It's ambitious for a new restaurant to burst out of the starting blocks throwing around the names of international nose-to-tail hotspots such as LA's Animal and Toronto's Parts & Labour. But the owners of Bedford Street, an early-to-lateish meat-loving restaurant and bar in Melbourne's Collingwood, feel they have enough runs on the board with Brunswick café Wide Open Road and Carlton wine bar Heartattack & Vine to attract the inner north's urban woodsmen to their third venue.
Co-owner Hootan Heydari is the first to acknowledge that Collingwood probably didn't need another restaurant. "What part of the world really needs another café or restaurant?" he says. "But Collingwood still has enough of that grit that makes it a fun place to be. What really separates Bedford Street from all the other places in the neighbourhood is it's an amazing-looking space. There's a lot of influence from Blade Runner, sort of mid-century red neon, and there's a lot of natural light during the day that makes it a really nice place to be."
For Heydari and Jono Hill's third spin they've partnered with long-time employee Mark Jacobson and head chef Daniel Dobra, formerly of Brutale, the Brix, the Royal Mail hotel and Greenhouse in Perth, a man known for his affinity for meat.
The menu gets its kicks on Route 66 with ranch butter, pickled okra, fried hot chicken on white bread and pork chop schnitzel. For dessert there's a toasted Wagon Wheel pie. For breakfast there's fried chicken and waffles with maple syrup and Bourbon butter, or a thick slab of belly bacon with roasted sauerkraut and fried eggs. Bar snacks include franks pickled in sweet and sour brine, "popped spiced chicken feed" and peppered kangaroo jerky.
They're throwing some of that kangaroo jerky into their Bloody Bedford Street, a Bloody Mary riff inviting gin instead of vodka to the party. Another carnivorous cocktail goes by the name of Bacon and Eggs (bacon-washed Bourbon, thyme syrup, lemon and eggwhite with a dash of bitters).
After the poetic flourishes of their existing businesses, calling the newcomer Bedford Street seems plain and unadorned, but Heytari says it felt like the right way to go. "Back when we started 12 years ago no one else was naming places after song titles but it's really common now. We were standing on the street looking at it, and it's on the corner Bedford Street and it just seemed right."
Bedford Street, 11-13 Johnston St, Collingwood. Open Mon-Fri 7am-11pm; Sat-Sun 8am-midnight. bedfordstcollingwood.com