17 Lacy St Braybrook, VIC 3019
|Opening hours||Wed-Sun 11am-3pm & 5pm-11pm|
|Features||Licensed, Outdoor seating, Cheap Eats, Breakfast-brunch, Bar, Vegetarian friendly|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Cash, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9317 7553|
Our West of Kin waiter sets down a pot of West City Footscray Ale and pours a generous glass of bright semillon sauv blanc at the table, causing my mate to pause briefly from her story about the sommelier in the swish city restaurant she wanted to punch (for barrelling over common sense with his diatribe on a particular Austrian riesling costing $160).
While West of Kin has high ideals about service and presentation, it's with respect to its whereabouts in the west (with a growing number of professionals who eat out as entertainment) and to what locals want – which includes supporting a local brewer or ordering a mid-priced wine without a lecture.
The set-up is an entertainer's dream: an L-shaped bar-dining space cornering a huge, glassed-in courtyard.
It's in a former factory, so the whole place luxuriates in space, with super-high ceilings and a massive wall of glass between the bar and courtyard that will make Modernism buffs tingle, but, then who wouldn't appreciate the unfettered function of fusing the inside bar with a full-blown backyard with lush lawn and a border of tables on white pebbles planted with succulents, all festooned by bulb-lights.
Add this to the list of great places to dine outside (the gas stand heaters might push back autumn's attempts to drive you indoors).
The non-bar arm of the space is the bricked-in dining room, secreted down the side. Here, they've installed an open-faced timber box-booth that you step into, with back-to-back bench seats. It breaks up the tall, skinny space and makes a cosy nook. Smaller tables are scattered around the floor, from where there's a view down to the kitchen pass – zigzag tiled in white.
The mod-Asian menu comes from consulting chef Sam Pinzone, most recently at Fitzroy's The Rose Upstairs, and head chef Alex Kim who added dabs of Korean – and who left West of Kin last week. It's a relatively short list, with seven small and six larger dishes.
Most of the small plates are single serves, so you'll need to halve the Sichuan-pepper seasoned beef tartare in its little prawn-cracker boat (making sure each of you gets some sticky quail egg yolk), and chop through the crisp-fried oozy son-in-law egg with kimchi mayo.
The prawn toast covered in sesame seeds, yuzu mayo and fresh coriander leaves is cut into three, so you'll still need to saw through one segment to share.
Among the mains, which include grilled baby barra with XO sauce, and lamb-leg tacos with kimchi salad, is egg noodles with aromatic star-anise-scented shredded duck topped with two fried quail eggs and a handful of fresh herbs. The herbs (mint, coriander) and two small sides of kimchi and pickled veg serve to slap you out of the rich, dreamy duck loop.
Without drinks, dinner for two comes in at about $60. That's three single-serve starters, a main and dessert – like creamy vanilla-bean panna cotta served with tiny cubes of grilled watermelon and pineapple, flower petals and saffron syrup.
That's all in a quite special set-up, and with smooth service. Go West.
Do … Try the day menu when much of the dinner menu is available, plus brunches and bibimbap.
Don't … Leave the dog at home; poochy will love the courtyard, too.
Vibe ... Big-city bar-restaurant in Braybrook.