Once upon a time, there was a street that was dark and dingy and without anywhere decent to eat. And then Liam Tomlin opened Chef’s Warehouse and you couldn’t make any reservations so that pretty much ensured that by the time you woke up from your Saturday afternoon snooze and wiped the snot from your nose you were out of luck. And no amount of plee’s or threatening to call the Weekend Argus Food Editor [as #Overheard] would be entertained by the polite and professional maître d. Then like some Fairy [#NoHomo] Godfather über-chef Liam and those very clever guys from Deluxe Coffeeworks artfully appropriated a few square metres of space below the warehouse and canteen that were just … you know like there. And while we may never know exactly what was said, we do know the results of said appropriation is now somewhere to head-to when early morning cravings hit you in a bad way.
Street Food on Bree may have opened in early May [sic] and since its first day has been serving a selection of some of the tastiest Asian and Middle Eastern food-on-the-go. Vibrant and colourful, fresh and flavourful, from sandwiches and wraps to salads and schwarmas; from tender, perfectly-spiced beef strips to succulent sweet BBQ pork. I don’t even want to whisper the word “healthy”, but it’s that, too. You might miss the doorway from Bree Street, especially if you’re intent on getting a table at Chefs Warehouse for lunch, but once you’re inside you could be in another city, country and hemisphere. The low-ceilinged dimness is lifted somewhat by beautiful blonde wood counters and a hatch which allows some light to stream in. Stacks of bamboo steamers and multi-cultural food market snaps on the walls hint at the fare served here. The entrance can get a little crowded when people are ordering, paying and waiting for their coffee and food – all in the same spot right by the door – but it sort of adds to the sociable street food vibe.
The downside is the food is sold out fast, so late lunches are not the order of the day here. Get there early. Like just after 8am when they open. And while up until recently most menu items have been cold (except for a few broth dishes), they give a varied and well balanced offering of everyday Asian staples of stir-fried rice and noodles. So if you’re one of those City Slickers or Hipsters fortunate to work in the City Bowl I suggest you get on your vintage Velorbis or Koga bicycles now and head on over to order a freshly squeezed seasonal juice Naartjie (a Tamil word for citrus) or grab an artisanal coffee made by the quirky bearded barista.