Melbourne has a way with shipping containers. We’re used to drinking in them (see Section 8 and Arbory) and now we can eat in them. Rudimentary – a cream-and-caramel-coloured shipping container conversion – has sprouted up like a metallic mushroom on the site of a former car park in Footscray. Yes, it’s in once rough-as-guts Footscray: an area known for its plethora of cheap Vietnamese street eats, not its banging brunch spots.
We wish we were one of the lucky locals, contentedly nesting here with their Macbooks and Small Batch Roast lattes. Those locals get seven-day access to chef Shane Donelly (owner of nearby Yellow Ledbetter café; ex-Duchess of Spotswood). Any man who serves up a breakfast dish of braised pork belly is all right by us, especially when pork scratching-style pig’s ear crisps, two perfectly fried eggs, red chilli shards and a slice of sourdough, licked with sweet-sour tamarind sauce, are added to the mix.
We’ve got a beef with pork-loving Shane, though. How are we supposed to choose between a sourdough toastie with Gypsy ham, house-made waffles with crunchy pancetta, or that pork belly: butter-soft in one mouthful; pork-toffee-caramel chewy the next? Shane, you’re making pigs of us.
It’s not all pork a-go-go, though. A refreshing dish of ocean trout – house-cured with salt, sugar and a secret spice blend, served on a Nike swoosh of tangy beetroot sauce, with puffs of crème fraîche, purple discs of peppery radish, pickled cucumber rolls, sweet nashi slices and brioche – acts as an oceanic palate cleanser.
Thankfully, the inevitable over-ordering (we demolish three breakfast dishes between two, and leave with house-made salted caramel doughnuts) won’t sting your wallet: $17 for the pork belly is the menu’s loftiest moment.
Owner Desmond Huynh’s background in architecture sings through in Rudimentary’s impeccable styling: mid-century leather desk chairs in beguiling shades of petrol blue, sand, taupe and olive; an old-school wall clock; orchids; battered office lockers doubling up as a table in one corner. Even the Stüssy-shirt-clad waiters are eye-bogglingly handsome.
We want to sit here daily and admire the waving lucky cat, the exposed filament bulb lights and the chefs nipping out to pluck herbs and veggies from the planter boxes. On sunny days, we want to idle in the AstroTurfed garden. Above all, we want more of that porcine menu. This is Footscray 2.0.