Tanaka Community Grocer duo opens Fenton Food & Wine in Carlton

Nesbert Kagonda and Ruby Clark, the team behind Carlton’s Tanaka Community Grocer, have opened a neighborhood bistro, Fenton Food & Wine, just up the street.

Chef Lubna Bahashwan prepares the dishes, most of which come from a shared farm in Clarkefield, just north of Melbourne. The meat and eggs come from Kagonda’s parents’ farm in South Gippsland.

“We write the menu as we come out of the garden,” says Kagonda.

Co-owner Nesbert Kagonda. Photo: Supplied

For now, that means Friday night “harvest dinners” and weekend breakfasts are filled with broccoli, fennel, herbs, beets and radicchio.

“Fennel is definitely our hero right now, but you always come across something unexpected,” he says. “This week we found pine mushrooms and slippery nettles and nettles.”

Bahashwan, who has Yemeni and Japanese heritage, draws on multiple influences for his menus. “It’s very creative, open, experimental and fun,” she says. Some of this fennel is braised with yoghurt and harissa for the dinner menu; it comes for breakfast as part of a celery and olive salad with egg, dried trout and fresh cream.

“I have a no-waste policy so we use everything,” Bahashwan says. “I just used carrot tops to make green carrot cake.”

The 40-seat bistro features recycled materials; the barn doors are hung on the wall “to give it a farmhouse feel,” Kagonda says.

Like Tanaka, which launched in 2020, Fenton focuses on social impact, with a portion of profits invested in community projects.

Dinner open Fri. 6pm-11pm; breakfast Fri.-Sun. 8am-3pm. Extended hours to come.

158 Rathdowne Street, Carlton, fentonfoodandwine.com

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