Bianca + Alex: Melbourne you do breakfast/brunch well. I’ll give you that. Over a monster 16 days Melbs became our home, we rented ourselves a cute little Airbnb apartment in Northcote and that became our base to springboard off into many eating adventures.
Alex allowed me my burgers and a fair few of them, so the least I could do was allow a couple of café adventures, whereby I became the biggest hypocrite known to man and COULDN’T stop ordering the avocado on toast, literally…every single place.
We had lists and itineraries, let me rephrase “I had lists and itineraries”, I may be the most painful person to travel with but I’m nothing if not thorough and efficient, sorry Alex.
We’ll intersect some tourist(y) shots in here as well just so ya’ll can see that we did do other stuff as well as all the eating.
Long Story Short Café have a pretty decent menu but the main reason for our visit was to get our hands on their rather famous Sisko Hot Chocolate Sphere with marshmallows $11.50. Yep you’re paying the big bucks but for a midly entertaining and theatrical spectacle it’s kinda worth it.
Chez Dre is on the lips of many when you utter the words ‘brunch’ and ‘pretty’ in the same sentence. I was slightly more excited for my visit to their patisserie just adjacent ‘Bibelot’. But my two weeks of eating meant I couldn’t go full on fatty and had to reign myself in. Alas, a normal breakfast consisting of two dishes. For Alex, ‘The Avo Luxe’ –avocado, whipped goats cheese, spiced nuts & grilled sourdough $16.50. A fancy pants version of the humble avo on toast and a pretty good one at that. We realised that Melbourne-ites like to serve their avo on T ‘diy-style’ which we disliked. We are lazy and don’t want to work for our food. I had the ‘Chorizo & Smashed Peas’ –poached eggs, lemon & parsley, mint, chevre & toasted sourdough $19.50. Turns out smashed peas aren’t really my cup of tea first thing in the morning but the chorizo and the poached eggs were a winner.
We made a beeline for Port Melbourne after breakfast and marvelled at the beauty that is Princes Pier. We may have staged a minor photo shoot but it was freezing and the weather was a little crazy!
What do fabulous people eat for breakfast? Fairy floss…that’s what!! Oasis Bakery was our pit stop on our way down to the Mornington Peninsula. Basically a café attached to a Middle Eastern supermarket/bakery. So don’t expect to be blown away by the décor or the buildings façade. On our hit-list, the ‘Carnival Hotcakes’ – Salted caramel sauce, honey popcorn, toasted marshmallow and fairy floss $15.90. They sure looked pretty but way too intense for breakfast, the flavour of the hotcakes were unlike anything I’ve eaten before either.
I’ll order anything with peanut butter and I was already getting the laser eyes from Alex (meaning I was being directed to order this). The ‘PB + J Waffles’- raspberry compote, peanut butter parfait, grape molasses, fresh raspberries and Persian fairy floss $14.90. More up my alley, with crispy waffles and the sharpness of the compote adding some much-needed relief from all the sugar. Also… I’m pretty sure Alex offended half the staff when he asked if they “served bacon”…. Hahahaha.
Side-note the Mornington Peninsula is gorgeous, go..go now!
Everyone knows about The Kettle Black, they’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head in terms of architecture and décor. But how’s the food? Service was rude and abrupt and that left a pretty sour taste in my mouth but I can mostly look past that when the food is good.
I had the ‘Seasonal Avocado with citrus, toast & local kelp salt $13. I find it rather hilarious that a few extra words can turn Avo on T, to total wanker material. Cute presentation but again, why am I going to a café and ordering this, only to have to put it together myself AND PAY FOR IT… Alex went with the hot ticket and pretty much the most instagrammed dish in Melbourne. The ‘Hotcake with Ricotta’ –blueberries, pure maple , double cream & seeds $18. This is the dish to order! The maple syrup was in abundance, maybe slightly OTT but the varying textures kept you interested in what could be considered an overwhelmingly sweet and heavy dish. We later had a few renditions of this dish (read on) and they all pipped Kettle Black at the post. Soz.
One café I was bursting at the seams to get to was Stagger Lees, with backing from heavy hitters from the folks at Proud Mary I was satisfied we’d be in for a treat. Like most places we’d come across in cafes in Melbs, service was slightly haphazard and a little cold. We were forgotten here, twice. This was less brunch more lunch. The ‘Spring Simple’ –seed and sprout toast, heirloom tomatoes, hass avo, charred corn, vurnt lime & jalapeno dressing, corn husk ricotta and spring herbs & flowers $17.50. One that made you feel healthier with each bite and at that point we needed all the vegetables we could get our hands on. Harkening back to my Mexican obsession days, I went with ‘The Mexican’ – soft shell corn tortillas, charred corn, lime & tomatillo salsa, avocado, fried eggs, crème fraiche and herbs $16.50. Better tacos than I have had a most Mexican restaurants! I wish I had the stomach capacity to fit in the Willy Wonka Waffles but it just wasn’t going to happen. If you’re planning some eating around Brunswick move this up the list.
Been to Abbotsford in Melbourne? Neither had we! Kitty Burns is a recent addition to Acacia Place, a booming apartment development. The joint is SLEEK, minimalist and one that’s going to cause a frenzy when word spreads. We had a rowing date booked soon after so we needed substantial fuel.
Beginning with ‘Spiced Togarashi Avocado’- citrus, umami salt, avocado & edamame smash, toast $13.50. With added Bacon Crumbs $2. Another DIY job but one I’d happily do again. The bacon crumbs were genius, what a way to elevate a dish.
The ‘Eton Mess’ –coconut yoghurt, strawberry textures, spiced meringue, activated buckwheat clusters, wild orange and goji berries $14.50 was all Alex. I’d never eat something so pretty. The yoghurt was the main ingredient so the predominant flavouring was coconut, varying textures made this a little more interesting, with each bite different from the last. A favourite of Alex’s but not one that would get me back.
Lastly the one that sealed the deal for me and got me in the café in the first place.‘French Toast with Coffee Ganache’ –compressed and freeze-dried peaches, whipped maple syrup & quince $16.50. The coffee flavouring was muted, the toast forgettable, the fresh peaches with the quince were a highlight. Make sure you go for a wander around the bike path along the Yarra, just down the stairs.
And then the rowing occurred, we may have gone head first into a few low hanging branches but thankfully it was during the week and no-one saw.
Alex was expecting a spaceship when we rocked up at Common Galaxia but no, just a regular café. Yet again we couldn’t avoid the inevitable ‘Avocado’ –Ruby grapefruit, marinated goats cheese, basil, soy almonds, red onions & radish on sourdough $17 with a poached egg $2.50. Hands down the best version we had in Melbourne. Firstly on my toast, so no extra work, the combination of the almonds and goats cheese really elevated this. Wasn’t too keen on the super sour grapefruit but I understand why it was added.
Sweeties for breakfast? Bianca now says YES! The ‘Raspberry & Ricotta Hotcake’ –mandarins, berries, clotted cream w/ orange maple syrup & strawberry dust $16 was a real winner. You are essentially eating cake for breakfast but delicious cake at that. Slightly sweeter than Kettles version but the differing fruits and the addition of the raspberry gave a sharper bite.
Touted as ‘healthy but approachable’ I approached Legacy in Camberwell with some trepidation. I needn’t have feared. Alex wanting to get some vitamins in before the burger crawl the next day chose the ‘Acai Power Bowl’ – coconut infused yoghurt, mango, kiwi fruit, strawberries, blueberries, banana, chia seeds, granola & hazelnut crumb $16. Which left him slightly disappointed, more yoghurt than acai. I couldn’t eat any-more avocado and so went with the ‘Sweet potato, Kale & Amaranth Fritters’ – served with goats cheese and Kaiser Bacon $17.50. A generous serving and one that even shared I struggled with. Plump and juicy fritters that were amped up by the salty bacon. We were also harassed by a lady amused by our photo taking. Alex was unimpressed…
SOS Café literally touting themselves as saving souls, cough, ahem, was one of Alex’s picks. Namely for the acai bowl. If people watching is your jam you’ll love the outdoor courtyard seating, many a people in gym clothes getting their coffees and smoothies. We were joined the last few days in Melbourne by Mumma FFS who’s equally enamoured with the brain freeze inducing ‘Acai Bowl’ $15. This got rave reviews from both so if you’re into slurping flavoured water then head over. I was in the midst of a pretty bad cold so I was a bit of a grump which may have impacted on my thoughts (but I doubt it), I had ‘The Avo’ – w/ black sesame & pumpkin seeds, lemon & Meredith goats cheese $17. That is SEVENTEEN dollars for one slice of toast with some avocado. The goat’s cheese non-existent, the bread was super tough, I struggled to cut my toast with the dingy blunt knife I was provided with. I was not happy.
We had driven past BARRY virtually every trip in and out of our apartment in Northcote, so it was fitting it was to be one of our last meals in Melbourne. Monday at 10:30am they were packed, which bode especially well for the food, service again was curt and not particularly friendly. We were feeling slightly industrious so we ordered four dishes. Mum went super healthy with her ‘Poached Free Range Eggs on Toast’ $9.5. Which was um, exactly as stated on the menu. A single slice of toast with two eggs, nary a decorative lettuce leaf in sight. That was ALL mums….
As luck would have it the menu has recently changed so excuse me while I go slightly rouge to describe the dishes ordered. The ‘Zuchhini & pea Fritters’ –w/a poached egg, minted yoghurt were particularly hearty and great for those in for a substantial feed. Another surprising favourite was the ‘Peanut Butter granola’ –w/pear, berries and sheep’s milk yoghurt. The peanut butter granola was actually out of this world, so much so, mum enquired as to whether they sold it. Nein! Such a shame. I would never think to order cereal out at a café but if this was on offer I might change my mind. And finally, I saved the best for last.
The ‘Ricotta Hotcake’ –w/citrus fruits, mint crème $18. The best rendition I have come across thus far. Studded with generous pieces of ricotta, whilst not leaving you feeling heavy. The peaches were gorgeously plump and aided to lighten the dish. I was intrigued by the dried fruit, almost like a roll up. Worth the wait for a table. And I freaking love NORTHCOTE!
Melbourne, your cafes are gorgeous, your food is great, your people are slightly nosey but we’ll be back for more hotcakes soon!!
Photos by Alex