[invite] Bianca: I must say, I didn’t really know what to expect when we received an invitation to dine at Monte Alto, Crows Nest. A cafe by day and bar by night, with one of the largest collections of Whiskey and Gin on the north shore. It’s a cosy space, bright and airy during the day but I could see it transforming into an intimate space once it gets dark.
Making the most of the breakfast and lunch menu, we dove right in. Despite the cooler weather I was feeling like something refreshing and moseyed on over to the juice section, a Tropical $7.5 pour moi – w/ Pineapple, orange, carrot and ginger. And a Golden Glow $7.5 for Ness – w/orange, carrot, apple and ginger. Both made fresh and easy to drink.
We appreciated the left of centre Modern Aust/ Asian dishes across the menu, giving more interest than your usual run of the mill cafe dishes. We instantly zeroed in on the Serrano Ham, truffled scrambled eggs, creme fraiche, green peas, Grana Padano & arugula on toast $16 + 3 hash browns $7.5 + Coffee Rubbed Roast Pork $6.5 + smashed avo $5. A generous serve for the initial $16 before I got carried away and added everything under the sun. I tend to shy away from scrambled eggs, typically finding them heavier but the combination of the fresh peas and arugula really aided to lighten the dish up. Fried potato, check! But I was really impressed by the coffee rubbed roast pork, tender unctuous pieces of pork that melted in the mouth. We did find the smashed avo under seasoned, however, a minor quibble.
Also from the breakfast menu, the Brioche French Toast -w/ creme fraiche, fresh fruits and coulis $15. The base was a strong one, the french toast soaked through and tasted almost like a cinnamon doughnut. But where it fell a little flat was in its accompaniments. This really did need some form of sauce or syrup as it was dry. The fresh berries and dollops of mango coulis did add some varying flavour but not enough to really impact the dish on the whole.
Ness had a wicked craving for some sort of pesto pasta situation, so it was a no-brainer. Basil Pesto Spaghetti -w/ pine nuts, ricotta, cherry tomatoes & baby spinach $17. The pesto was great, a fantastic balance of herbs and the ricotta adding some creaminess, there’s nothing worse than a grainy pesto! The tomatoes adding an acidic note to cut through all the heavy flavours.
And finally, the dish we ordered on a whim. Who knew it would be our favourite. Parmesan Chicken Schnitzel -w/ ghee, asian slaw, chips & mushroom sauce $23. So mumma squads is the seminal queen of the Schnitz in our lives and it’s hard to find one that can compare. But sorry Mumma, you’ve been beat! The chicken breast was wonderfully juicy, super crispy. The chips well seasoned but the mushroom sauce was divine, really tipping this over the edge. I’d go back for the schnitzel for sure.
Definitely, one to check out if you’re in Crows Nest!
*For Food’s Sake dined as guests of Monte Alto.