Wednesday, 11 January 2012
Boo in Australia - Melbourne Breakfast/ Brunch (Fitzroy)
One of the things which greatly appealed to me during the planning of my trip to Oz was the idea of having a glut of breakfast options in Melbourne along the lines of Lantana and Caravan here in London. And the coffee, I was promised amazing coffee and Melbourne certainly does not disappoint on that front.
Being based in Fitzroy North for the duration of our stay in the city, Dench Bakers was my firm favourite in the area. Approximately 1 hour after landing, I was camped here, enjoying a latte and avocado and danish feta on sourdough with a large chunk of lemon and a sprinkling of chives. So simple and soooooo good. Dench are bread suppliers to many other Melbourne restaurants.
I also tried their veggie breakfast, (why don't I eat always spinach for breakfast?) and many of their sweets as dessert at our pre Xmas feast at Jamie and Tori's were from Dench. Some friends have heard reports of snotty service but I always found them to be more than pleasant and we never had to wait for a table. Dench - I miss you.
Perhaps our second most frequented brunch venue throughout the stay was Arcadia on Gertrude Street. They don't seem to have a website but Gertrude street is home to many small independent clothing/music/art type shops and is also where the Melbourne branch of Books for Cooks can be found. The above Arcadia eggs was lovely, I always marvel at the beauty of a perfectly poached egg having seen many failed attempts both at home and when eating out.
The Mexican eggs were fantastic, scrambled eggs with tomato, avocado and coriander on sourdough. They also have a bewildering array of lunch salads, sandwiches and sweets, though I never had lunch here, my visits were always early, whilst the lunch display were being assembled. Nice coffee and muffins too.
Just 2 doors down from Arcadia lives De Clieu, another real favourite of mine and many others, it can be tricky to get a table at weekends. On our 2nd day here we met Rob and Olly for brunch and were still completely jet lagged so I neglected to take any pictures. I had the Breakfast De Clieu, a board with boiled egg, smoked ham, gruyere, tarragon mustard butter and baguette with a selection of jams. Everyone else on the table had the Brunch De Clieu, a fried egg with pureed cauliflower and mushrooms with truffle oil, veal jus, bacon and sourdough. They all raved.
Other popular dishes include a pork neck roti and a Reuben's special. Everything on the menu sounds lovely actually and I returned to try more but it was too late in the day and they had stopped serving food (at 3pm daily). Still in time for a great latte though!
De Clieu is the newest opening from the team behind Seven Seeds and Brother Baba Budan, both in Melbourne's CBD, see my next post for my thoughts on Seven Seeds.
Also very close to where we were based, with Megan and Dan was Jorg. We went here on day 3 of our trip, the sun was shining and we had a lot of travelling ahead of us to look forward to. The food was not of the standard to which, by day 3, we had become accustomed! Megs and I both had baked eggs, mine with tomato, peppers and cannelini beans, the other option with puy lentils and feta. I was disappointed that the yolks were hard and, as always with baked eggs + greed, we burned our tongues. Other dishes were on the small side and with Dench just around the corner, I can see why we were the only diners on a Sunday morning.
Across the road from Jorg sits the Tin Pot Cafe. They are a slightly cheaper option (most breakfast dishes will cost around $20, around £15 when we were there, and Dench increase prices by 10% on a Sunday??!)
The above bacon with scrambled eggs was okay, I had an english muffin topped with poached eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach, yay. Good coffee but a distinctly average breakfast by Melbourne standards. They open evenings too which many do not and the menu read very well, friends concurred that they had heard good things of the dinner dishes.
Rounding up the Fitzroy selection is Atomica Cafe. I was hungover and in need of serious sustenance so I ordered the veggie breakfast with extra corn fritter and an iced latte (it was a scorcher and we walked there). The smoked tomato was a revelation and this was just what I needed to prepare me for the pub crawl ahead of us.
I hope you can see that breakfast and coffee is something the Aussies really take pride in and do well. It's one of my absolute favourite things about Melbourne and the average quality is far superior compared to the standard greasy fry up available here. Unfortunately for us Brits, the Australian dollar is very strong at the moment so you'll need to take plenty of money, but it really was worth every penny for me.
109 Scotchmer St
193 Gertrude St (Fitzroy border Collingwood)
187 Gertrude St
203 St Georges Rd
Tin Pot Cafe
248 St Georges Rd
268 Brunswick St