Breakfast Indigestion 2: Eating My Way Through Melbourne’s Cafe’s
Admittedly being a pretty cheeky kid in primary school, instead of selling those charity boxes of chocolates, I ate them. But of course I had my morals so I made my mum pay for them… Don’t judge. My intentions were right. I was only saving other people from from an unnecessary amount of calories and I’d still do the same thing today! Hmm. I seem to be digging myself deeper into a hole here aren’t I?
When I arrived from my trip overseas, I was craving a heavy dosage of western food – and by western food, I mean a breakfast made up of poached eggs, burnt bacon, smoked salmon and butter clad toast as opposed to miso soup and sushi in Japan or longanisa and tocino with rice in Philippines which no doubt fueled my weary state at the beginning of each day. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved it, but I grew up eating rice every morning so a break from this routine now and then keeps me somewhat sane!
Since my first Food Battles post in in July 09, I still get over excited about conducting my monthly challenges, that often results in eating my way through as many eateries as possible.
“Why would anyone subject themselves through so much food in such a short amount of time?” I often get asked. My answer: I was born to eat, and by eat, I mean eat like I have an extra tummy hidden away damn it. There were a few challenges I wanted to undertake this time round, but nothing beats the liberating feeling of brekkie on a weekday. Would you rather be in your work cubicle burning under fluorescent lights or gleefully sitting in a sun drenched cafe courtyard rewarding yourself a heavy dosage of caffeine? And better yet, isn’t it great going to a popular cafe during a week day rather than queuing up on a weekend? Extremely tough choices, I know right…
You would have noticed the amount of ‘beaneries’ as I call them, that have popped up like ferrets over the past few short years. You know, the kind that have stacked up coffee bean bags in full view, distressed coloured furniture that are at times recycled, top end coffee machines, communal tables, clover coffee, award winning barrisatas and of course - industrial chic interiors with high ceilings.
The kind of cafes that instill the same amount passion that wine connoisseurs have about their bubbly. Take St Ali for example, who offer coffee degustation dinners. Who would’ve thought this would happen? Think Market Lane (try their San Fransisco blend), Auction Rooms, Dead Man Espresso, Three Bags Full, Seven Seeds, Dimitri’s Place and Sensory Lab to the ones I’ve mentioned in this post. I’ve been to each of them, but I thought I’d feature a few other local gems instead for this post.
Like how the X-men battled against the Sentinels (bad ass robots who were designed to destroy mutant kind), for this mission, the cafe’s my taste buds battled were:
Hardware Societe: 120 Hardware St, Melbourne 3000 Phone: (03) 9078 5992 Map
Stellini Bar: 198 Little Collins St, Melbourne 3000 Phone: (03) 9654 5074 Map
Le Chien: 5 Gamon St, Seddon, 3011 Ph: (03) 9362 7333 Map
Nosh @ Newport: 24 Hall Street, Newport 3015 Phone: (03) 9391 6404 Map
Cornershop Cafe: 9 Ballarat St Yarraville VIC 3013 Phone: (03) 9689 0052
Yes, I’m a comic geek as you would have noticed from a few of my previous posts, and yes, I will keep incorporating it into my posts. Why? Why not. I’m as passionate about comics as I am about food and will always try and find a way to blend both interests into my blogging world. It may not always work, but what the hell, it is a personal blog afterall. Breakfast Indigestion Part 2 had began in the west!
Details: 5 Gamon St, Seddon, 3011 Ph: (03) 9362 7333 Map
Le Chien was recommend to me by a friend. Considering its close proximity to my place and the serious jet lag that was consuming me, this was the first cab off the rank for my buds to defeat.
As soon as you walk in, the first thing you’d notice is 1. The colourful pop art that takes up the entire wall and 2. the amount of dogs and their owners sitting outside. I love restaurants that welcome pets by placing drinking bowls outside. A large percentage of my friends including myself have either a cat or a dog, so I’m happy to see that places are starting to cater for this ‘pets are welcome’ trend.
It’s actually quite dim inside this charming ‘bohemianesque’ styled establishment despite the large windows which is fine as Le Chien is also open for those intimate dinners.
The menu is short and to the point. Nothing overly complicated but with a few unique choices on offer. One of them being the Promite Special which is made up of Free Range Poached Eggs, Tomato and Avocado served on promite toast. I wasn’t a big fan of promite before, but I now actually prefer it to Vegemite. Please don’t hate.
Strange at first, but addictive the next. What looks like complex dish with flavours that may conflict, all worked really well especially with the sweet and subtle cocoa flavours of Coffee Supreme blend used here. In fact, without the added kick from the promite, it would have been a little boring. I’ve gone back twice just for this dish since. Help!
Next up was a custom built array of our choosing that included the nicely done Scrambled Eggs that didn’t soak the bread with its wateriness and wasn’t too rich in milk/cream but was still creamy and fluffy. Also joining the party was forest green Spinach and butter clad Mushrooms. Hello!
Le Chien has remained a local favourite of mine having returned a few times since for lunch and dinner.
Details: 24 Hall Street, Newport 3015 Phone: (03) 9391 6404 Map
I was quite amazed by the front page of the menu. Apart from winning more than a few accolades (Best Restaurant/Cafe 2009 by Hobsons Bay City Council, 2008 & 2009 “Breakfast Restaurant State Finalists RCV) – Nosh @ Newport also guarantees a service with a smile but more admirable, your food in under 25 minutes and using only local suppliers sourcing its meat from Footscray and veggies from nearby Williamstown.
Keen to try out the brekky specials, first off the rank was the Bruschetta of Wild Mushrooms with Goats Cheese, Sauteed Silver Beet and Goats Cheese. The mushrooms were pan fried matching well with the silverbeet and the intermittent sips of coffee.
One thing I have to say is thank god for the large and fluffy on the inside toast here. I’m getting a little tired of the hard sourdough breads now being served at most places nowadays. I mean, whatever happened to good old standard white bread?! The kind of bread that doesn’t require you removing the rock hard crusts. I digress.
The eggs served with the Smoked Salmon were free range but were a little too watery. I understand that it was poached, but it required some patting down with tissue as the toast was going soggy. The egg that accompanied the Bruschetta fared much better so this may have been a hit and miss. The amount of salmon however, was generous.
Nosh @ Newport serves a great coffee and would come back to try the Chili Scrambled Eggs. I have no excuse.
Details: 172 Oxford St, Collingwood VIC 3066 Phone: (03) 9417 5930? Map
I thought I’d might as well continue on ordering Smoked Salmon. Should I just change the title of this post to be The Smoked Salmon Battle?!
Another blogger hangout, Proud Mary is also fitted out with the industrial chic theme but is a little larger than a few other similar places I’ve been too offering more tables for couples rather than the common large communal table taking up the majority of space.
The first thing I dug were the colours of the coffee mugs/cups – a throwback to the nostalgic years. It’s small detail I know, but these minute details make a difference towards the overall dining experience. The coffee by the way is on point. Slightly bitter, an inviting aroma, full bodied, the right amount of velvety froth and creaminess, hitting you with that oh so precious, lick-able aftertaste that makes you think “How the hell did I finish this so quickly?!” Addictive my friends. Also incredibly presentable for the camera.
Impressed by the presentation of the Smoked Salmon with Poached Eggs, without hesitation, I took the opportunity to snap away with my camera like as if it were my child’s first steps.
The salmon appeared to be glimmering in the sunlight. The once a sea wanderer, was fresh, tender, brightly coloured and was a perfect companion to the beautifully prepared poached eggs all complimented by the zesty olive oil and lemon dressing. Impeccable.
The second dish was the concoction of luscious mushrooms, bell shaped poached eggs, crispy edged bacon and spinach speckled with little salt and not at all watery on the plate. Now this is how you serve mushrooms! Drool…
Next time, I’d like to try out the Creamed Rice Pudding that comes with mango carpaccio, lime and toasted coconut. Hello!
Details: 120 Hardware St, Melbourne 3000 Phone: (03) 9078 5992 Map
I’ve been meaning to blog about this place for some time now. If you had seen my tweets about this place, you’d know how much of a fan I am. Hardware Societe is definitely a blogger favourite and when you you get a chance to try their French Toast or their Toast Soldiers, you’ll see why. From the well thought out clean but cosy surroundings that would – accommodate a brunch with friends or a breakfast date – to the totally quirky way they serve tea!
My dining companion and I nearly chocked on our tea when the Deep Fried Brioche came out. You see, it looks tooth achingly sweet! However, once you dive in and soak up each piece of the crispy edged and syrup doused brioche with the mascarpone cream topping it the pop in your mouth pomegranate – you’ll end up wanting more. It reminded me of the sensation of popping candy. I tell you, one serving was not enough as we fought over the last piece. My friends know my appetite very well, so they are proactive when it comes to sharing food with me by ensuring they get their fare share! Damn them.
To offset the sweetness of the brioche, savoury dishes were in order. I love it when breakfast is served in a pan! The baked tomato was ripe and succulent which was a savior for the hash brown as I used it as a sauce. Whilst the amount of holaindaise sauce could’ve been a little more generous (only because I love my holaindaise), the salmon was on point as were the superbly done yolky eggs.
I normally get my coffee weak so I could get two cups without the felling of giddiness. The risk at other cafes? At times, a watered down cup of bitterness. At Hardware Societe? Quite the opposite. It had the ideal temperature, generous amounts of magical chocolate dust and an aftertaste that happily lingers on the palate. A resounding success.
Were my taste buds defeated? Yes.
This was a random find as we wandered the city streets in search of some decent grub. The great thing about Melbourne whether you’re in the CBD or in the inner burbs, you’re bound to come across a hidden cafe gem which is why it only took us five short minutes to find a decent place. Located in the realms of upper Flinders Lane towards Russell Street, the sounds of coffee beans grinding led us to Stellini Bar.
A simple order of Smoked Salmon and Poached Eggs came served with a wedge of lemon and drizzled lightly with olive oil and a side of good old Western Star butter. At times, I use this butter when making french toast at home.
The salmon had a slight hint of smokey flavour, but it wasn’t as delicate and tender as I thought it would be. I usually wouldn’t use the lemon, but in this case, a few squirts did the trick. On a plus side, it wasn’t too fishy and didn’t have the kind of smell and taste that would dominate the meal. The eggs however, were a treat being perfectly runny but still gooey as well as having that perfect bell shape.
If worked in the city, I would definitely be here for lunch each week to try out the rest of the menu. The place is quite small but it does have a large communal table if you plan to go with a group of work colleagues.
Details: 9 Ballarat St Yarraville VIC 3013 Phone: (03) 9689 0052
So the taste bud onslaught ended in the west of Melbourne. The charming Yarraville to be precise- one of my favourite suburbs in Melbourne and home to my new found hangout, the nostalgic Sun Theater. I found myself in a place where the queues are long but well worth it as I got to see some kick ass baristas at hard at work preparing what was to be the best cappuccino I’ve had in the west- equal to that of Duchess of Spotswood. Rich, smooth, flavoursome with a not so bitter aftertaste is long lasting.
The Cornershop, offering a blend of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean inspired cuisine, is definitely a local favourite, so popular in fact that bookings are only permitted after breakfast. There is a heated open air courtyard, with group tables. Inside, there are freshly baked goodies (Lemon and Rhubarb Polenta cake to Chocolate Ganache slices) on the counter bench and a gathering of vintage styled teapots ready for infusion. Did I mention that they do clover coffee after 3pm? Something about the place that gently hums slightly retro – take the the red leather benches against the lime green counter for example.
My gripe? Not sure how people cannot see that there is a queue. There were more than four groups that clearly disregarded this fact and just went ahead and sat down not even giving the previous patrons a chance to gather their belongings before leaving the space. Thankfully, the friendly staff here are vigilant about waiting your god damn turn by politely but assertively telling culprits to join the line. You tell em!
I’m a fan of the Baked Eggs at GAS in South Melbourne, so I ordered their version: Baked Eggs with Eggplant Kasundi Relish, Feta and Parsley. This was a hit. Upon first sight, I was wandering where the eggplant was. As soon as I lifted the yolky eggs, the aroma leaped out like a swimmer coming out the water for air. It was incredible. I thought it was going to be a little spicy and gooey, but quite the opposite. It was sweet with heavy hints of turmeric, ginger, cumin, a little chili and brown sugar.
Blogger Request: Can we have a choice Roti Bread with this? The accompanying sourdough bread was good but it would be best cleaned up with a bread that is much softer and flexible for some scooping action.
Another resounding sucess were the Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms.
Who doesn’t have time for meatballs? It was brunch, so an order of slightly spicy and deliciously saucy meatballs were in order. The rich tangy tomato sauce was cleaned up by the butter clad Turkish bread.
I’ll definitely be back to the Cornershop. Not only was the food a hit but the staff were welcoming despite the crowds. I’ll leave you all with the below menu to ponder over. Anyone for Black Rice with Banana, Coconut Yoghurt and Palm Sugar?
Were my taste buds defeated? Yes.
Overall, apart from a serious case of indigestion, hence the title of the post, my taste buds didn’t stand a chance against the popping Pomegranate that accompanied the Deep Fried Brioche at Hardware Societe and the Baked Eggs at The Cornershop Cafe. On another note, the unique and innovative menu at Le Chien had also won me over. Even if it weren’t a local gem, I’d still travel to the westside for the Promite Toast with Avocado, luscious Tomato and nicely done Egg. It combines all the essentials of an aussie breakfast minus the bacon but you can order this as a side of course.
It was such a tough call to make but just the like the recent initial AFL Grand Final game, it was a draw between Hardware Societe and Le Chien who both sent me to FOOD REHAB!
Who had the best coffee? Proud Mary takes the crown but runners up goes to The Cornershop.
All cafes featured had their own style and not one had terrible coffee or service, so I’d recommend visiting all of them to see for yourself. Let me know how you go.
So um, is there another place I didn’t feature but worthy of a mention?
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