – Melbourne’s up and coming craft beer specialist who is working with new and established venues to tune up their customers’ beer tastebuds to what Australian and international brands are offering.
The interior is bright and airy yet not overly styled with a wink to Three Bags Full with their central communal table. Clean and comfortable with a plant-filled garden feel, it offers an outside/inside space and there is a large dining space out on the footpath. Large windows open onto the area’s best boutiques, but while the cool weather sticks around they have a nice little fire going in the main dining space.
We started off with a couple of the freshly squeezed juices which are a steal at $5 a pop. The Golden Pash – pineapple, apple, orange and passionfruit – was summer in drink form. The Buffalo Soldier – watermelon, apple and mint – provided a nice zing that was the perfect alternative to a wake-up coffee.
WordMonkey took the lead from the breakfast menu – baked eggs, ciabatta, spicy tomato sauce with chorizo, roast capsicum, Spanish onion and feta. The mix of ingredients were cooked perfectly and she made special mention of the chorizo being great spicy quality.
On the other hand I dipped into the lunch menu and was torn (like the table beside us) between ordering the pulled pork with apple coleslaw, pickles and sweet mustard on mini rolls (which I have an aversion to now as the Asian pulled pork slider I had at Parlour Diner this week had a piece of bone in it that broke a tooth) and the dish I eventually decided upon – wagyu burger on a toasted brioche bun with bacon, cheese and pickle. This combination of ingredients was incredibly moreish and was the perfect size for one person to eat and then sit content that a precious weekend meal was well chosen.
Tables are easy to come by at the moment but there may be some wait on the food – but that is to be expected while the kitchen team manage busy weekends while still trying to find their feet. Oscar Cooper have set themselves up nicely just off the main shopping strip. Bring on extended trading hours so I can dive head first into the drinks list and I will remain a very happy camper.
Prahran, VIC 3181