So, you could stomp around South Melbourne Market, haggling for your five-dailies, or you could sit down at Shop 13-14 in the food hall and sink your teeth into a juicy Proper & Son roast roll instead.
Opt for the signature brisket roll. A brioche bun stuffed generously with meltingly soft Wagyu brisket. Mustard mayo, radish, red cabbage, red sorrel, white onion and a side of pickles counteract the meat's richness. This is not a pretty thing to eat: bits and bobs will fall from the bun and brisket juice will spill onto the steel plate – embrace that.
Salty fare calls for a long glass of refreshment. Try one of the house-made sodas: petal-pink rosehip and mint, whose tart sweetness is as delicate as fruit tea, or the zingy orange-and-rosemary number. Orange pulp, soda water and a giant rosemary sprig add up to something surprising – a hyper-orange flavour that’s as tropical as pineapple.
There’s a daily changing array of salads, too. Irish chef and owner Eugene Lavery – previously at beachside bistro Cafeteria in Black Rock, Lynch's Restaurant (now Entrecôte) in South Yarra and the glitzy Ivy in London – takes his cues from what's available from the market stalls each morning.
Quail, lentil and grape salad is served on a white and blue enamel plate. Little hits of acidity come via shards of sweet, fruity fennel as sharp as pickled apple, and tiny cubes of diced carrot, dressed in red-wine vinegar. This is a brilliant autumn dish, from its earthy brown, purple and green colour scheme to its perfect balance of gamey, sweet and sour flavours. Our one complaint: the roast quail is a tad dry.
In contrast to the neighbouring gaudy market stalls, the café space and its open kitchen are styled with bleached wood and dazzling white walls. It’s a fuss-free backdrop for Eugene’s colourful, flavoursome food – on offer at equally tasty market prices. Proper brilliant.