Breakfast in Port Melbourne: the verdict

I’ve spread myself around, breakfast-wise, in the ol’ Port Melbourne so I’m at a point where I can probably list a few local places in a compare/contrast manner … discuss, summarise and devise a ranking.

First to look briefly at the most recent visits, in no particular order:


Nifty place, very cute, relaxed interior with a flying pig hanging from the ceiling, which is always nice. The coffee is very good indeed, and the adventure-seekers get the cold-drip offerings and so forth. The cafe often has large numbers of customers who act like regulars, so clearly there is a following.

Obligingly, Balderdash publishes its menu HERE.


I tried the corn, zucchini and feta fritters with the avocado and goats cheese (nom), nice and runny poached egg, bacon and tomato relish. I found the dish excellent with the small reservation about the relish which I steered around because it was too sweet for me.


Mr Blackburn J chose the omelette and rated it as excellent. Omelettes aren’t entirely fashionable at the moment, but with fillings of bacon, chorizo, spring onions, pesto, tasty and feta cheese, I expect a renaissance. Nom!

Service was a bit slow and haphazard. We were planted at a table and menued up with a promise that the waitress would be back to take orders. I think she forgot. The guy we eventually signalled seemed to be having a slightly bad day. Entertainingly he was sorting cutlery later on in full fury, crashing mode – sort of hurling metal at the cutlery trays which was set off nicely by the acoustics from wood furniture and polished concrete floors. I figure it was a temporary mood issue, because he appeared to stabilise in time. He forgot my second coffee order, but once reminded was apologetic and didn’t charge (for the second coffee, that is. We were charged for everything else).

I’ll be back. Balderdash has a lovely menu and very good coffee. On a good weather day, there is outside seating (though quite noisy, being on the corner of Bay Street and Bridge Road) and worth a visit any old time, though possibly not when pressed for time.

Balderdash on Urbanspoon

My Sister Says

No website to sus the menu. My Sister Says gets a fair amount of blogger notice for its super small and cute layout. It is a wee little place which would be a good size for a master bedroom so long as it also has a walk-in robe somewhere. I acknowledge the cute, but found the intimacy awkward. There is one communal table, and sitting on the far side of it puts you in the serving area. I ordered simple-like and had a New York bagel with avo and goat cheese. You could probably say I deserved what I got, but I was a bit surprised by just how simple it turned out to be – in that the mush was not seasoned and without the cheese mixed through. Butter might be good here too, otherwise the dry bagel didn’t really marry with the other properties. Mind you, I did get this unexpected lemon slice. Goodski.


There are regular-types who dash in for a take away coffee. I won’t join them. I have had coffee twice here – the first a takeaway that I had to throw out because I really disliked it. Warm milk with a sinister background. My second attempt sit down coffee wasn’t much better (I wanted to see if the first coffee was an anomaly), and the Barista seemed new to the job so the micro foam wasn’t really happening. Probably not for me, this cafe, but it does display a really attractive sweet selection for those who are that way inclined.

My Sister Says on Urbanspoon

Seven:am cafe

Great! For some reason this surprised me and I don’t even know why. A lovely, crisp but cosy interior with enough space for comfort. And some bicycles hanging from a wall which is essential in a cafe to have at least one unnecessary decorative touch. The coffee is excellent and up to the Melbourne, great coffee standard. For those that like to explore in advance (me) all is published by the cafe HERE.


This is above is my Port Melbourne recommendation for the cripplingly-hung-over:  the brekkie roll with really good, smokey bacon, a fried egg with a runny yolk that drips all over the place, tomato relish and tasty cheese – all grippable and chompable in a soft roll. I added to the restorative work by sculling a freshly squeezed orange and ginger juice, which comes in the now expected jar instead of glass with a paper straw. I don’t know what the next trend for receptacles will be – watering cans possibly.

Seven:am is a friendly, sleek establishment that seems to be clear about what it is doing and how to do it well. I like it – v much.

I think I have worked out why I approached this cafe with reservations. It’s the slightly cutesy menu writing style. For some reason putting dumb phrases like “the yee old faithful” in front of brekkie roll makes me a bit embarrassed. Also, does Yee normally get spelled with two ‘e’s?

seven:am on Urbanspoon

Bay 101

Pizza restaurant by night, cafe by day and opens good and early for breakfast. I have a feeling the business is owned or part owned by my new neighbor, Bomber Thompson. Certainly, the Facebook page appears to regularly offer discounts for Essendon club members.

For breakfast I thought it was pretty damn good and the interior is more spacious and attractive then you would expect. The waitresses were real Italians or decent fakes. The coffee was fine, but not my all-time favourite blend.


The food was very good, with one tiny reservation (and it’s a surprising one). This is my brekkie bruschetta, with poached eggs on smashed avo and feta on ciabatta with tomatoes and drizzled with a lovely pesto oil. Pretty decent – the pesto drizzle takes the whole nirvana beyond the mundane, and I could eat this most days. The reservation: the tomatoes. Fine and dandy, but tasted slightly of fish. Call me mad, but I’m sure at some stage of preparation these guys came into contact with a fish of some description. Maybe on a chopping board otherwise generally used to prep the seafood pizza, or on a less than sparkling grill plate or similar. Such a discovery is not deadly, but is somewhat disconcerting. I need to eat there again to decide whether the issue is more than a one off.

Fishy tomatoes aside, a decent place for breakfast. Menu can be found HERE.

Bay 101 on Urbanspoon

The verdict

Okay – I’m lining up these brunches alongside two previous Port Melbourne discoveries which were:

Third Wave Cafe – which I wrote about HERE


Station Street Trading Co – which I wrote about HERE

Ladies and others … The FIRST CAFE of Port Melbourne goes to The Station Street Trading Co for the bacon on a stick, the Woodfrog Bakery loaves, the multiple dog customers and the general loveliness

Followed closely, SECOND goes to the Third Wave Cafe for the massive menu and the sensational muffin burger

THIRD is Seven:am for the hangover treating capacity

Balderdash slips in FORTH, with Bay 101 following just behind in FIFTH with its mystery fish tomatoes

SIXTH is the tiny tiny My Sista Says

So I’m pretty much full now on the basis of Port Melbourne alone, but plan to recover some time to try a dinner at Dalmatino, of which I have heard many good things.


Chin Chin: mad good loud Thai

So on Wednesday Blackburn J and me are out on the tiles (following a concert at Federation Square) and it’s getting on for 10pm and my stomach is growling. But I have a plan. Chin Chin serves food late. We can become the last people in the entire universe to try this restaurant.

Whoa is it good! Really fresh, brave, punch in the face flavour. Nutso loud pop music and cute, cheeky waiters. Ours was unnervingly young-looking so I was a bit concerned it might be past his bedtime. And Billy Brownless was at the next table, so Blackburn J was pretty excited about that.

Chin Chin is often described as a fusion resteraunt, but the dominant theme is very Thai with a couple of excursions elsewhere in Asia. This isn’t just nice local Thai with a damped down sweetish red curry and some mild fish cakes. This is serious, pow! scuds, pongy fresh pastes, sharp ginger, mad chewy lemongrass popping in, holy basil (holy cow!) and some of the best cocktails in Melbourne.


Okay, so it is also pretty dark and I’m not going to use the flash and possibly piss off Billy Brownless. I don’t quite remember what this cocktail was except that it involves pomegranate molasses and a goodly amount of gin and it was so excellent that I could go another right now – and it is 8:40 am at the time of writing.

I give up on the photos since they consist entirely of dark sinister lumps when the reality is bright, fragrant, fun food. We shared some crunch of deep fried school prawns with a seriously raucously pongy Nahm Prik Pla Gapi – a kind of thick, dried shrimp chilli dip. I rolled my prawns with the Gapi in the crispy lettuce leaves with a squeeze of fresh lemon and the hot hot hot with the sweet lettuce crunch and the prawns come together in a sort of mystical way. And things only got better. We also had some lovely chewy crab and prawn cakes with salted duck egg and tamarind Nahm Prik which was a sweet and sour and salty starter that sort of works in a cunning way to persuade me to order another cocktail from the waiter who should be in bed on a school night.

The Crying Tiger – almost like a thai salad, with rare, chargrilled strips of wagu with holy basil and lemongrass, glass noodles and ground roast rice in a tamarind chilli dressing. I adore tamarind and after only a few mouthfuls I was certain this was to be the highlight (I was mistaken as it turned out) and I was dead pleased Blackburn J selected this because I don’t often order thai salads which from now will surely change.

We also enjoyed a beautiful salmon in a coconut red curry cooked in a banana leaf. The salmon was pink and flaked perfectly and the curry fresh and hot. I would go one of these again, except I really need to eat other stuff on the menu when I return because it all looks sensational.

But the true star of the night was the son in law eggs. This must be a Chin Chin superstar – I don’t think I could miss ordering these ever. The eggs are boiled and fried but still have an oozy soft centre, and are served with a chilli caramel and some decorative herbs. Sensational.

Chin Chin is loud and crowded and generally a bit crazy. Even at 10pm the place was full – go at 8 and bank on a queue. But the food is knockout and, surprisingly, the prices are pretty reasonable. Just go. Go now. Go.


Okay, so these are cats, not thai food. Truth is I have provided this unrelated image of sleeping cats because my Chin Chin shots are too dark to use, and also because my Mum wanted a photo of Ron so she could see how much his colour has changed (Ronnie on left – started at 14 weeks as a little white kitten and is now a big brown 2yo marbled slob …)

imageBut isn’t he cute?

Chin Chin on Urbanspoon


Sonido! Colombian brunch in Fitzroy

So I’ve been meaning to slouch over to Fitzroy to have breakfast at Sonido! for a few weeks now. I tried last Sunday, only got there at 8am to discover that they don’t open until 10am Sundays, so gave it up and went elsewhere.

This week I am better prepared. I’ve even had a look at the Sonido! menu online HERE, looked up Arepas and Empanada’s in wikipedia, and mentally prepared myself for the old clothes beef. I’ve also researched (briefly) the foods of Colombia and Venezuela – not that I learned so much considering my devoted googling, but it was news to me that Panama and Colombia share a border, which is always a nice thing to know.


And what a cute place? Sonido isn’t very big but is very Fitzroy – in a good way. Mis-matched furniture, South American curiosities and football jumpers pinned to walls, flakey paint but somehow seeming warmly and comfortably grungy. Also, by the time we arrived (half an hour after Sonido! opened this morning) the room is filled with a truly delectable smell. Really really good smell, where you don’t entirely know what it is but you are pretty sure that you want to eat it.


I’ve already settled mentally on trying the old clothes beef arepa – a fine choice on my part because it makes a delicious brunch. The old clothes beef is beef skirt thas been long, slow cooked with cumin and spices (though not super hot in an ouch way) to the point where it can be shredded into long threads and resembles an upended bag of laundry on a little, fried cornflour mattress. Topped with guacamole and a fresh picadillo balancing on the soft arepa, the old clothes beef is something totally new to me, and becomes an instant classic. The portion size is for once just right – I often over order at breakfast time (eggs benny really fills you up fast), though because I’m a guts and endlessly curious I did also ask for a side of turtle beans served with a crumbled goat feta. Fantastic. Best to scoop the beans and cheese on top of the beef arepa, with the guacamole and the picadillo teetering onto of that, because it really is the combination of a bunch of different things, flavours and textures all together that I think is the best part about South American food.


Blackburn J had the Chorizo arepa with a side salad. The first surprise was that the Chorizo didn’t come diced as you would usually see it, but whole, balanced on its arepa and with a lime slice. Once it had cooled a bit (it was dangerously hot when served), the excellence of the particular chorizo sausage really made Blackburn J’s day – and with some experimentation he discovered that rolling the arepa around the chorizo like a sort of hotdog, with guacamole, picadillo and lime squeezed over the top is a breakfast of Colombian champions.

I love the place. I will surely return. This isn’t my favourite coffee in Melbourne – I think the supplier is Coffee Supreme – of which I’ve never been a massive fan – but it was decent enough and the barista is skilled and can do micro foam with a fern design or whatever. The atmosphere is relaxed and funky and I like the South Americal muzak wafting from a speaker somewhere. I love all the junk, the grunge cool customers, the selection of random shoes on a small wall shelf, everything. I also love the fact that on my way back to the car from the cafe I spotted a pair of converse sneakers patterned with skeletons in a sort of South American kitsch shop and, believe it or not, a pair of knee socks with a portrait of Freda Kahlo knitted into the sides. Obviously I must and will buy these thing directly (well … tomorrow, since it hadn’t opened yet this morning I will decidedly return). I may also try and talk Blackburn J in letting me take home the massive day of the dead mosaic for sale in the same shop, though he doesn’t seem entirely sold on the plan at this point.

Sonido! really is a tops place for breakfast, lunch, snack etc. It even has a couple of dinner dishes, and Melbourne’s shortest wine list (two bottles of unknown Colombian wine – how cute!) which has to be tried at some point.

Sonido! on Urbanspoon


Deliciously different: Konjo Cafe and Restaurant

I can’t say enough about my brunch this morning, except to say you really must try this restaurant. Konjo is a gorgeous Ethiopian cafe and African craft shop on a dodgy looking strip on Irving Street. Mind you, all of central Footscray consists of dodgy looking strips. Don’t let this put you off because it boasts some of the best, and cheapest, ethnic restaurants and shops in Melbourne. So … Make your way to exotic (and faintly menacing) Footscray of a morning and order the Ful.


Ful is a richly spiced broad bean stew, with the partly- smushed beans cooked in a tomato and onion base. Konjo tops it’s Ful with sliced, hard-boiled eggs and green chilli. With no cutlery, you eat it by breaking pieces off three crusty, fresh rolls and mopping the bowl with your bread.

For 12 dollars. Yep. 12. Not 22 dollars, which is getting to be expected as the charge for an exotic breakfast offering in an on-trend cafe. 12 dollars.

It was insanely good. You will never go back to Heinz beans again. The spices are rich rather than “ow … HOT!” and the whole dish melds into the most wonderful, comforting sensation. It is an unreal start to the day. I’m extremely full of Ful (the bread pile fills you up like nothing else) and I’m ready to face a gruelling day of cooking ethiopian food, microwaving my bag of injera I bought from the Mesnoy Injera Bakery a few doors down, chucking massive amounts of Berbere into a pot with some chicken and watching Harry Potter on the blu ray.


Blackburn J ordered Silts – an Ethiopian scrambled eggs with tomato and onion in Niter Kibbeh; a seasoned african clarified and spiced butter. Also eaten with bread rather than fork (disconcerting for Blackburn J – who is of a type that thinks a jacket shouldn’t be worn without a tie) and utterly excellent. I had a try – the spices and the eggs were made for each other and the Niter Kibbeh keeps the whole tasting rich and decadent.

The Silts cost 8 dollars. Unbelievable.


For those that are too chicken to have a go at the two Ethiopian breakfast offerings, the extremely brief menu does mention the availability of croissants. I wouldn’t substitute a bowl of Ful for a silly croissant, but that’s me.

One thing – you’ll notice I haven’t mentioned the coffee. As you enter Konjo, you’ll see signs boasting about “voted No 1 coffee experience in Epicure”. True this is – but this refers to the classic coffee ceremony, Ethiopian style, that is offered upon booking – where you have the green beans roasted in front of you and the smell mingles with the frankincense, and it is served in little pots and cups black and sweetened etc.

At brunch time, your regular espresso machine is ready to go and you can get a flat white etc. but while it isn’t bad it doesn’t come near the regular, italian-style offering available in more traditional Melbourne brunch cafés. Never mind, I’ll just have to return to Konjo for the real deal Ethiopian coffee experience some time and judge this style of coffee for myself.

But breakfast today was a serious wow – really different and really good. A wonderful change from queuing alongside disgruntled foodie wankers for however long to eat eggs Benedict (even with orange or spiced or ‘aerated’ hollandaise). The Ful is already one of my favourite Melbourne breakfast dishes. I could eat it every day.

Konjo Cafe & Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Yet another fantastic lunch: Melbourne CBD

Nieuw Amsterdam on Urbanspoon

Have you been to Nieuw Amsterdam? If not, go. Go now in fact.

So, yesterday I’m at work but I also find I’m hungry. Blackburn J is starving (apparently) so we clearly need to think about lunch. I hook up Blackburn J to a machine that will detect subtle nuances in his pulse and hit him with some words:

“Bagel” … nothing registers…

“Sandwich” … Hmm…

“Pie” … Mmm …

“Sushi” … blah (Blackburn J isn’t much of a raw fish fan) …

“Pasta” … Mmm?

“Laksa” … nup …

I give it up at this point and decide to take him to Nieuw Amsterdam.

Nieuw Amsterdam lives on Hardware Street next to the Hardware Societe – it calls itself a bar and eatery and opens for lunch at noon. It’s thing/style/vibe is new American cuisine – mysteriously the newness is provided by the fusion of Korean influence in parts of the lunch menu HERE.

Firstly, the interior is gorgeous, spacious and comfortable, with the dark wood and arched windows bringing a sense of New York attic. The bar guys are grungy, cool, beanied (wearing beanies, that is) and remarkably friendly and helpful. More importantly, as a lunch spot the prices are excellent – unless you make a cocktail hour of the visit (I did) because this is where the money evaporates.


We arrived on the dot of 12 as the doors were opening, hence the emptiness (which changed pretty quickly). Blackburn J didn’t linger long over the menu before settling on a New Reuben – one of the greatest Reuben Sandwiches in the universe and for $16.50 with monster hand cut, crispy fries and a salad, must be one of the best value lunches in Melbourne.


This thing is seriously huge. There is a good inch or so slab of meltingly tender corned beef brisket, hunks of Swiss cheese melting into crunchy sauerkraut, home made russian dressing, gherkins … I’ll stop because after I snuck a bite I knew instantly there was no way to do it justice except to say that this may well be the greatest sandwich ever. Come hungry because I need to mention once more the massiveness of the thing – think of bread as long as your arm cut in two just to fit on the tray and you are in the general ballpark.

I decided to try the clam chowder (I love chowder … why do I never cook chowder? I should look into that).


Yep. It’s dead good. Oddly, the clams are spread in their half shells on the base of the hot, hot dish so hidden under the soup – 16 big guys by my count. Best of all is the big chunks of soft, smokey bacon flavouring the rich, creamy base and lotsa potatoes … Unusually, there are some roasted cherry tomatoes scattered around there too – I’m going to adopt this idea when I get around to making a chowder because I like the way the occasional tomato cuts through the cream. I sort of wish I had some spare stomachs because I would just carry on eating for hours, dipping my bread, saying hello to the emerging clams and and slurping the sauce.


Its a work day so I really need to keep a clear head, what with my being extra professional and all. Fortunately, though, I’m an idiot so I decide to have one of these. The cocktail menu is superb and this guy is a NY sour containing rye whiskey, cognac, lemon juice, egg white and an absinthe rince (uhuh). It is truly superb and I will return super soon just to have a few more of them.

I’m not the least surprised Nieuw Amsterdam is a success. It is such a nice place to be, the people couldn’t have been lovelier, the food is just what the doctor ordered for the hungry person who, what with it being Melbourne, is probably also cold and wet. Next time I’ll set aside some time and lounge with my multiple cocktails longer, stretch out, fall off the chair, snooze briefly then repeat the process.


Goulash recipe: pork shoulder and potatoes

I love this dish. The recipe is so simple, and the results are so good. This recipe feed 4 big, hungry types but would easily stretch to 6, especially if you did a side of lovely, buttery noodles. The cooking time was 3 hours 45 minutes in total, including prep – but pork shoulder really benefits from long, slow cooking and most of the time this meal blips away in the oven unsupervised.

The secret to excellent goulash is good quality paprika, and lots of it. If at all possible, hunt around for a genuine Hungarian paprika – if you can’t find the Hungarian import then select a quality, sweet paprika. You’ll probably need to go to a deli because the supermarket brands just aren’t as good. Don’t select hot paprika (you can chuck in a fresh chopped chilli if you like some heat – I do) and don’t use a Spanish smoked paprika that you might use for paella as it will deliver quite a different flavour.

Also, this is one casserole where I don’t use wine. It wouldn’t make it bad, but it does detract from the rich paprika and you will have a dish that is more like your regular casserole instead of a smokey, distinctly Hungarian dish.


Something like this guy is required. He is my new, beautiful, enamelled cast iron Staub round casserole pot and he is just lovely. He goes on the stovetop, goes on the oven – is a nice blue shade, and costs a poultice. But I figure I can expect him to last until the end of time, so I’m not too fussed about the money.


  • 1 kg pork shoulder, chopped into 5cm dice;
  • 2 tbsp plain flour;
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced;
  • 4 crushed garlic cloves;
  • 1-2 chopped small red chillis;
  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika;
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds;
  • 4 tbsp tomato passata;
  • 500 mls water;
  • 400g baby new potatoes;
  • 100g chopped gherkins;
  • 4 tbsp sour cream; and
  • salt and pepper – to taste.


I have a fan-forced oven, so preheated it to 130 degrees Celsius. But a conventional oven should be heated to 150.

Coat your pork in the flour. Heat the oil in a casserole like my Staub guy or whatever you happen to have. An oven-proof saucepan will do, if large enough and has a well-fitting lid.

Brown the pork in batches. Give it a reasonable amount of time to brown really well – which I think makes it nicer. Remove the pork to a plate. Lower the heat to medium and add your onions. Stir them around for 5 minutes or until they are getting a bit of colour. Chuck in your chilli and garlic and stir for another minute. Return the pork and accumulated juices to the pot.

Add the paprika and caraway seeds and stir to coat all the meat and onion in a lovely, rusty red. Now add the passata – then the water, and give it a good old stir. Season generously with salt and pepper, have a good scape of the bottom of the pot to loosen and incorporate any delicious sticky bits.

Transfer the pot from the stovetop to the oven – lid on. I like my pork shoulder really soft and easy to pull apart. So I gave my goulash friend 2 hours in the oven, stirring after one hour and adding another 100 mls of water if the goulash is thickening to quickly.

After 2 hours, add your little new potatoes (mine were larger than some, so I quartered them before adding them). Have a stir, add a little more water if needed and place him back in the oven for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

This is the bit that shouldn’t be omitted: remove him from the oven and add the chopped gherkins and the sour cream, and fold both into the goulash.

Done! I served mounds of goulash in heated, shallow bowls and balanced steamed green beans and sauerkraut on the sides.



the verdict:

Simply stunning. Comfort food at its exceptional best. Falling apart soft pork and lovely potatoes with the rich smokiness of paprika and a bit of zing from the gherkins. Sauerkraut makes an excellent side with the spark of vinegar cutting through the rich pork flavour.

Definitely one for the diary.



The Kettle Black

Today I enact my special plan: to get up early and have breakfast somewhere new before work. I choose (drum roll … bagpipes … duelling banjos …)The Kettle Black.

I’m dead excited about this one – a) it’s a new Melbourne cafe, and b) the weirdness of the building has attracted my notice before I knew it was housing a cafe/restaurant. I like it – it looks like a time travelling Victorian terrace that materialised in a space station, which is funky in of itself, And the juxtaposition of period, taken into account with the seemingly simple materials demonstrating the interplay of brutalism and warmth … all these things give rise to a profound sense of something or other. Yes, I agree – move on…


My expectations are super high given that The Kettle Black has chosen a slightly offbeat name in line with the Melbourne convention of seeking success through mild obscurity. At least the kettle part has a certain beverage tone, which makes a small amount of sense. Other than that, so far as I know The Kettle Black has no meaning other than what a pot might call you. It all is slightly more understandable than calling a cafe “The Tree of Life” (which sounds like it sells tarot cards and essential oils) or “Friends of Mine” (I’m not, guys, we’ve never met).

The Kettle Black has been established by the same dudes behind Three Bags Full (of what? Wool? Phone chargers? Cats?) and Top Paddock (sure, there are totally millions of acres of paddock in Church Street, Richmond – an area much noted for its pastoral landscape). Don’t let me scoff because these are great venues. Just ones with weird-arse, pointless Melbourne cafe names.

So we can expect big queues and mucho reviews from The Kettle Black because these entrepreneurs have taken their money growth hormones on a regular basis. My first requirement is an excellent coffee, so we’ll see how that works out…


Coffee… Nothing to worry about here. The suppliers are Five Senses, and the barista is very good. The coffee was excellent (and much needed given that it is the exact hour of sparrow fart, and I’m supposed to put in an appearance at work at some point).  Having done the first gulp of life-saving coffee, I now take a quick decko of the surrounding whatever – interior, ambiance, stuff.


There are certain themes to look for in trendy dining interiors. There is the distressed brick and stainless steel warehouse feel (like Proud Mary / Stagger Lee’s etc), the cosy cottage feel (Station Street Trading Co / Hardware Societe – well, it has feminine wallpaper anyway). The Kettle Black has positioned itself squarely in the “more expensive items from IKEA” vibe – probably because anything more exotic in the Victorian Futuristic architecture would probably overload my morning brain cells and trigger a meltdown. But it feels cheerful, bright and spacious – though possibly less so if it weren’t sparrow fart time on a weekday and instead had the mile long queue that will show up on a weekend. Shayna from Selling Houses Australia would look around and probably say something about clean lines, because that is the kind of thing she says. I say its food time, because that is the kind of thing I say. And because it is.


This is Blackburn J’s choice: it describes itself on the menu as “Benedict style eggs  - with free range pork shoulder and aerated hollandaise”.  Uhuh… Aerated hollandaise.

The report back: Blackburn J found this to be by and large an excellent dish. Eggs poached to perfection, lovely hollandaise, really tasty slow-cooked pork … I have to agree about the pork because he didn’t finish so I stole some and it was just perfect.

BTW: I specifically asked him to describe the taste of aerated hollandaise versus ordinary hollandaise. He said (I quote) “I did see some bubbles” then when pressed about the taste he said “I like the hollandaise – the aerated stuff on the menu is just some Melbourne wank, surely?”. I didn’t press the issue. It may be that there is no real taste difference between a good hollandaise and an aerated one. Either way, you heard it here first.


And this is what I ordered: Chilli scrambled eggs with (I kid you not) air-dried wallaby (sorry Skippy!), feta and leaves. You have to give the chef points for coming up with this concept.

So what did it taste like? Pretty decent. To be honest, I love getting scrambled eggs in a proper restaurant: I can do this at home, but a professional always does it better. Then me, at least. And I love chilli – and the concept of chilli on eggs for breakfast isn’t new so it didn’t surprise me. That is to say, I expected a few strands of de seeded stuff on the eggs purely as decoration, with no particular chilli heat. This is what I got – mind you, for the nervous buyer of anything with chilli, go for your life! Nothing to fear because there is no chilli taste with an “ooo yeah … HEAT” discernible in any way.

If I owned the world, chilli eggs wouldn’t just look pretty – it would smash you, leaving your sorry pounded body on the floor saying “what WAS that?”. This is the world, not as it is, but as it should be. The Kettle Black didn’t deliver the punch I was hoping for. Mind you, this could be a sign if good business sense on their part.

Having said that, feta with eggs is such a topsomundo combo that I’m surprised it isn’t a recognised classic worldwide.

I like the wallaby stuff. I cook a fair bit of what my colleagues describe as “weird shit”, including kangaroo. Being all clever, like, I assumed what I would get might be an abstract random Pancetta of unknown beast that tastes like any old pancetta. Wrong! If you are familiar with cooking skippy, then you will note that this is decidedly wallaby, not cured pig bits. I can taste the gameyness of the wallaby and am clear in my own mind that I’m not devouring Porky Pig – I’m eating Skippy. I liked The Kettle Black for that – game on a breakfast menu is brave.


The building is so unusual that it is worth a visit on its own – if it isn’t yet a Melbourne icon then I suspect it will be ( it’s not as though the competition is stiff – federation square is a disgrace! Me and Barry Humphries are of one mind about this thing).

The interior shows some consideration for the comfort of the guests – which doesn’t sound like a big deal but it makes a difference to me.

I see a few reviewers on Urbanspoon have trashed the staff – dunno why. Who knows what happened to others at a different time? Sorry for your loss etc. We (that would be BlackburnJ plus me) were really well looked after, and I loved the staff. I loved it even when we left and a woman held the door and said she hoped we had enjoyed ourselves. She sounded like she honestly cared, and as far as I’m concerned that is worth something.

The coffee – no fear, go for your life. Drink two – you won’t regret it.

The food – they do their stuff well, but I’m not certain I would return on that basis alone. For me, I have been really blown away by dishes from Duchess of Spotswood, Small Victories and perhaps Proud Mary. So the truth is I would go back to those venues first. Don’t get me wrong – these guys do a tops job and I look forward to a revisit … I think my major critique is that normally neither of us would spray food with the salt shaker. On this occasion, we both had a few mouthfuls and simultaneously dived for seasonings. It may just be us … see how you go.

(though… to be honest and you are a real dude that loves food … make you way over to the Duchess of Spotswood … ooo yeah!).

After all that, do go. To The Kettle Black, I mean. At the very least to check out the wacky time-travel building which is worth a look. And the staff are lovely, you can rely on a tops coffee and the food is pretty decent and striving for imagination.

Also … One of your offspring might marry into this insane brunch dynasty. Play along. Support it. I do since they are certainly richer than me, and decidedly deserve it.

The Kettle Black on Urbanspoon

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