When you venture a good 20km away from the nest in order to satisfy your weekend brunch cravings – you are really hoping for something special. The destination of choice for this Chom adventure was none other than Duchess of Spotswood – in Spotswood Victoria. It saddens me deeply that I have known about this eating premises for some time and have only just visited it for the first time now.
Consistently mentioned, regularly blogged and continually awarded as one of Melbourne’s finest cafes and I just never pulled my finger out far enough to venture over to this side of town. Label me lazy and truthfully I would not argue. With the amount of media and direction that this little beauty has received, I should have dined here long ago. Have no fear The Chommery will make up for lost time.
Kings Woodcock – scrambled eggs with green tomato chutney served with pork, chilli and fennel sausages ($17.50). While I felt this breakfast option was the least creative of the range of dishes we ordered, the flavours did not disappoint. Beautiful buttery eggs with little snags are a safe bet for the less adventurous.
The Duchess of Pork – Crispy pig’s jowl with fried eggs, rich truffle sauce and sourdough toast ($18.50). From the amount of praise I have heard about this dish I am glad to finally be able to validate them. This was seriously something to write home about, or in this case write online about. A thick, generous piece of piggy perfectly moist in it’s own juices and truffle sauce complemented by soft, perfectly cooked fried eggs. A winner every day of the week.
The Clam SCRAM – scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, Cloudy Bay clams and spanner crab ($21.50). While some of the team claimed this to be ‘too fishy’, I absolutely loved it. The portion size is not massive however, the richness of the eggs combined with the protein from the sea dwellers made for a surprisingly heavy option. Note; only for the FFC (fish friendly chommers).
Idle Tongues – Seared ox tongue with marinated char-grilled zucchini, deep-fried zucchini flowers and poached eggs ($19.50). A truly creative choice. Even if you exclude the delicious taste, just the range of items included scores points to the dish. Only in Spotswood will you find a tempura-like vegetable and melt in your mouth ox tongue lying next to some poached eggs.
The Prince of Wales – House smoked salmon with pickled cucumber, fennel and horseradish yoghurt, poached eggs and brioche ($19.50). I bet you I wasn’t the only one that wasn’t expecting a superbly poached fillet of salmon instead of the normal mingy strip or two of packeted nonsense. I want to give too many of the dishes we chommed as the ‘Dish of the Day’! This one is certainly fighting hard for a spot. You will be seriously hard pressed to find a nicer piece of fish even in some of your top restaurants. A great order.
Crumbed lamb’s brains with poached eggs and sourdough toast. If you are thinking gross, you can stop right now, thank you very much. These rocked all our socks off. The has to take the prize as dish of the chom. Rich, sumptuous, brainy centre with a light hazelnut crunch in every bite. The light tartare was not overpowering and balanced the rich brains to a tee. A very well thought out dish (pardon the pun).
An inside look into the true craftsmanship and beauty of these rare delicacies. Take special note of the gooeyness attached to each of of the lightly fried balls. All of it adds up to my most memorable brunch options of my eating career. Call them genius, call them mind blowing, call it the smartest dish you have ever eaten – just go chom some extra brains. A must order for any keen foodie.
If the Duchess is your local spot, then I can’t help but be somewhat envious of you. If you are an East-sider (like myself), then the traverse across our great city (Melbourne) for a premium breakfast or lunch is well worth it. Either way, I implore you to find a cafe using higher quality produce and constructing more creative dishes. Seriously, let me know if you find one. For the moment, I will leave you very comfortably saying that ‘you won’t’. I think it is time that you spoil yourself like royalty and dine with her excellency - The Duchess of Spotswood.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Superior quality cafe fare
Noise: Gentle hum
Suitable for: All creatures great and small
Price: $20 – $25 a head w coffee
My View: Exceptional
Address: 87 Hudsons Road, Spotswood
Phone: (03) 9391 6016
Tip: Head a few doors down to Candied Bakery (81a Hudsons Rd) for a sweet treat after/before Duchess!
Batch Espresso has been fuelling the good people of Balaclava with honest food and quality coffee way back before eating out was the cool thing to do. This small cafe, situated in the midst of cosmopolitan Carlisle Street, is worth visiting as part of anyone’s food journey.
Although I do love sitting inside and getting amongst the hustle and bustle that occurs inside Batch’s premises, you will not regret nabbing a spot on Carlisle Street, weather permitting. It is truly a captivating experience to observe the eclectic crowds that flock to and fro.
Batch has created a space that is humble, warm and welcoming for all people, from whatever walk of life you hail from. Retro black and white floor tiles are the absolute bomb and a rare sight to behold. Meanwhile, you’re looking at only 25-30 cosy seats inside which packs out like you wouldn’t believe. Best is to head down early in the morning or just after the lunch rush if you want to avoid any queues. Today’s chom was for lunch and praise the good Lord, an abridged breakfast menu was available too.
Fresh seasonal fruit salad with lavender yoghurt and almond maple crunch ($9.50). One of the lighter dishes that Batch has on their menu. This plate has all your favourite fruity friends and while the crunch appears to be muesli – it is in-fact a more sugary topping. A light, but sweet choice.
Fried haloumi with roast vegetables, pesto, balsamic reduction and sourdough ($14.00). Could haloumi be the new goat’s cheese? It is soft and tasty but can be slightly chewy if you leave it for too long. If eaten with appropriate haste this cheese (and the dish) is so delicious!
Batch have made an awesome attempt at an old Eastern European dish, commonly known to many as ‘latkes’. These are potato pancakes with NZ smoked salmon, cornichons, chives and horseradish cream friache ($15.00). While these are not as thick as I remember Bubba used to make, they certainly are as delicious. Thin, oiled up potato treats perfectly matched with a cream and salmon topping. I love these – may not be for all.
Fried eggs with lemon, cumin, mint, baba ghanoush and rocket on taosted Turkish bread ($14.00). A generous layer of baba was spread onto one piece of Turkish bread all hiding under the double egg roof. A respectably sized breakfast option that I would recommend to anyone that is not starving. A top combo of flavours.
Batch’s avocado and feta mash on sourdough ($12.00). Don’t tell me you are over this dish. I see people order it everywhere. On the avo-feta spectrum, this one scores very highly for me. The portion size is monstrous, two pieces of toast is kind and you know the rest. Definitely big enough, although a side of salmon or a poached egg would look great.
Why not follow the Melb-Mex trend and order something hip and trendy? The quesadilla with truffled corn, mushrooms, guacamole and sour cream ($15.00) is magnifico. Have fun alternating between the two dipping sauces (double dipping essential). Only negative about this - trying to pronounce it.
There you have it, another happy chom. Batch Espresso was one of the first cafes I explored as I began my food conquest a few years back and it was love at first sight. As I am sure you can easily tell, my love is still burning as bright as ever. Give this place a shot and I am sure yours will too.
Once you have finished your meal, I could not recommend a stroll down Carlisle Street more highly. Be sure to collect a bunch of sesame and poppy seed bagels from Glick’s and seek out the new smash-hit self-serve yoghurt joint ‘Yo-Chi’ for dessert. Upon the successful completion of all three of these food-inspired adventures you are sure to be left in a blissful state.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Tip-top cafe fare
Noise: Hustle bustle
Suitable for: The young and old
Dress: St Kilda cosmopolitan
Price: $15 – $20 per head
My View: A classic
Address: 320 Carlisle Street, Balaclava
Phone: (03) 9530 3550
Deep in the heart of Melbourne’s prized eating precinct of St Kilda you will find a small and friendly cafe that goes by the name of Miss Jackson (MJ). The address of these premises is 2/19 Grey Street, although humans would be wise to enter from Jackson Street – if in doubt use a Google map application or the good ol’ fashioned Melways.
MJ is a great neighborhood cafe run by a very friendly team that have been providing St Kilda with delicious cafe fare for some time now. From what I hear the menu has remained the same for a little while offering many customer favourites, in addition to 1-2 specials every day. All day breakfast with a handful of lunch options complemented with more-than drinkable coffee is really all you need to know. Sitting inside you may find your experience to be surprisingly comfortable, I must attribute this drawing card to the fact that MJ has been around before the ‘sit-on-top-of-each-other’ cafe model was introduced.
To kick off the festivities we shared a plate of crumbed polenta chips with harissa mayo ($7.50). One deliciously oily finger lathered in dipping sauce is all you need the edge off before each chommer’s individual dish arrives.
Spanish baked eggs with chorizo, char grilled capsicum and olives ($16.00). A classic combination that we all know and love. Also great to chom a large piece of toast with this dish.
Goat’s cheese omelette with fresh herbs and organic sourdough toast ($14.50). An egg variety that we all are fond of, made a trillion times better with the inclusion of the smash-hit ingredient of the decade, goat’s cheese - makes for yummy times. A wise chommer added a side of salty and juicy bacon to join in the fun – no complaints.
Scientists have reported that you need three things to live; water, shelter and schintzel. I’m not one to challenge scientific research and as such ordered the Panko schnitzel burger with radish and fennel slaw ($14.00). The MJ crew have gone down the thin+crunchy schnitty path, encased by the ever reliable Turkish roll and thrown some fresh slaw in the middle. A tasty burger that more than does the trick. You may want a side of mayo or tommy sauce to give it that extra booya! On another note, my near equal favourite reuben sanga is also available and will be sampled in the not-too-distant future.
A delicate and light option can be found in the breakfast crumble with apple, blackberry, pistachio granola and yoghurt ($9.00). Light on the lipids and the wallet, this is a nice muesli option complemented perfectly with the generous golf ball of yoghurt.
Corn fritters with bacon, avocado and roasted vine tomatoes with homemade chili jam ($15.00). A respectable serving of two soft, fluffy fritters carefully roofed by some crispy bacon and avocado slices. The spread-as-you like type of sauce allows you to sweeten these hot-cakes as much as you desire.
To finish this post on a heavy note, we went all out with the steak sandwich with caramelised onion, fresh tomato, rocket and fries ($15.50). Lightly toasted ciabatta coated nicely with a layer of mayo worked brilliantly to enclose the thick rare roast piece of protein inside. An excellent sandwich that I would be happy to recommend to all. Extra brownie points for top Maccas style fries.
If you can visualise yourself hoeing into some of this fine cafe grub after glancing over this here post then there is no need to hesitate. Opening hours are 7:00 – 4:00 every day bar Monday which should provide you with availability to enjoy. Although I did not take advantage of it this time, the space is fully licensed and as such a frothy or two could go down a treat upon the next visit.
The Important Details…
Noise: Very light music
Suitable for: All
Dress: Yes please
Price: $15 – $20 per head
Address: 2/19 Grey Street, St Kilda
Phone: (03) 9534 8415
Eitam Brami, Tomer Gian and Albert Einstein. Three names that you may never have heard in the same sentence until January 2012. For those who are out of the loop – one will just regard the trio as a nice bunch of Jewish gentleman. The in-the loop cafe crowd will know these three gents are the team behind the hugely popular cafe Einstein’s 251. (I am not 100% sure if Albert is a working partner or just a silent investor – please do not quote me on it).
The inside has been kitted out with all the regularities you would expect from a Melbourne cafe. I won’t delve into it because you all know it and all love it. Coffee is a central focus and with Gian behind the beautiful La Marzocco machine at almost any hour of the day, you are in capable hands. Grinding out kilo’s of Small Batch Roasters coffee seven days a week and a menu with a scientific twist there will surely be something here for you.
Now, to kick start the eating we ordered the Reuben sandwich – pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, pickles and Russian dressing ($14.50). I have to say they did an excellent job. There is no skimping on the meat, which always makes me smile and rings true to the US style of sandwiches. You can’t deny the combination of pickles and pastrami, enhanced by beautifully melted cheese and good quality bread.
Nobel Prize Winner – Warm haloumi and mushrooms with cashew nuts, cucumber, tomato, spanish onion and sesame seeds ($17.00). Good salads are hard to find these days – most of the time there is too much greenery. At Einstein’s they have defied my theory to provide a very substantial dish. The haloumi is fresh off the pan accompanied by warm mushrooms, both smothered in delicious teriyaki sauce. The sauce was similar to the miso glaze you will commonly find on nasuden – which I am in love with. A top dish.
E=MC² – Potato and spring onion fritters with grilled tomato, avocado, grilled haloumi, tomato relish and a poached egg ($17.50). Besides the fact that this has an amazing name about an equation I will never understand, this was a very wholesome, delicious dish. The best way that I would describe these fritters would be similiar to latkes, slighty more plump and less greasy. More value and less fatty = the chefs here could be geniuses. Add a perfectly poached egg on top with sweet relish all around – my friends, this is Chommery approved.
Theory of Relativity – Spiced grilled chicken, fresh tomato, beetroot, harissa aioli, Spanish onion and rocket ($13.00). Labelled the ‘not so serious’ chicken sandwich – I would have to agree compared to it’s Reuben brethren. A relatively basic option that has stood the test of time.
Jack’s Burger – Mixed lamb and beef patty, tomato, beetroot relish, pickles, spanish onion, aioli, lettuce with smokey cut chips ($17.50). This burger was almost too big to fit in the lens of our camera. The chommery himself did not acutally sample the burger because the pattty apparently contained pinenuts (unfortunate allergy). The report back described this beauty as very juicy and delicious, maybe a touch too much lettuce, easily fixed. The chips were awesome and who doesn’t love aioli?
Now, Eitam and Tomer may be geniuses or even potential descendants of the great man himself. Maybe they are just two blokes with their heads firmly screwed on who saw a gaping hole in the Caulfield cafe market. I cannot help but mention some serious help from their two lovely wives who manage the very busy floor Monday to Sunday. Einstein’s 251 has braved their location and been rewarded accordingly. Locals love it. It has brought great coffee and excellent cafe fare to an otherwise quiet strip. I will love and leave you on that note – we can all use our brains and give Einsteins’ a shot.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Smart cafe fare
Suitable for: All people
Dress: Preferably in clothes or a lab coat
Price: $15 – $20 per head w coffee
My View: Easily the best Caulfield has to offer!
Address: 251 Hawthorn Road, Caulfield North
Phone: (03) 9939 51365
It was difficult to contain my excitement for the much anticipated, and hyped up release of two epic sequels both hitting Melbourne in the same week. The third and final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, and the opening of the latest project by the highly talented team who brought us Three Bags Full – Two Birds One Stone. I followed both of these projects closely as they moved through each stage of development, though in my mind only one met my high expectations.
The space is bright and comfortable and the heater is on high and works very well. The design is simple, clean and very effective. We perched our group inside one of the booths running along the side of the premises. These were sitting around round tables which encourage conversation and are still appropriate for private discussions. If you can brave the cold, seating is available on Claremont Street where you can get front row seats to the construction of upcoming residential spaces.
Coffees are a no-brainer here, with Five Senses in charge of the bean supply and highly skilled baristas manning the machine. You can take comfort you are in good hands. Flat white and regular coffee varieties are $3.80. The lactose intolerant option – add 20 cents.
The blonde omelette with hot smoked salmon, fennel, chili and coriander ($16.50). Everyone loves omelettes, even if this one wasn’t the smartest egg in the bunch. A fluffy choice, served with a spicy side salad and only one piece of toast. Damn! Different use of salmon being cooked in the egg rather than a side dropped on after cooking.
Good to know that the staple breakfast favourites are done well. Above is scrambled eggs ($9.50) with avocado ($4.00) and bacon ($4.00). The eggs are soft and buttery – just how I like em’. Meanwhile, half an avocado is generous and the rashers of pig are crispy and very chommable.
A monster breakfast for someone with a huge appetite. The two birds breakfast: eggs, bacon, pork chili and fennnel sausage, mushroom, spinach and tomato relish ($18.50). Somehow, I feel that two birds would struggle with this plate, but anyway. Eggs with a great range of companions to make for the signature option. The sausages are certainly the featured side, sitting so eloquentlly on the top. At $18.50, that is a very reasonable South Yarra price tag for a serving of this size.
When you’re offering the same dish that has become a staple on just about every Melbourne cafe menu, it better tick all of my boxes. Avocado and feta mash ($15.50) with a side of bacon ($4.00). I’m easily pleased – loads of avo, two pieces of toast will keep a smile on my face. The garnishes of tomato and capers provided that extra bit of jazz and flavour. And who can resist a side of crispy bacon? Is there anything it doesn’t go well with?
The fourth and final egg inspired choice for today’s post. Eggs benedict with house smoked ham hock and bearnaise sauce ($16.50). This was a very satisfying meal and one that I do not eat enough of. The eggs – poached, the sauce thick and rich making for a delicious experience. Extra marks for the chunks of hock being used instead of the cheaper, lamer shaved leg ham that usually accompanies this dish.
If fritters aren’t one of the most scrumptious breakfast options nowadays call me Miles Davis. The charred corn and zucchini fritter with guacamole, halumi and house smoked salmon ($16.00) were awesome. The pig in me wanted to see a third fritter lying with his two mates on their bed of avocado. Nevertheless, this was a solid portion size. The fritters were lightly fried complemented by the award winning match of fish and avo made for an eating delight.
Two Birds One Stone appears to be shaping up to be yet another success story by a team of experts that certainly have their magic formula down pat. A journey from APTE in Heidelberg, to Liar Liar in Hawthorn, Three Bags Full in Abbotsford, and now Birds in South Yarra. A rumoured two more projects are on the cards – it would appear the sky is the limit. For all the dedicated Bags lovers, I would describe the new Birds as a smaller, more relaxed space, maintaining a strong focus on good coffee and food. The ‘off the main drag’ location makes for a small getaway from the bustle on Toorak Road and one where you can sip your latte in some sort of peace. Time to flap those wings and fly to South Yarra to nest yourself at Two Birds One Stone.
The Important Details…
Noise: Nice and relaxed
Suitable for: Humans
Dress: As you wish
Price: $15 – $25 per head
My View: One of the nicest thing to happen to South Yarra in a long time
Address: 12 Claremont Street, South Yarra
Phone: (03) 9827 1228
The Chommery visited Hobart, Tasmania for three days and two nights during the winter of 2012. The plan was to visit the much hyped MONA museum and to eat our way through Hobart. Looking back on my short trip, I believe that both tasks were accomplished and kept to a very good standard. Just to let you know, I am not a museum person by a long shot. To put it in perspective I am the sort of guy who is more excited by the museum cafe than the actual exhibition. Don’t Judge! Nevertheless, MONA was epic and most definitely worth visiting. You will see some crazy sh*t that you have never imagined or seen before.
Now, let us get to the serious business regarding the food scene in Hobart right now. I have to admit sampling the cuisine on offer is always a highlight of travelling for me. The following is a short overview of five places that are Chommery Approved suggestions for visitors and locals to inspect in Hobart.
Jackman & McRoss Bakery - Battery Point
First stop was at Hobart’s famous Jackman & McRoss bakery in Battery Point. Many guide books and online forums regard this as an institution for Hobart, popular for domestic and foreign individuals. Another Jackman can be located in Cross Street, New Town too.
They have an amazing selection of fresh breads and pastries available to take home. If only we had a kitchen during our short visit we would have gone home with several loaves of bread and maybe some croissants – a couple of brioches too. The locals seriously love this place, continually pouring in and out picking up fresh treats and loads of take away coffee.
I had the egg + salmon construction which can be seen in the bottom left hand photo. This dish was pre-made, and usually I would avoid such sort of dishes. When in Hobart it is okay to make an exception. While I certainly prefer my poached eggs, this was a pleasant alternative. Perched on top of the pastry is horseradish if you were curious. The fruit brioche (top right) worked well to fuel our engines. No signs of stingyness on the butter or jam to accompany.
A great bakery run by delightful staff in a great pocket of Hobart. Perfect spot to chill out, read the paper and have a naughty snack at any time of the day. Even if you don’t visit any of the restaurants/cafes in Battery Point, it is worth heading down for a stroll to admire the buildings and the special views of the water.
Address: 57-59 Hampden Road, Battery Point
Hours: Mon-Fri 7:30am-6:00pm. Sat-Sun 7:30am-5:00pm
Environs Cafe - Battery Point
We just could not get enough of Battery Point, so we chose to hit up Environs for a late breakfast the following day. This was yet another laid back cafe in the heart of Hobart, offering an all day breakfast menu with lunch options too. The menu looked very special here, with some awesome sounding choices including french toast with labne, ricotta pancakes and a breakfast wagyu burger. As a self confessed ‘sucker’ for porridge we just could not go past that. Furthermore, we had to try to eat semi-healthily for some meals when you are on an extended eating adventure.
The Beatles once oh so eloquently put it, and now Einstein has confirmed that ‘all you need is love’ . But for breakfast, all I needed was two poached eggs on bruschetta ($9.00) with a side of chutney ($2.00) and home made sausage ($3.50) (bottom left).
A very satisfying coffee both in taste and visuals. A smooth, creamy flat white that was drunk with pleasure. Loving the leafy latte art – always makes me smile. Meanwhile, the porridge with quince, brandied sultanas and maple syrup ($10.00) is featured above. The memorable quote from this fine breakfast was ‘this is one of the best porridges I have ever eaten/slurped’. Big call considering we deem ourselves as almost porridge connoisseurs. Funnily enough, the waitress motioned that it would not taste as good being made with water as it would with milk. Imagine if we ordered with milk!
The Chommery would definitely go back to Environs in a heartbeat, not to mention recommending this spot to others to satisfy the eternal hunger cravings.
Address: 38 Waterloo Crescent, Battery Point
Hours: Mon-Sat 7:30am-5:00pm. Sun 8:00am-4:00pm
Ethos Eat Drink - Hobart
Ethos Eat Drink is located in Hobart’s city and was one of the two strong recommendations we received for dinner choices. The other one, also found in Hobart’s centre, is Garagistes. Naturally, during our day we ventured out to both options, read the menu, poked our heads inside in order to decide where we would dine on our first night. After a series of long winded evaluations, cost analysis and thought patterns we decided on Ethos. A great choice too, if I don’t say so myself.
Fried chickpeas with chilli salt ($5.00). Amazing entree that we hoovered up in the space of minutes while we perused the menu and began important discussions. This was a very different starter, crunchy and totally addictive.
A little warning, if you are on a budget or you are a massive eater like myself, this will be a very pricy meal. Not to say that I thought we were taken for a ride, you are paying top dollar for excellent cuisine using preimum produce, which is all part of Ethos’ ethos. As you will notice on this post, the menu items do not explain what the dish actually is. It will say maybe three or four ingredients that are involved in each menu item, what these ingredients will combine to make is not exactly stated. For us this was good fun, after we ordered the dishes, we had no idea what we were in for. We were overall very pleasantly surprised. If that is not your ideal situation (which I am sure is the case for most), the kind staff are very knowledgable in the changing menu and will gladly explain any item to you.
Complimentary house made bread with salt and butter. Naturally, the first plate was demolished within seconds. The kind staff were more than obliging to keep fuelling my carbohydrate demands. Butternut squash, crisps and blue cheese ($19.00) (bottom left). Pork and onion cevapi ($19.00) (bottom right).
Smoked ox tongue, pickled shallots and horseradish ($15.00) (top left). Potentially my first experience with tongue. The conclusion, salty and oniony. Quails egg, anchovy and celery salt ($5.00 each) (top right). Each one of these were flavor explosions as the yolk dripped out of crust. Pork fillet dumplings with black beans ($5.00) (bottom left). Goat’s haloumi with lemon ($19.00) (bottom right). Not the cheapest haloumi that I have met in my chomming. Nevertheless, it was grilled perfectly on the outside and the inside was warm and just delightful.
Venison leg, beetroots and horseradish ($27.00). A memorable ending to an awesome feast with this scrumptious dish of soft meat. The dish above is certainly not just delicious but a work of art from the brilliant people in the kitchen at Ethos.
We accompanied our meal with a bottle of Mother’s Milk shiraz – worked magnificently.
Our original plan was in need of slight revision after our memorable meal at Ethos. We were going to be heading to Hobart’s other famous gastronomic restaurant Garagistes for what we imagined to be another blow your mind, degustation-esque meal. We just could not get our act together in terms of appetite and finances for a consecutive meal the next evening. With that in mind, we decided to go to a local favourite called Da Angelo to get a basic pizza/pasta fix. We did this exactly, one pizza, one pasta and two very happy and not-as-poor campers.
Address: 100 Elizabeth Street, Hobart
Hours: Tue-Fri 10:00am-Late. Sat 9:00am-Late. Sun 9:00am-3:00pm
Ecru Coffee - Hobart
How special did we feel visiting this ‘hole in the wall’ cafe on their opening day? – very. Although, we were very surprised that this was their first day of trading. With no exaggerating on my part, there was a continual line of people for the entire time we were around. So much so that I had to ask extremely politely to a small bunch to allow me to take this quick snap. We found out that Ecru is the newly born small little brother of the very popular cafe Villino. Villino is said to be a long time Hobart favourite, popular for a mean esspresso and a variety of bagel options. Due to appetite and time restrictions we did not get a chance to visit though.
For the Melbourne people, you will really appreciate Ecru if you are a fan of Brother Baba Budan and Patricia Coffee Brewers. As I feel this has been done in a similar small and intimate way. The cofee heads will appreciate a changing single origin bean as well as a cold drip option. We found Ecru Coffee as a great spot for a caffeine injection (I had 4 coffees because I sampled them all), and not to mention an excellent information booth. The two characters here knew the Hobart food scene in and out and sent us on our way in good chomming directions.
Address: 18 Criterion Street, Hobart
Hours: Mon-Fri 7:00am-3:00pm
Pigeon Hole – West Hobart
After recommendations from the blokes at Ecru Coffee, Ethos staff and fellow trusted blogger Poppet’s Window, heading to Pigeon Hole was a certainty on our final day in Hobart. We had time to kill and our stomachs were rumbling (what’s new?), and we were confident that a trip to this compact cafe would cure our fixable problems. After the visit we were cured.
How lovely to be confronted with the coffee know how as soon as you walk into the hole. It is clear the birds behind this project know a thing or two about coffee with my favourite combination of Mazzer grinder and La Marzocco coffee machine. The proof is in the pudding, or in this case the mug of flat white pictured above. Excellent coffee found here folks.
A nice breakfast+lunch menu serving a limited variety of options all made on premises. Pictured to the right is the eggs with jamon, onion, spinach and grana ($11.70). Truthfully, an interesting choice and one that I have not had anywhere before. It could be described as a baked egg options with ham mixed through with strong white cheese to cover. A memorable choice. How brilliant do those cakes look?
The love affair with porridge never seems to cease with The Chommery. Porridge with organic kindred oats, cream and roasted walnuts ($9.50). This was on the sweeter side of regular porridge as it was pre-sugared/spiced when it arrived. No problems here, as the famous saying goes ‘the more sugar the merrier’. A beautiful porridge that was served at the optimal warmth with excellent consistency. We rated it 7.5 oats out of ten.
Address: 89 Goulbourn Street, Hobart
Although, I would admit this cafe is slightly larger than an actual pigeon hole it is probably not by much. As such the name is very befitting for the size of this little gem. Serving a very substantial menu for this size of premises is really quite an achievement. The Chommery felt a real underlying Melbourne vibe when dining here, something to do with the compactedness or even the fashionably isolated location. Either way, this is a top notch cafe that is really warm and welcoming to people of all types. Be it breakfast, lunch or espresso, Pigeon Hole does not mind if you chill out like a bird for the day. The staff are very friendly and accomodating and this is a real asset to Hobart. Three thumbs up.
Hours: Tues-Sat 8:00am-4:30pm
Hobart is truly a lovely city, which is just as enjoyable if you are not into your food. I will finish up here with the awesome photo of a snow capped mountain taken during a daily stroll. Take the time to visit Tasmania.
When a new cafe springs up in relatively uncharted territory, one word that comes to mind is ‘Respect’. Respect to the owners of the establishment that brave a new location and attempt to bring new-hip life to a new area. We all know starting a business is a big risk which can be even greater if the location is yet to be deemed a destination. Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea, is slowly but surely becoming a destination with particular thanks to Spout.
Spout co-owners Dvash and Zul saw the opportunity here and took on the challenge with full force. I’m sure there were some initial concerns whether Spout would be a hit or not in this low-density cafe part of Melbourne. But the fears were quickly alleviated. From opening day onwards the crowds have not stopped pouring in or out of this little gem. Visiting Spout for the first time a good two months in, it would appear that Spout is not a one off visit – it is already a beloved local hangout. Good on ya boys!
The inside dining space is cosy, intimate and warm. The staff greet you as you arrive in a very unpretentious manner, which unfortunately is so rare in new cafes in Melbourne these days. As best as they could, they helped fulfill our need for a rather large table, with ease on such a busy Sunday morning. After a surprisingly short wait, we were seated and gazed over the scrumptious sounding menu. A date porridge, chorizo sumac, and pan-fried challah were some of the breakfast options which we will be back for next time. On the lunch side, a schnitzel or corned beef ’sanga’ or the smoked salmon pastrami took my eye and were noted for future choms.
From left we have a smooth cappuccino and a soy latte. Dvash takes charge of the coffee machine, pumping out consistently good Allpress Esspresso. Complemented by my love affair with Bonsoy, Spout’s coffee are no frills. Just damn good caffeine hits.
Shakshuka with haloumi and Trukish Bread ($15.50). Wikipedia claims that this breakfast dish could originate in Algeria or Tunisia. While this may well be true, my fondest memories are eating this in Israel in the morning at most good cafes. Shakshuka – in English is usually eggs, cooked in a tomato stew made of tomatoes (obviously), peppers and onions. Zul has done an excellent job of replicating this dish and serving it in the Southern Hemisphere. A Chommery approved breakfast choice. Totally delicious.
Homemade baked beans tagine with persian feta and Turkish bread ($14.50). Almost a nostalgic feeling came over me when these beans were placed in front of me. I can remember so vividly, eating the Heinz baked beans on toast when I was a tot. These were significantly better than Heinz and I have only been in contact with feta in my more recent eating years. Neverthless, baked beans make for a wholesome, delicious feed. The pre-cut bread made for easy tearing and then dipping in the homemade tomato-based sauce. Love.
Spiced bircher muesli with yoghurt, strawberries and pistachio ($7.50). Great consistency with just enough spice to taste but not too overpowering. The pistachios make for a nice final touch on this light meal. Very reasonably priced breakfast option if I don’t say so myself.
Soft, creamy scrambled eggs ($9.00), cooked in the way we all know and love. Complemented by toasted Turkish bread, avocado mash ($3.00) and crispy bacon ($4.00). Need I go on any further? Excellent news for all the ‘don’t butter my bread’ folk, you will be relieved to know that it automatically comes on the side. You can spread or not spread as much you like.
Arranging a perfect adventure, one chommer would recommend a lovely outing down Ripponlea way consisting of the following activities. Head to Spout for a lovely breakfast/lunch and coffee, pop into Firebrand Bakery and pick up a fresh loaf of sourdough, grab some Yumi’s dips capped off with a visit to the famous Attica and try your luck on getting a booking for dinner. Ripponlea is most certainly undergoing a change to become a very popular destination in Melbourne. Spout is one of the main driving forces – so get on board and join in the movement while you can.
The Important Details…
Noise: Happening buzz
Suitable for: All folk
Price: $15-$20 per head
My View: Perfect spot for breakfast and lunch
Address: 48 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea
Phone: (03) 9523 8155
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
Located on Barkers road, Replete Providore is aimed at the local neighbourhood market rather than the indie folk following the hip cafe scene. Nonetheless, this cafe does not disappoint when it comes to the adorable fit out or the food. I need to be honest with my loyal readers and say that we started this eating adventure on an unpleasant note.
I don’t want to delve too much into the negative and take credit away from this nearly-excellent cafe. We did have some minor issues at the start when our booking was double booked and the waiter, who had his nickers in a knot, then had a small heated discussion with one of my fellow diners. The service was very slow – menus, coffees and food. But I had great company and the food was super. The good outweighed the bad.
The dining area at the front can be rather confined and there is minimal outdoor seating, or there is a room at the rear, (not featured) as alternatives. This front room was well lit with natural light and I would suggest this as the best environment for your Replete experience. You can expect regular clutter and noise from the featured dining space. I always like to sit where the action is.
Soy latte ($3.80). We kind of felt like our coffee orders got lost in the mail or something. Waited over the acceptable time for these and did have to nudge one of the waiters politely to check on them. Once it arrived, it was really good (as you would hope if it took so long). My latte was creamy, at good temperature and perfect head – nothing like a good head.
Ricotta hotcakes with Replete lemon curd and fresh strawberries ($15.50). These look decadent, and they probably don’t help the hips but they were so light and fluffy that it didn’t seem like you were pigging out! One particular chommer said the hotcakes tasted even better than when she visited 18 months prior. The lemon curd (lemon butter) worked excellently as a spread for each cake. Order these!
A traditional Swiss style bircher muesli ($11.00). This bircher was definitely more milky than most birchers and was not anything special. My friend found it lacking in noticeable oat flakes, which some may find appealing. Perhaps the muesli trifle (which looks epic in pictures) with fruit would be a suitable alternative.
Two english muffins with Replete fritters, spinach, two poached eggs and hollandaise sauce ($15.50). You can put anything on an old school English muffin and it will taste good. A delicious option that worked well to cure the Sunday hangover. The dish speaks for itself, very order-again-able. I must say, how bloody fine is hollandaise sauce?
Replete corn fritters with smoked salmon and a poached egg and a tomato chilli relish ($16.50). These were seriously delicious and will not be forgotten for a while. A fabulous mixture of corn, zucchini and feta was used to develop this stack. I especially admired how these held their shape so well, even though they were only lightly pan fried. Once you add some fresh salmon and a perfectly poached egg you are in eating nirvana. A chommery approved suggestion would be to order the fritters and the hot cakes. Divide that all up between two hungry chommers.
It truly was an amazing turn around in our customer satisfaction levels from the start of this experience to the end. After the complications that took place at the start of our visit and the overall average service that continued throughout, we all left with smiles on our faces. Pretty unbelievable, but true. We almost got up to leave within the first 15 minutes of the visit and now I am trying to find more friends to go back again. A big change in heart. Fingers crossed, the service on that Sunday was having an off morning – which can happen. They are only human. I believe that Replete Providore is well worth seeking out if you love your food as much as we do at The Chommery.
The Important Details…
Noise: Regular cafe buzz
Bookings: You can and we did
Suitable for: All
Dress: It’s a cafe. Chilled.
Price: $15 – $25 per head
My View: Average service outweighed by excellent food and top company
Address: 302 Barkers Road, Hawthorn
Phone: (03) 9818 4448
Finding a good lunch destination around the Chapel Street precinct can be a daunting experience. One must have their wits about them when making the crucial decision of which cafe to place your bottom in. There are a plethora of overpriced, commercial and frankly down right unappealing spots to grab some lunch on/around possibly Melbourne’s most iconic Street. Thankfully, for your sake, you are reading The Chommery, which will bestow upon you the power of knowledge. With this knowledge you can eat happy & eat happy you will.
The crazy crew behind The Chommery would recommend Tyranny of Distance, located on Union Street, Windsor as a super spot for a feed. Just look how happy the bloke in two different shoes is standing out front! Carefully placed, just away from the frantic Chapel street, Tyranny is conveniently open from breakfast to dinner every day of the week. We headed on down here on a lazy Sunday morning after we avoided some of the berserk crowds we noticed at all the well-known ‘hot-spots’ in South Yarra and Prahran. If you are looking to relax and skip the up-to hour long queues then Tyranny is a solid choice.
Let me be the first one to tell you that it’s preferable to sit in the room pictured above. When the room that is photographed is full, often the staff will direct you towards an atmosphereless, dark and dingy over-flow room. I will not eat/drink at Tyranny unless I’m placed in the room above. The main dining room is open plan and spacious. You can smoke in there with good ventilation, and last but not least, those funky gas cylinders placed all around the shop are very funky.
Some teas and coffees to start? Why not. Soy Latte (left @$3.50) and Chai Latte ($4.00). Personally, I am not a fan of the soy milk used at Tyranny. Sorry to sound like a massive fuss pot, but the Nature’s Own Soy brand tastes terrible. I drank it, but didn’t love it. The chai Latte arrived nicely presented on an Olde English tray using loose leaf chai and a side of honey.
I usually prefer the table orders an array of different and exciting dishes when The Chommery is considering writing up an eatery. On this day, we could not help but order a very egg-fuelled assortment of breakfasts. You can not blame us though, ey! Scrambled eggs with mushroom, cured salmon and flatbread ($14.50). Totally adore the homemade flatbread here. I think everyone does. The salmon was fresh, the shrooms were buttery and flavoursome and the scrambled eggs were fluffy with little hints of parsley.
Poached eggs with avocado, cured salmon and flatbread ($15.50). Very generous serving of avocado – nearly a full one. Can you ever be served too much? Eggs poached perfectly. Once again – no complaints from here. The flat bread can be used as a sponge – like friend to mop the egg yolk up!
Scrambled eggs with grilled tomato, spinach, mushrooms, and housemade flatbread ($17.50).
Spanish style baked eggs with chorizo, roasted capsicum, smoked paprika, tomato compote and sweet onion ($13.50). I would describe this as a great replica of an Israeli style dish called Shakshuka – which I really love. On the topic of love, I loved this dish t0o. I rated the big chunks of juicy chorizo and sweet potato pieces floating in the stew as well as the eggs cooked in a different way. Besides the fact I burnt my entire mouth when I started eating, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal.
I have eaten at Tyranny many times. An affordable and easily likeable dinner menu is on each night as well. The lunch offerings are pleasant too, with many flat bread varieties (can’t get enough of that flatbread). It’s not the warmest inside the Tyranny, so I would suggest rugging up and heading down for B/L or D (breakfast, lunch or dinner). Even the late night beer or wine may take your fancy as well.
No need to keep your distance from Tyranny of Distance.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Regular cafe fare
Noise: Gentle buzz
Bookings: Possible but hard to organise
Suitable for: Most types
Dress: Funky as you feel
Price: $20 per head
My View: Groovy cafe – Great flat bread!
Address: 147 Union Street, Windsor
Phone: (03) 9525 1005