I’m three, no … four brand new breakfasts behind in posting, so I really need to catch up some before I’m allowed to take Blackburn J out again – so here goes:
The Guilty Moose
It’s extra-cute, new(ish) and has an intriguing name. The Guilty Moose is well worth a visit. Plus it’s in Albert Park where I always enjoy strolling around pretending I’m a millionaire and own one of the tiny tiny but so pretty Victorian terraces that make up so much of the suburb.
Know about the Guilty Moose? Me neither, but they have a website HERE.
Inside is small, quirky and fun and if you press on through you find a dear little courtyard for the nicer days. I chose a not so nice day, but enjoyed perching at the bench along the front window, watching the world according to Albert Park, Victoria Street. It’s always fun watching cold, wet people while comfy and dry with a nice flat white.
The coffee is great and prepared by cool dudes that know what they are doing. I ended up having three because they were excellent, and also because it was now seriously pissing down so I needed to hunker down waiting for the right moment to emerge.
What I ordered was really really good and definitely a change up from the usual offerings. I had something called Okonomiyaki, which according to the menu is a Japanese-style pancake with smoked ocean trout, watercress salad, otofuko mayo, fennel, spring onion and a perfectly poached egg. The flavours are sensational and the salad is dressed to have a sharpness against the trout and the mayo, the savoury pancake is wafer thin and the onions are crunchy. All is drizzled in lemon juice and this is a really interesting and refreshing start to the day and something I will come back for again.
Super big thumbs up for the guilty moose.
Pillar of Salt
So to Richmond. I like Pillars and I like Salt as a general rule… but we were a bit let down by this breakfast. The start was promising in that the coffee is sensational and need apologise for nothing. Also, the decor is nifty in the casual warehousey way of Melbourne cafes. I particularly like this dangly light fitting thing – I don’t know if you can tell but the light shades are actually red and white colanders, which is such an excellent idea that I mentally began redecorating my kitchen.
The service is a bit scatterbrained and slow … not to worry, since I had no pressing appointments on the horizon. But the end result was lacklustre. I ordered the New Orleans Pinto Bean Jambalaya with a poached egg and twice-cooked sticky pork belly with corn bread topped with Monteray Jack cheese. Maybe I was silly to order this because I’m not a cornbread fan – though the cheese lifted this one beyond the usual. But exotic sounding as jambalaya could strike you, essentially this is a somewhat bland bean dish without the benefit of being cooked with ham, so as to get a bit of smokey flavour, with some last-moment shredded pork scattered over the top. The pork might have been sticky and succulent after the first cooking, but the reheat just left me with dryish shredded pork and overall an absence of flavour.
If I ever have this again (unlikely) I would lift it with some hot sauce. Lots of hot sauce. Or better still, skip it and just have coffee. Or just have hot sauce.
Blackburn J got very unlucky - I suspect this was a one-off mistake in the morning food preparation (because a cafe in Richmond wouldn’t surely be able to get away with this more than once). He ordered pan-fried Portuguese sardines with house-made ketchup, pickled red onions, truss cherry tomatoes, capers and preserved lemon. Now that should be brilliant except, in this case, Pillar of Salt committed the cardinal sin: The Fish Still Had Scales! Aaaaargh! Effectively this is a mistake that can’t be forgiven since scales in a dish instantly trigger a gag reflex making the plate virtually inedible. Yik!
As I said, this must surely just have been a mistake (since nobody I have met could chomp through a scaly breakfast) – though overlooking the scales, the plating is a bit silly. The sardines are served on a board covered in a cute base of paper – awesome guys, except that the paper disintegrates on contact with the tomato juice, fish oil etc. Daft! So poor old Blackburn J prodded moodily at his scales and soggy paper until we decided to blow the joint and go shopping.
The menu does look really good, so it was all a bit of a shame. Check it out HERE. Hopefully someone will chance the sardines and let me know if we just stumbled on a freak event with a new kitchen hand having a bad scale day.
Twenty and Six Espresso
I quite like North Melbourne. The slightly industrial feel with hidden interior gardens in old warehouses is cute. Also, it is full of nice coffee and some dead good cafes and restaurants. And pubs. And wine bars.
So with my sister visiting, we tried Twenty and Six Espresso.
Lovely, lovely back garden. Definitely come on a nice day since the interior is really sweet but a bit doll-house sized and you end up with your knees pressed against all sorts of alarming things like foodies spraying macaroon crumbs and watching YouTube clips.
I loved the coffee – I’ve had a run of excellent coffee of late if I exclude the weird cup I had at some bakery sort of place in Brighton which tasted vaguely of ham. It probably could have arrived a bit hotter though (yes I know espresso isn’t served scalding hot yada yada, but this was cooling too fast and sort of had to be downed in two super gulps).
This is where my recollection gets a bit hazy about the precise ingredients of our orders. I can’t check online since parts of the menu have changed. But I recall this rather uninteresting looking photo was Lucy’s omelette. It’s good to see an omelette now and again since they aren’t currently fashionable but I do enjoy a good one. This one involved mushroom and blue cheese – Lucy said it was good but she could have gone mushroomier and cheesier (like me – an Umami fan).
Blackburn J went with an eggs on toast with bacon. Nice bacon – Istra bacon is always good, but the annoying thing with the sourdough toast being virtually unsawable was an issue and more than once I dodged sourdough shrapnel taking flight.
I know I liked this – er … seems to be a burger style affair only with fried fish, no … Crumbed! Yes! And it was really great. Crunchy, with a nice herby aioli with a bit of green chilli heat and an excellent home made slaw with a mega tang which was more of a TANG! Mm..mm! Onions. I hit the jackpot that will persuade me to return and try other stuff.
None of us had the signature black rice pudding that many have written about … I was in more of a fish and slaw mood, but one day I will attempt the rice pudding because one sailed past me and it did look very dramatic on the plate.
So I was generally pleased with Twenty and Six Espresso. The current menu is published HERE.
Why has it taken me so long to try St Ali? The original, South Melbourne roasting house and cafe is one of the more established amazing breakfast spots, inspiring the insane trend of foodies searching for the new, most inspired brunch in a sort of spreading contagion of competitive brunch menus. Once I connected that the head chef at St Ali these days is Andy Gale, the genius behind the Duchess of Spotswood, and we’re there.
South Melbourne is always good for a wander. If I’m not going to inhabit a gazillion-dollar Albert Park hankie-size cottage, maybe I could have a funky South Melbourne warehouse with an atrium and funky industrial furniture, recycled road-sign art and some graffiti. If I were a stagger away from the exceptional, world-beating coffee at St Ali, I would stop by every day.
Top coffee. One day I need to have a coffee-off between St Ali, Dukes, Industry Beans and Proud Mary. St Ali might win for me, but I need to line them up to be sure.
Look at Blackburn J’s breakky bun – called the “Big Daddy” it has a big pork, chilli, fennel sausage patty, layers of bacon, scrambled egg and homemade brown sauce. It is amazing, and decidedly big so aptly named. This is the way a hangover is converted to ecstasy so accept no substitutes – Maccas can stick their lousy bacon and hard egg in their flabby muffin and do whatever. The Big Daddy is the only pork bun breakfast in town.
I went vegetarian with the long-standing “My Mexican Cousin” which for once doesn’t represent a downgrade from the meat offerings. I am often wary of corn fritters – these ones are deep fried, soft and flavour-packed inside, draped in excellently rubbery grilled haloumi, balanced on some green stuff scattered in fresh salsa and tomato relish and supported by some perfect, runny poached eggs. I went to town with some personal customisation with the handy bottle of homemade hot sauce. Freaking delicious is one way to describe My Mexican Cousin. Freaking HUGE is another. Arrive hungry.
And have another coffee. It is more than worth it.
Happily, St Ali have a website so you can do some advanced drooling HERE.
So … There you go. This weekend I’m going to an introductory session at my new gym (why? WHY?) so will probably just eat grains or something for a bit. I’ll check back when I can reward myself for surviving a body attack class or work out how to use the weird new machine with the coils and leg ropes.
Meanwhile, here is a picture of a cat: