This is fucked. The best new restaurant that opened in Fitzroy in the past year (in my opinion), B’Stilla Cantina, has closed (along with its southside parent restaurant). Apparently at the main venue they’re going to. Sounds like a colossal waste of time and money to me. They’ve said nothing about B’Stilla Cantina, but it’s gone after trading for about 10 months.
A review through theirreveals a new ‘bar menu’ was introduced in early August, their posts are all about cocktails and the space is now called Little Hop. The signage is gone and the facade has received a new red coat of paint.
With respect to Palinka, Saba’s, the Stone hotel, the new Marquis of Lorne, Miss Katie’s, Mighty Boy, Major Major, Archie’s All Day, Sir Charles and many others, nothing else has impressed me or made such an addition to the variety of food in Fitzroy as B’Stilla Cantina: a different cuisine and a clever use of an existing small space (the original home of the now mega chain San Churro).
You can group most of the above into two categories: pretentious cafes where food is presented as art and gentrified pubs. Both have a hipster influence. In contrast, food announcing itself having an origin, a tradition, is rarer and thus more precious.
I like originality, like that on offer at Shifty Chevre, a wine and cheese bar. There’s only one of those in Fitzroy. There are other bars specialising in rum, tequila and Australian made artisinal spirits and jaffles. Cute.
Of course not every original thing works. The G&Tea gin bar looked like an awkward failure (though it is apparently being relaunched) and its popup replacement, Bob’s Hot Box, didn’t seem to survive its planned opening period.
As far as a customer can tell, B’Stilla Cantina didn’t fail as such. It was often busy and was positively reviewed. But it evidently didn’t meet its owners’ financial projections, or was possibly just an experiment that was not expected to endure.
There was only one Moroccan restaurant in Fitzroy, and now it’s gone. If you value diversity, consider spending some of your socialising money at venues with some originality. Recommended recent openings providing different cuisines include Hungarian (Palinka) and Ethiopian (Saba’s).