New doggery adds flavour to Fitzroy
What do a vegetarian and an experienced chef have in common? A hotdog joint, oddly enough. Matt John, the proud owner of two first names, went off meat in year four after a school excursion to an abattoir. But his business partner, Damien Thompson, has been a chef for 15 years. Together they created Phat Brats, although apparently the accountant came up with the name.
The menu—inspired by ‘business trips’ overseas—is a classic demonstration of opposites attracting. Matt even says of Damien, “If he was a girl, I would have put a ring on his finger by now!” To distract ourselves from responding with a crass sausage joke, we’ll tell you about the food.
Everything from the snag to the bun is made using original recipes. The butcher down the road produces the gourmet sausages, free from preservatives and other nasties. In the meat corner, it’s hard to choose between the beer soaked bratwurst with sauerkraut, the cheesy smoked kransky with German potato salad and the Wagyu chilli dog with ground beef loaded on top. In the veggo corner, sausages are formed from pumpkin, ricotta and tarragon or black beans, lentils and veggies. Buns (classic, seeded or gluten-free) are baked around the corner. Beer battered fries come slathered in melted cheese or spicy beef (or beans). Alternatively, skip the carbs and risk being judged by ordering a naked dog, where salad replaces the bread.
The space itself is laidback but effective, probably because Matt owns food and beverage design company The Anatomy. Once a greasy late-night pizza shop, Phat Brats now has high ceilings, exposed brick and licks of red and gold along the white walls. There’s another project in the making next door, but if we told you, we’d have to kill you. Phat Brats is expecting a liquor license in the near future, but for now we’re more than happy to get drunk on those delicious dogs.