Local Gastronomy: Melbourne’s The Town Mouse

linebreakA site rich in dining history (the former address of Andrew McConnell’s Three, One, Two and French restaurant Embrasse),  312 Drummond Street is home to a new venture that is already carrying on the pedigree. With a smart interior by Allistar Cox and food that is gastronomic, yet humble enough to be eaten nearly every day, The Town Mouse is relaxed yet elegantly finessed.

The Town Mouse Carlton

Christian McCabe of award-winning New Zealand establishments Matterhorn and Mighty Mighty masterminded the restaurant with the help of his sister Amber McCabe and her husband Jay Comeskey. Along with a central bar stocked with a formidable arsenal of local and international wines, The Town Mouse boasts a menu deliberately divergent from the nearby Lygon Street’s classic Italian fare.

Like many modern restaurateurs, McCabe struggles to pinpoint the specific type of ‘cuisine’, in the regional sense, that his restaurant serves: “It’s modern, which means it’s not necessarily of any particular place, but there are clear influences from Europe and East Asia,” says McCabe.


The Town Mouse

linebreakHead chef Dave Verheul, another New Zealander also formerly of Matterhorn, opted for an amalgam of European and East Asian flavours, already creating signatures like the dreamy goat’s cheese profiterole with caraway, thyme and “our honey”, and the venison tartare with pickled radish, nashi pear, ginger and wasabi.linebreak

The Town Mouse

“We opened The Town Mouse because we wanted to create a place where you could eat gastronomic food that didn’t involve starchy table cloths, bright lights and Celine Dion,” says McCabe. “Carlton, especially Lygon Street, has always been a destination for people to eat out… As with our other businesses, we believe that we have created a ‘local’ for many of our regular guests; a place where they feel at home and are proud to introduce their friends to.

“Going out should be fun,” he continues. “You should be able to drink a bit too much and stay up a bit too late and have some good banter with your friends, and at the same time be served some tasty food and interesting wine.”linebreak

The Town Mouse

Though intent on a casual atmosphere, the staff here are serious about the drinks list. “Drinks-wise we are largely wine focused, preferring small producers using natural or biodynamic vineyard practices. We list mostly European wines, with a smattering of local wines, largely because that’s what we like to drink,” McCabe says. “And we of course know how to make a decent cocktail. Our specialty would be ‘Our Aperitif’, which is something we make in-house by cold-macerating fresh strawberries with vanilla, star anise and cinnamon with orange juice, port, red wine and vermouth. It’s delicious and refreshing, and a great way to awaken the palate before a meal.”linebreak

The Town Mouse

Never content to rest on his laurels, McCabe has more plans for the venue’s future: “We are currently working on our private dining areas and also a rear courtyard for the summer months, which is exciting, too.”

The Town Mouse, 312 Drummond Street, Carlton Vic, (03) 9347 3312.

Words: Matthew Hurst, Dijana Kumurdian
Producer: Matthew Hurst
Photography: Sean Fennessey
Graphic design (menu): A Friend of Mine

2 Responses to “Local Gastronomy: Melbourne’s The Town Mouse”
  1. Thanks for posting about us, we are really proud to be on your blog!

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  1. […] that will appeal to the feminine segment of Melbourne food- & wine lovers. The blog roll of Vogue Living Australia dedicated a post on Melbourne’s Town […]

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