We snuck into Small Axe Kitchen early on Friday night, keen to find out if their dinner menu's as lovely as their daytime offerings. The menu runs a lot longer than I anticipated, in traditional Italian courses of antipasti, primi, secondi, contorni, and dolci. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes are well labelled; vegos are best catered to in the antipasti and contorni, while the gluten-free stuff is concentrated in the meaty secondi and the more veg-friendly contorni.
Once we'd ordered, they set us up with some light bread and fruity olive oil. Potato croquettes ($4 each) arrived soon after, perfectly squidgy batons, with a dab of parmesan mousse and just enough rocket to counteract the richness.
Battered zucchini flowers ($22) looked almost like battered fish, stuffed with herbed ricotta - we expect they'll soon fall out of season. The accompanying salad was bright and slightly bitter, with radicchio, nectarine wedges and pickled radish rounds. Our side of braised silverbeet, black kale and chickpeas ($12) was a much heartier entree to the cold weather ahead.
Our favourite was the plate of fresh, housemade fettucine ($20), served with peas, broad beans, artichoke hearts, mint, mascarpone and ricotta. Splitting it was clumsy work but we both fought for our fair share.
For dessert, we shared a tart and tangy medley of grapefruit slices, mandarin jelly cubes and mandarin granita scattered with almond crumble ($16). It wasn't too outlandish to enjoy a hot chocolate ($4) on the side.
At dinner, Small Axe Kitchen offers almost everything we've loved there at breakfast - clear and appetising veg options that balance fresh produce with fancy touches, served by friendly and helpful staff. The only loss, for now, is that it's not so much fun to sit outside!
Small Axe Kitchen
281 Victoria St, Brunswick
Accessibility: There's a small step on entry. Tables are densely packed with a clear corridor through the middle. Tables outside have small backless stools, high benches in the front room have tall backless stools, and tables in the back room have ordinary backed chairs. We ordered at our table and paid at a low counter. We didn't visit the toilets.