North Melbourne is changing, and I’ll leave it up to you to decide if its for the better or worse. A plethora of “it place” brunch venues have opened up along the Queensberry / Erroll street area; Auction Rooms, Grigons & Orr, Fandango, Twenty and Six, Beatrix, Di Bella, Hot Poppy and many more… all within a 2 block radius.
However, a staple of North Melbourne has been Mr Price’s Food Store.
Now first, a disclaimer. I attended a cooking class that Gary Price ran over 18 months ago and since then I consider Gary a friend. It was with Gary’s help (and a few others) that I really gained in confidence in my cooking. More on the cooking school another day.
There are 3 things I love about Mr Price’s Food Store (in no particular order).
1. The location.
Gary’s restaurant is filled with his own personal art and literary collection. Each piece of furniture has its own story, even his stove has a nickname. Its a venue that people speak in low tones, that laugh at neighboring jokes and that eavesdrop on Gary’s stories.
2. The Food
Gary calls his food “uncluttered”. He has a knack of making it look simple while packing it with great flavours. His Welsh background peers through the menu with regular sightings of poached pork sausages, or hearty warm soups. He spent plenty of time in India and makes Apple Vinegar Duck Curry that is out of this world.
Key to the food at Mr Price’s food store is the menu. It is handwritten each morning and is filled with in-season produce Gary has picked up from the Queen Vic Market earlier that morning. Do you get any fresher than that?
Mr Gary Price has the unenviable task of being not only the head chef, but also front of house, the cleaner, the waiter, the story teller. People relish his food and but its his company that keeps them returning regularly. Or is it the food? Always full of gossip and despite his many roles, he is never rushed. If you loved the salmon linguine you just polished off he’ll most likely give you his secrets on how he makes it.
Mr Price’s Food Store is a unique spot and another favorite of North Melbourne.
Rating: 18/20 (8/10 for food, 5/5 for service, 5/5 for value)
Mr Price’s food store is on 502 Queensberry Street in North Melbourne and is open on Monday to Saturday for Lunch only. My best suggestion would be to book ahead (on 03 9326 8062) as the restaurant doesn’t seat too many and is quite often full with regulars. (Yes, a place that takes book-ins!) He also does functions and off site catering.
There is also a link through to a short documentary on Gary and his restaurant on Vimeo by “Documentary Shop” Check it here.