Nestled away at the rear of Brunswick St, is a brand new Fitzroy gem: Little Odessa. Traditional Eastern European eats meets thirst-quenching cocktails. The hardest bit (apart from finding the entrance) is choosing what to eat off the menu, but once you settle in…trust us, you won’t want to leave.
Little Odessa is all about family living and communal eating. Which means talking about food, A LOT. It might be your mates, the friendly staff or even the couple at the next table—you're gonna be chatting about this menu.
For starters, the range is excellent. From traditional to the experimental, this dimly-lit diner packs a punch. Sibling team, Stefan and Sofia, wanted to create something different to the usual Fitzroy rooftop wine bar, while still showing off their Eastern Euro roots.
This means that, although the menu is undoubtedly delicious, some of the items are gonna test your Ukrainian pronunciation. Luckily, the attentive staff are on-hand to help you with any language barriers.
Take Borscht—a hearty beetroot soup made from stock, vegetables and beet sour. Don’t go past the Pierogi, either: made in-house every morning by Head Chef Nathan George, stuffed with pork and apple for the meat lovers or potato and cheddar for the veggos. We could eat literally dozens of these things.
For those hoping to go for some more veggie options, you won’t be disappointed with pan-fried asparagus with beetroot knoephla and garlic crisps. Don’t go past the salads here either, with fresh options like sour beetroot, cabbage, apricot and pine nuts, or cucumber, dill and yogurt to cleanse your palate.
The menu is split into different segments, from filling starters like the rye bread with beetroot butter (SUCH a good combo) or seared sardines and calf liver patè. For mains, there's an extensive choice of milk-poached market fish, braised veal, as well as a whole, roasted pouson. Not only is the chicken crazy tender, it's served whole and stuffed with pickled cabbage, pearl barley, dates and roast fennel.
That's something else we love about this menu: everything's so carefully curated, but it still feels home-cooked. Whatever you do, make sure to save a little stomach space for dessert. These guys do a wicked layered honey cake with honeycomb crumble (our personal pick), or there's chocolate cake, stuffed with plum + vodka jelly.
The menu might be tight, but the wine list is frankly humungous. Choose from an epic selection of natural wines or, if you’re feeling extra ~ fancy ~, treat yourself to one of three cocktails on the menu. The Strawberry Scrub Gin Cocktail was a standout: slightly sweet with a kick of hearty strawberry scrub (duh) paired with Tanqueray gin and tonic water. It's like a G&T with a twist.
Little Odessa is the type of place you can sit and stay awhile—unlike a lot of bars we could name. With the nooks and crannies: you have top pick of braving it outside, up at the bar or even window-side sunset views. The fit-out incorporates elements of metal and exposed brick, giving the space a rustic feel (plus the outside is licked in the most beautiful shade of terracotta red—perfect for the ‘gram).
Welcome to the neighbourhood guys. Where have you been all our lives...
Want to learn more about Little Odessa? Check out our Directory page.
Image Credit: Annika Kafcaloudis