The handsome Brunswick building that used to be home to Rascal is reopening as Tino, a Latin American-inflected bar and dining room.
Highlights include house-made chorizo served with marinated peppers and tomatillo, an ever-changing ceviche using the day’s catch, and blue-corn focaccia with Tino’s own cultured butter. Pisco sours are $15 all day every day; the wine list also leans Latin.
Co-owner and chef Sergio Tourn moved to Melbourne from Argentina in 2004. He always wanted to cook but it took him a while to shrug off his accountancy qualifications. Eventually he swapped audits for aprons and jumped into work at a catering company. Tourn credits his time at Saint Urban with Daniel Schelbert (now at Mister Sandrino in Hawthorn) for his current style.
“Daniel made me focus on what was really important, concentrating on technique and extracting the flavours from the ingredients I wanted to highlight,” he says. “I used to feel like I needed 50 elements on a plate. Now, most of my dishes are three or four components. A lot of work goes into those and I try to make everything from scratch.”
The beef tartare exemplifies his new-meets-classic approach. Tourn dresses the beef with a morita salsa made with charred chillies and tomatoes, and uses avocado cream instead of egg yolks. “You get fresh and smoky flavours, almost like a beef taco.”
There’s plenty for non-meat-eaters, including corn salad with nettles and jalapeno, and a vegan red mole. This is one dish where Tourn breaks his three-ingredient rule. “This one’s close to 40 ingredients,” he laughs. “It’s so vibrant. My old boss [at Vamos Latin American restaurant in Fitzroy] made his mum’s mole for a staff meal one day. I adapted her recipe.” It’s served with charred eggplant, a savoury granola and house-made sunflower yoghurt.
Tourn has been working on a repertoire of Latin dishes at The Vale Bar and Eatery, the neighbourhood wine bar in Ascot Vale he co-owns with the same business partners who have joined him at Tino.
He feels Brunswick is the right place to push his modern Australian take on Latin cuisine a bit further. “I live around the corner from Tino and I used to hang out here when it was Rascal,” he says. “I feel like I know this neighbourhood.”
Open Wed-Fri 4pm-late, Sat-Sun noon-late, from September 9
341 Sydney Road, Brunswick, 03 9114 2817, tinobrunswick.com.au