I've been walking past Houndstooth on Johnston Street in Fitzroy for months and months and have repeatedly agitated for a trip out to sample their absurdly cheap delights. Finally, I managed to convince Cindy that it was worth a visit, and we met up for dinner and a couple of drinks on a Wednesday evening. Houndstooth isn't your typical restaurant: for starters it's ridiculously cheap - just $10 for two courses or $15 for three. Secondly, there are very few choices - basically there are a couple of entrees and a couple of mains on offer, with a weekly menu update. The dessert options are a bit broader, but still change slightly from week to week. In fact there are far, far more options behind the bar than on the menu. I didn't check out the wine list but the beer options included an impressive range of local brews including the full range of Mountain Goat and Grand Ridge stubbies. I'd come directly from a painful game of squash, so I was particularly happy to knock back a couple of cold, Victorian beers. The place itself is cosy (small) and is full of communal tables and trendy locals and all the ordering is done through the friendly bar staff.
But on to the food. Cindy opted for just two courses (main and dessert of course), while I went the whole hog and had all three. The Houndstooth folk are kind enough to make sure that one of the two options for both the entrees and the mains are vegetarian. It meant that Cindy and I were restricted to having the same thing when it came to the mains, but it's not often that half of the menu is meat-free, so it's not worth complaining about.
Cindy was forced to watch while I enjoyed the vego entree: a gorgonzola, thyme and caramelised onion tart. It was tasty, but it was more pastry than tart - I could have used more gorgonzola. Still, it was salty-licious and a decent start to the meal.
We both got a serve of the main: Middle Eastern chickpeas, peppers stuffed with cous cous, and asparagus with tarragon served up with a generous dollop of sour cream. The chickpeas weren't quite up to our recent standards, but they were still quite good - a nice hint of spice without anything too overwhelming. Throw in some deliciously fresh asparagus and enjoyable stuffed peppers and we had a ridiculously good meal for the price. And, without wanting to gloat, it looked a lot nicer than the meat option that some of the surrounding customers went for.
There were a few more options for dessert and, unsurprisingly, all were veg-friendly. I couldn't resist the pear custard cake while Cindy, somewhat predictably, went for the pecan tart.
Both came served with a dollop of fresh cream. Unfortunately I didn't get to taste Cindy's dessert (nor she mine), as they were both too delicious to enjoy slowly.
A word of warning: when we strolled in at 6:45 things were pretty quiet, but by 7:30 or so most of the tables were full. It might be worth making a booking if you're desperate to enjoy what Houndstooth has to offer (otherwise, you could always turn up and use Los Amates or Fitz Curry Cafe as fallbacks).
Address: 36 Johnston Street, Fitzroy
Ph: 0411 404 374
Price: $10 for two courses, $15 for three