336 Racecourse Rd, Flemington, VIC
Opposite Social Roasting Company, in the corner, is Verb Cafe... also a second-hand book store. You won't be rushed as you sip their very decent coffee while reading the Sunday paper.Several interesting options on the menu: the classic Green eggs and ham ($10.50), the hearty Baked eggs with roma tomato salsa, goat's cheese, herbs and spinach ($10.50) and the healthy Granola with berry compote and greek style yoghurt ($7.50). Food portions are generous.
We tried the Big breakfast - parmesan pork sausage, tomatoes, grilled haloumi, wilted spinach, onion jam, bacon and fried eggs ($16.50). It was enough for a cardiac arrest... the dish probably would have been better with poached eggs. Sausages were tasteless and tough, bacon was over fried, tomatoes were even saltier than the bacon! Overall it was like those nightmare-ish plates of ingredients you could have prepared at home put together - one of the common flaws of big breakfasts. Why can't they be more like Madame SouSou?
The Breakfast Quesadilla - grilled tortilla filled with relish, cheese, bacon and a fried egg ($9.50) was slightly better. Tasty, but also full of fired ingredients. The side of potato parmesan roesti ($3) was disappointing. It was packed full of parmesan and thyme but I'm not sure why it was so hard, chewy and dry? Only the brown outsides were eaten in the end.
122 Johnston Street, Fitzroy VIC
Bean Ground & Drunk Coffee
The Commoner's food is Middle Eastern influenced… and things like yogurt, chickpeas, spiced lamb etc don't appeal to me much. Also, there's a very limited window of opportunity for breakfast so I had not eaten there before this, even though I've heard excellent reviews about how fresh and original the food is.
The place is small… I guess you could call it cosy. Service was prompt & friendly. Coffees were good. I didn't fancy the menu but that's just because I'm picky. Ended up ordering the Poached Eggs with spinach, crisp pancetta and Soldiers ($16). The soldiers were dripping in EVOO, which was nice but considering the pancetta was deep fried, I felt slightly sick after eating the dish. I guess unhealthy food is tasty though…
He had the Honkey sandwich - crispy pancetta, harissa, fried free range eggs, spinach and aioli($16), which had some spices I didn't appreciate. But he enjoyed it!
Babble Bar & Cafe
4b Izett street, Prahran, VIC
Offering a heap of dining options, this corner cafe just off Chapel and Greville St was bustling at 2pm. After a short wait, we were seated near the window, with plenty of newspapers to keep us entertained.
The hot chocolate ($4) was huge and chocolatey, but pretty sweet. Coffee was pretty bitter.
Breakfast is served to 4pm so we ordered the House Frau Omelette with sausage, salami, cheese, onion & mushrooms ($16.50), add a side of hash browns ($3.50) and the French Fruit Toast with mascarpone cream, bananas, strawberries & maple syrup ($16).
The former came without the hash brown (but since I was full from the hot chocolate I didn't bother asking the waitress for it). It also came really spongy and tough, despite us telling the waitress to keep it runny and not overcook it - she even wrote it down! Must have been like 4 eggs inside this ginormous omelette, which had decent ingredients.
The French Fruit Toast was ingenious, but fully soaked with egg hence really dense. It also caused it to be really soggy... but that may be due to the copious amounts of maple syrup the toast was swimming in. Fruits were delicious, but far too little to be actually promised in the description.
When we went to pay, they charged for the hash brown but took it off without fuss when we told them it never appeared.
Not too sure what all the crowds were for, in my opinion it's not worth going back to at those prices!
538-540 Heidleberg Road, Alphington, VIC
Their own house blend
Update (yet again):
The consistent excellent performance of the Banana pikelets won this place a new award. In fact, if you compare the photos, there's much more fruits than previously. If only there were more pikelets too... it's still too small!
You know the dishes are good when I order the same thing over and over again =)
I haven't been back here for awhile... was a little worried when I heard they changed hands. But to my relief, nothing has changed. In fact, I think it may have got better!
The Apte Scramble ($12.50) - scrambled free range eggs with fresh herbs and feta on toasted organic sourdough was a no-fuss quality dish. Unfortunately it was also not-much-excitement.
The Spanish Baked Eggs ($13.90) - free range eggs baked with cannellini, red kidney beans and chorizo sausage topped with a parmesan crust and Turkish flat bread was very "beany" and akthough good, was no match for the sweet food!
There's now a Mixed Platter ($15.50) - half serve of ricotta hot-cakes and banana bread... that's what you get when you can't decide between their 2 famous sweet breakfasts! The hot-cakes, served wuth poached seasonl fruit, honey and orange infused ricotta were as good as before. The banana bread had a coconut element to it, and was served with honey labne, pistacios and rubard. Best of both worlds? Maybe... but the next dish was the absolute bomb!
I think the Pikelets ($10.50) are new and I hope they stay on the menu for a long long time. The crisp, light banana pikelets with beautiful clotted cream, crunchy, sugared pecans and fresh berries was amazing! My only complaint? Such a tiny dish! I needed more... lots more!
There's also a whole lunch menu - including this lamb dish my friend ordered. But with breakfasts so wonderful, I haven't ventured on to the next page yet!
We went back to confirm the 4 beans rating (which it was) but only to find out a week later that the owners have sold this cafe... they're moving on to something similar in the carlton/brunswick/fitzroy area i think. Yay for me!
We had the big breakfast again - it was as good as before. We also tried the Smoked Tasmanian salmon with a corn, pea and feta fritter, with avocado, rocket and dill sour cream ($15). I it, except for the corn. But I guess I saw that coming from ordering corn fritters! A much less picky partner thoroughly enjoyed the whole deal.
Who would have thought Apte was an acronym for "a place to eat"?
There's a handy car park at the back (the little road beside allows permit parking only) but beware of cars trying to come out at the same time - it's a crowded breaky spot. Entry from the car park leads to a courtyard with crates of toys and kids' books. A little too child-friendly maybe?
Anyway, we managed to score a bar stool spot almost immediately but the bigger groups that came at the same time ended up waiting for more than half an hour. Service is amiable, and while the menus are not groundbreaking, the execution is zinging. Mayo, cakes, pesto, etc is made on site with excellent quality produce and ingredients.
The big breakfast ($16) includes 2 perfectly poached free range eggs, sausages that I surprisingly found nice, bacon, delicious house made relish (which you can buy in bottles), mushrooms, spinach (which had a bit of soil/sand taste still), tomatoes and organic toast - one multi grain & one white for variety.
After we waited pretty long for the eggs, we were worried our order of Ricotta Hotcakes ($13.50) to come after was going to take just as long. It came in perfect time. Not as good as Replete's let alone Bill's, but definitely better than Rathdowne St Food Store's. Plump, light and golden and served with poached fruit, honey and orange infused ricotta. Despite the dishes being generously proportioned, both plates went back clean.
Social Roasting Company
307 Racecourse Road, Flemington, VIC
You can guess from its name that the coffee is going to be good. 100% ethically sourced coffee, lovingly roasted and delivered by bike as part of a non-profit enterprise with an employment philosophy that favours the long-term unemployed.
To avoid sitting outside, we sat at the bar facing the street and craned our neck to see the menu on the huge blackboard beside us. The waitress had some difficulty understanding us but service was extremely friendly.
The popular dishes include Spiced lentil dahl with poached eggs and roti served in a terracotta pot ($13.50) and Baked eggs with hash brown, cherry tomatoes, olives, spanish onion, sliced parmesan, basil and chorizo, served with pide in a cast-iron skillet ($14.50). The latter was a tad overcooked and dry.
Another popular dish is the Pancakes with maple syrup, berry compote and honey labne ($13). The crumble of toasty pistachios was nice but the pancakes were hard. Maybe I'm too used to soft and fluffy ricotta hotcakes.
The Scrambled eggs with fetta and fresh chilli ($11) was good but not as outstanding as Le Chien.
State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston St, Melbourne, VIC
Located on the ground floor of the library's north-west wing, Mr Tulk (named after the 1st state librarian, Augustus Tulk) is a welcoming place for students, bookworms and business people alike. Huge, arched windows provide lots of natural light in this high-ceilinged cafe which has a communal table perfect for spreading out The Age if you are feeling anti-social or for holding meetings otherwise. There's also smaller wooden furniture around the communal table, 60 plus seats outside, a coffee counter and a large cold cabinet for takeaways.
The menu is kept fairly simple with a range of baguettes, flatbreads and scrumptious sweets, supplemented by daily specials. Case in point: Avocado on sourdough with fresh lime and black pepper ($10), Steamed egg with vegemite soldiers ($8.50), Porridge with banana and date ($10.50), Bacon and egg pizza.
We had the Corned beef hash with poached eggs and Dijon Mustard ($15). It was breaded and fried 'til nice and crispy. Together with the mustard, it was a match made in heaven!
The other dish we tried were the Zucchini fritters with labna ($9), add bacon ($4). Another place which serves over-fried bacon crackers!
238 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
From the ancient myth of Icarus, whose wings got burnt by the sun, to crazy people jumping in the Yarra for the Birdman rally, part of the annual Moomba festival to this small, cosy cafe with padded fabric panels and miniature vases dangling on fishing wire from the ceiling...
Genovese coffee hardly goes wrong and this is no exception. But compared to other cafes in Fitzroy, they need to up their game. Food-wise, the diverse breakfast menu goes beyond the norm of muesli, big breakfasts and pancakes.
The Coconut quinoa porridge with palm sugar and banana ($11.50) has a massive following. Other simple dishes include House made crumpets with leatherwood honey ($7.50) and Toasted Banana Bread with Coverture Chocolate, Hazelnut & Olive oil Spread ($9.50) which was slightly disappointing. Dry bread and oily, not very rich flavours from the spread. But then again, I do make the best banana chocolate bread myself... and I'm not one to be proud =P
More fancy dishes include Grilled kippers with fried potato and horseradish butter ($17), Cheese kranksky with bubble 'n' squeak and poached eggs ($18) and Black pudding with braised tomato, potato hash & fried egg ($17.50). The last one was delicious (so said the boy) - tangy, rich, tasty and hearty.
What Birdman is most famous for though, is probably their baked eggs. A choice from 4 combinations, they come in black metal skillets mixed with an ever-changing selection of accompaniments like braised beans and fetta or chorizo, dill, braised fennel and flaked trout and spiced tomato, broccoli and kaiserfleisch.
Oh there's Coco pops on the menu too.
172 Oxford Street, Collingwood, VIC
5 Senses Coffee
We found ourselves back here because it's convenient and the coffee is good... it's even worth the terrible wait for tables! After about 40 minutes, we decided to squeeze 4 people on a table meant for 2. On finishing our coffees, some of the bigger tables were cleared but the waitress offered us a complimentary muffin if we stayed at the small table as there was still a waiting list. Oh well, we're easily bribed!
This time, I ordered the green eggs on toast ($8.50) add herbed mushrooms ($3.50) thinking green eggs meant pesto scrambles but it was just the kind of eggs used. My (vet) friend politely told them green eggs are not healthier contradictory to popular belief! Really plain dish though...
The Hotpot - slow braised ham hock, bean & egg hotpot, crusty bread & butter ($14) was pretty good, especially on a cold, wet day like the day we were there!
So Proud Mary had potential to reach 4 beans last time. Unfortunately it's exactly the same this time... I have to go back to see if I can push it up.
Coffees were amazing. One of the best non-real-chocolate mochas ever! Saw the chilli hot chocolate ordered by the guy next to me on the communal table - with a real chilli slit in the middle placed on the side like a cocktail! So pretty, but I'll never order that again, not after the awful experience at Max Brenner's 5 years ago...
New season, new menu - we were warned food may take awhile but i didn't take long at all. The Crispy hash is still on the menu although it's sightly changed - bacon for the smoked salmon and bagna cauda for the crème fraiche. It's $1 cheaper too! Unfortunately, this is what prevents Proud Mary from proudly getting 4 beans. You know there's something wrong when aside from the egg and spinach, the bacon is the least salty part of the dish... You would expect the Italian anchovy sauce to be salty, but not the hash so you can eat them together. I thought the salt was unevenly distributed (as many places do) on my 1st mouthful, only to realise it was extremely salty throughout! At least the hash was well frid, unlike the overly crackly bacon - my pet hate... after all, we're not in America!
The 2nd dish redeemed Proud Mary, but do share this between at least 2 people - it gets a bit much after awhile as it is seriously rich and sinful! Cocoa bread and butter pudding with rubarb compote and amareto mascarpone ($13). The delightful consistency of the pudding went perfectly with the not-as-sweet rubarb and even the amaretto, which I predicted I will hate, went pleasantly well together (there wasn't a very strong almond taste).
Oh, the rubix salt and pepper shakers have been replaced by light blue (like the coffee cups) wooden grinders...
Nolan Hirte started work at APTE, where the owner invited him to be his business partner at Liar Liar, which was eventually sold to St Ali, but not before becoming hugely successful. So no doubt the coffee was going to be good, especially with that ludicrous 6 group head synesso!
Proud Mary is set in the industrial area of Collingwood on the corner of Oxford & Stanley Streets and the inside has kept that old warehouse feeling but the finishes are outstanding. Beautiful wallpaper, solid communal tables, a blackboard filled with all sorts of drinks including non coffee choices like granitas, milkshakes, smoothies, fresh juices... rubix cube salt & pepper shakers anyone?
I was told by my boss to order the Ricotta hotcakes with caramelised peach, white chocolate semi freddo and orange infused maple syrup ($14) and was expecting great things. Unfortunately though the semi freddo was delicious (especially coming from one who doesn’t like white chocolate), the maple syrup needed a stronger orange taste and the hotcakes weren't as fluffy as expected.
The Crispy hash, smoked salmon, wilted spinach, chive crème fraiche and poached egg ($15.50) was delightful though, especially the hash, which was crispy as promised. I'll probably order that again if I go back - not sure if it's because it was good or because there's not much else I would order…
12-18 Yarra Pl, South Melbourne, VIC
Named after Ali ibn Umar al-Shadhili, who is said to have kicked off the coffee craze, St Ali is first and foremost a coffee wholesaler, but part of the old warehouse space is dedicated to sharing the caffeinated love with the general public. Positioned in an otherwise nondescript laneway, St Ali has a spacious designer industrial look and feel, with a clever use of recycled materials to break up the space. There's an outdoor area, but it is not pet friendly. There's always a queue, so I guess that's why they started selling takeaway coffees from the garage across the road.
St Ali is one of the original third-wave coffee makers, distinguished by their dedication to extracting the best from coffee in its purest, unadulterated form. All the single origin espresso is made through $32k Slayer. That being said, I don't think my coffee was that fantastic... but I'm no expert and wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
Ben Cooper and Kate Holloway's menu is Modern European/Middle Eastern-influenced cafe fare, accentuated with syrups and reductions. Both the Hangover cure ($17.50) with chorizo, cherry tomatoes, onions and spinach and the Sweet french toast ($15.50) with balsamic strawberries proved that and looked gorgeous. They certainly "plate" up well. But both were drenched in the reductions, making the toast soggy and with far too strong a taste. It was a major disappointment, but only because I expected so much from this place...
171 Miller Street, Fitzroy North, VIC
Coffee Supreme Fairtrade
On a residential street corner opposite Merri Creek Primary School, there's a café famous for its bomboline-style doughnuts… there weren't any on the day we visited, despite it being a weekend =(
We sat at the high communal table, on wooden stools carved with a "J", half reading the papers with excellent coffees in hand, half people watching. Lots of families, and a huge crowd of people entered just after us holding floor plans and other evidence that they just came from an inspection/auction down the road. Better get our order in!
There's Romeo & Juliet - white cheese & quince paste on sourdough ($8.50), Spanish style omelettes ($12.50), Turkish breakfast plates ($9.80-$14.60), Baked organic eggs ($14) and a range of sandwiches ($7.80-$10.50). Both orders turned out to be from their specials. Firstly, French toast with apple, whipped cream and maple syrup. One of the worst French toasts ever. The taste was as unappealing as the look (like a layer of egg stuck onto bread by frying), except think stale and soggy bread, hard apples, cheap maple syrup and cream where the only taste was from the cinammon sprinkled on top.
The other dish, Scrambled organic eggs with Tom Cooper smoked salmon and roast tomatoes ($15) was a totally different story. Smooth scrambles, sweet tomatoes, fresh salmon and excellent sourdough made me wonder how could a cafe serve the 2 extremes?