412A Brunswick St Fitzroy, VIC 3065
|Opening hours||Wed-Fri 12–11pm ; Sat 8am–11pm ; Sun 8am–4pm|
|Features||Licensed, Accepts bookings, Groups, Events, Breakfast-brunch, Vegetarian friendly|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
|Payments||eftpos, Cash, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9416 4102|
To visitors, Melbourne's cafe scene is a luscious, lavish affair of sun-kissed bounty. For spoilt locals, our little eye muscles are starting to get RSI from rolling them at the sight of another smashed avocado.
Then along comes Nomada. This little minx has slinked in where Fitzroy's Hammer & Tong left off and has tipped the notion of a breakfast standard on its head. We're talking Spanish-inspired tapas. Tasty tapas that segue into slightly larger plates that can serve as snappy, substantial lunches alongside a good glass of wine, and on to dinner four nights a week.
Slip in off a graffitied side street and into the slender, relaxing, split-level room flanked by an open kitchen. Cast in pistachio and sandy neutrals with lots of wood and Spanish-vibing tiles, furs are draped over bench seats, enormous baskets of greenery sway above communal tables and cosy booths evoke sitcom snapshots. The sunken room at the back, more grey terrazzo and charcoal blues, has an airy but private feel about it.
It's cooling, it's finessed, it's special. What else would you expect from the equivalent of a hospitality supergroup? It's owned by Greg McFarland (ex-Kettle Black) on the pans and Michael Burr (ex-Bomba, Chin Chin) running front-of-house, along with Jesse McTavish (ex-Kettle Black) and Jesse Gerner (Bomba, Anada, Green Park Dining), who, combined, have more chops than a '70s barbecue.
The day menu is split into four segments, divided by price – dishes are $5, $9, $15 or $19, so you can feast like the Duchess of Alba and still come away with change in your pocket. Evenings are not much more.
Nomada is Spanish for nomad, and it pays to wander this luscious menu. It's a jewel box of bites. Breakfast on the clacked egg of the day – an eggshell filled with maybe wild rice, potato and chunks of ham under an egg emulsion. It's served on smoking hay and is a couple of teaspoons of heaven.
Housemade bacon is a hand-sized slice with a dollop of potato puree. There are house-cured sardines and blistered tomatoes with manchego. Blue-eye croquettes are creamy bombs of firm fish. A dish of serrano jamon is served with a luxurious, translucent cured egg yolk, sparkling fresh curd and firm, sweet pears. It's like the aurora borealis on a fork.
Bigger dishes include Flinders saltgrass lamb cooked on coals, and a hangar steak sandwich with celeriac, while dinner features a changing menu that can include skewers from the coal grill – say lamb with padron peppers and paprika salt – and market fish, alongside the snack-friendly pearls from the day menu.
The creme catalan is a truly gorgeous and unexpected interpretation – more like an aerated bread and butter pudding under a crown of freeze-dried fruits and sangria-poached pear. It tastes as pretty as it looks.
Melburnians are no strangers to quality cafe fare, but here at Nomada, there's something to be genuinely excited about.
Pro Tip: The chef's $35 feed-me menu is great, irresistible value.
Go-to Dish: Clacked egg on burnt hay ($5).