Hidden away in Armadale’s backstreets lies a very small cafe which goes by the name of Sardine. I can not tell you for certain, but I do believe that the name was employed because of the size of the premises. Let me be the first to tell you not to be fooled by the size of this fine establishment, because this lil’ fish really packs quite a punch.
You can locate this little treasure by following the dated King’s Arcade walkway off High Street or alternatively via Morey Street which can be accessed via both Kooyong and High Street. If you need further directions, get a friendly local to point you in the direction of Armadale train station which is located but a stone’s throw away from Sardine.
With a mere 24 seating capacity divided equally in and out, you can decide if you would prefer to watch train commuters go back and forth to the station or discuss recipes, movies or restaurants with the likable staff running this fish. At the helm is Piers Beilby, a fine specimen that has had food and cafes running in his blood for as long as he can remember. He is the eldest son of Melly Beilby, who many locals know as the creator and owner of Prahran institution Spoonful. Sardine is the third venture from the Spoonful empire and has a strong focus on premium ingredients and fresh food.
As you enter, it is hard to miss the beautiful display of sweets, with the majority baked on board the mother ship at Spoonfull and others carefully sourced from local bakers and cake specialists. Most of the sugary delights change all the time, which is great for me as I will always have a different treat with my morning coffee. FYI the chocolate spotted brioche (top plate) are heavenly.
From left, we have a soy cappuccino ($3.80) and a skinny latte ($3.50). The highly skilled barista works her magic behind a two group Wega . Using beans sourced from Genovese’s signature house blend, the coffees here are superb. They have not gone down the trendy road of investing an arm and a leg into a Synesso, or sourcing Tahiti single origin beans (yet!). The crew here have decided they will take the traditional approach of good, consistent coffee with no fancy bells or whistles. They are doing an excellent job!
Chipotle baked beans, with Tarago fetta, and a fried egg ($15.00). This dish is one of Sardine’s most popular. From my recollection it has been on the menu since this shop opened over two years ago. Although the menu regularly changes I agree with Beilby, that the customer favourites need to stay on. This breakfast option is always beautifully presented, and that egg on top of the serving dish looks so good it almost looks fake. The beans weren’t as firey as I would like – rather they were at a mild spice level. The little bits of toast work well as dipping spoons. Mix the Meredith goat’s cheese cubes as they melt on the warm beans - a great option.
5 grain porridge with baked rhubarb ($10.00). For all the porridge fans out there you will love this. It is made to order and can be prepared with milk, water or soy – xxcellent customer service I must say. The porridge is thick and generously portioned. Add the extra grains of goodness and you have a super breakfast. The slivered almonds and the sweet rhubarb make for nice toppings. Further, ask for the maple syrup on the side and drizzle to your heart’s desire.
Breakfast set – consists of a boiled egg, toast with raspberry jam and a side of rhubarb and Meredith yoghurt in rosewater syrup ($12.50). What an interesting combination of sweet and savory for breakky. Neverthless, customers are enjoying it and we did too. We described it as being similar to a breakfast buffet plate, ” you take a little of this and a little of that and make that combo you dream of”. This option allows you to have the best of both worlds. Two pieces of toast meant one for egg and one for jam. The sweet rhubarb was a delicious top off to the meal. Highly recommended for the undecided.
Scrambled eggs ($9.50), with avocado ($3.50) and chorizo ($4.00). Sardine offers scrambled, fried and boiled eggs. Yes, you read correct, they do not offer poached eggs. You can breathe again, it is ok. You do not have to order them each time you order eggs. Scrambled are the bomb! The Sardine scrambled are light, bright and fluffy and totally scrumptious. Add half an avocado (generous) and a pile of fat-juicy-succulent pieces of freshly prepared chorizo and you’re in a very special place.
The lunch menu starts from around 12:00pm. Daily changing soups, tarts and baguettes are available along side a range of seasonally changing dishes. The green bean salad with goat’s cheese and marinated artichokes is a ridiculously good chomming choice. If you have had it before, you know what I’m talkin’ about!
We live in such a fast paced world with less and less time to stop and take in the moment and occasionally unwind. It is too often I visit some of the A-lister cafes and restaurants that we are all aware of. They are so damn crowded and loud. What was thought to be a pleasant experience can be rushed, stressful and tense. Hidden away from all that chaos is Sardine Cafe in Armadale. A spot where you can sit, chill and sip your coffee while you read the Daily Bugle in a very pleasant and relaxing location. Not to mention, you never get pushed to leave your table. The combination of years of experience and fresh premium produce blended into each dish coming out of the tiny kitchen is amazing. Sardine is one of The Chommery’s favourite cafes in Melbourne. Find this little fish and see for yourself.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Cafe fare
Noise: Gentle background music and locals chatting
Suitable for: All – kid friendly
Dress: As you desire
Price: $15 – $20 per head
My View: An excellent cafe in the backstreets of Armadale
Address: 15 Morey Street, Armadale
Phone: (03) 9500 9444