The temporary urban space in the middle of Melbourne’s bustling CBD has been transformed into a relaxing, chill-out eatery lined with faux grass and fairy lights twisting around trees on a background of a massive multi-storey mural of artist Rone’s enigmatic muse, model Teresa Oman. The title of this 70 hour work is L’Inconnue De La Rue – the unknown girl of the street.
Following the French theme, welcome to Rue & Co. (Rue, French for street and Co, short for Collins) the area which will be a 6-month pop-up home for three of Melbourne’s biggest names: St. Ali trading under the Church of Secular Coffee, Jimmy Grant’s and Kong, until something more permanent but equally as tasty is built.
I started off with St. Ali’s breakfast menu, trying the Daddy ($10) and #hashtag crispy potato hash ($7).
The Daddy breakfast bun with cumberland sausage, english-style bacon, fried egg & homemade brown sauce was great, the relish was sweet and tangy and went well with the patty and fried egg. The only changes would be to put it together on a brioche bun instead.
The Hash with smoked salmon & pepe saya dill crème fraîche was amazing. So well done (better than maccas!); crispy, fried potato-y goodness, and the salmon and crème fraîche were a great topping choice.
There is a space close to the corner of Collins and Exhibition which conveniently has a tree to anchor your dog to and is perfect to just sit against the wall and marvel at the beautiful weather, art and food in front of you. It just feels so comfortable, despite being in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city.
Returning for lunch, I doubted I could be even more impressed by what was presented. How wrong I was. Kong is da fuckin’ bomb, I am so keen to eat the shit out of their restaurant when they open up in Richmond in late May.
We tried the Steamed buns (2pc $11) 16hr smoked brisket, kewpie, walnut ssamjang & wombok kimchi which were so damn good. The dough is perfect: soft, fluffy and semi-sweet – I was tempted to ask for the plain bun on its own. The filling was great and the sesame sauce with the chilli sauce popped the flavours well. The brisket meat was tender and there wasn’t too much carrot to overpower the tastier additions to the bun. I have been dreaming of these since I left.
I wanted to get another Steamed bun but decided to try the other options on the menu; enter the Kong Bo Ssam peanut butter crusted tofu, pickled cucumber & spring onion served with kimchi, ssam jang & butter lettuce. The tofu at first wasn’t anything special, but the subtle peanut crust made things quite interesting. It was quite a firm piece of tofu steak, rather than my preferred silken tofu option. The stand out was the Ssang Bo sauce, I can’t fan girl enough over its amazingness. So much spice with depths of pan-fried flavours, I would buy this alone if I could. The radish was refreshing and the kim chi was appropriately spicy and tasted great. I suspect this dish was meant to be put together on a lettuce leaf like a San Choi Bao but I just ate it separate which worked fine.
Lastly were the Korean fried wings with honey, garlic & sesame. These were fried to perfection but so plump with lots of meat to enjoy. The sauce was sticky sweet, hinting the Peking duck sauce, but heavier in body due to the savoury garlic. This sauce got everywhere but was delicious to lick off your fingers, so win-win.
TL;DR I can’t wait to return to Rue & Co. to continue eating my way through the stalls.