Mr & Mrs Howell Brunswick is the latest restaurant to open on the increasingly diverse and evolving Sydney Road. Taking it’s name from the eccentric, wealthy couple on 1960s television series Gilligan’s Island, Mr & Mrs Howell greets patrons with a space that is suitably casual and eclectic, with assorted toys and nik naks dotting the restaurant.
The food is typical of dining in 2013 Melbourne. Fresh, seasonal and local. There’s no particular style to the food, however the occasional Asian flourish is apparent in some dishes.
Fried Potato & Buckwheat Gnocchi With Gorgonzola Sauce ($12.00)
This was a great way to start the meal. The gnocchi were light and fluffy and the Gorgonzola sauce provided just the right kick to them.
Tuna Tartare With Tom Yum Pickled Cucumber & Crispy Wontons ($24.00)
This was one of the highlight dishes of the night. The tuna tartare was very tasty and the dill evoked memories of Hanoi for me. The wontons were super crispy and not at all greasy and everything worked really well together.
Grilled Scallops With Black Pudding Crumbs & Almond Cream Apple ($24.00)
The scallops were very tasty, and the black pudding crumbs were a novel addition. I thought that the scallops and black pudding worked best when eaten separately.
Beetroot & Freekah With Meredith Goats Yoghurt & Mint Dressing ($14.00)
My wife and I both agreed that this was our least favourite of the dishes. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as the other stuff we ate. It was just missing something texturally – we both agreed that some crumbled goats cheese was exactly what this dish needed to elevate it.
5 Spiced Duck Leg With Sweet & Sour Orange Marmalade & Steamed Buns ($24.00)
This was without a doubt the highlight dish of the night. The duck leg was so juicy and the spiced skin was full of flavour and very crispy. Everything combined perfectly and I could have easily have eaten just several servings of this dish and nothing else. When and if you do visit, order this.
Jock’s Passion fruit Sorbet ($4.50 per scoop)
Does what it says on the box. Tasty sorbet, which actually went really well with the wine that my wife was drinking.
Mini Doughnuts Filled With Apple & Rhubarb Jam ($12.00)
I really enjoyed these. The dough was light and fluffy and not heavy or greasy at all. The jam was not too sweet and was very flavoursome.
The wine selection at Mr & Mrs Howell is very good, and the staff are extremely knowledgeable and passionate when it comes to explaining what’s on offer. The beer selection is solid, but could be better – this is not to say that the beer selection is bad, but it just hasn’t received the same kind of attention that the brilliant wine list has. I have a feeling that once Mr & Mrs Howell has settled into it’s place, that there will be some improvements in this area.
Overall, Mr & Mrs Howell is a very welcome addition to Sydney Road. The food was great, and if the impression I got at this early stage was anything to go by, it will only get better as the owners iron out the few kinks that any new restaurant is bound to have.
Service is excellent and all of the staff seemed just as excited to be working there as we were to be eating there. Nobody took themselves too seriously and it was all very genuine. It felt like a real “local’s” restaurant.
Mr & Mrs Howell
173 Sydney Road
Telephone: (03) 9381 0846
Dinner: Tue – Sun: 5:00pm to late
Lunch: Fri – Sun: from 12:00pm
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