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
Axil Coffee Roasters is a brilliant cafe and could very well be one of the best in Melbourne. Need I say more? Probably not. Will I waffle on for a bit and talk about my experience? Yes. If your goal for logging on to this post was to decide whether or not to try the lovely Axil, I would say, yes, go! If you keep reading, I have warned you that I like to have a good waffle. Mmmmm waffles.
A grand looking entrance that fronts onto to Burwood Road and is situated a few metres away from the corner of Glenferrie Road in Hawthorn. The only outside seating can be seen in the above photo. Personally, I think you will have a much more enjoyable Axil experience sitting within the beast.
A bright open dining area that makes use of the signature Melbourne exposed ventilation and hanging lights among other pleasant features. You may notice the great hanging pot plant display that divides the space between the eating-in customers and the abundance of staff working their butts off behind a long work bench on the right hand side.
The soy latte was creamy, bubble free and smooth($4.00). I wouldn’t expect anything else from a cafe that not only has their own Axil coffee products station, but also a full roasting factory at the rear of the premises. You can tell that the crew behind this joint are most definitely into coffee, as well as coffee related paraphernalia.
How can anyone go past a steak sandwich ($17.00)? But really, a classic Aussie favourite that dates back to when Captain Cook first discovered Australia. Served in toasted turkish bread with rocket salad and other nice insides, not to mention a decent quality fillet. The side potato salad with mayo and red onion was a nice companion. If the other sangas are also getting served in halves, could be an option to split with a friend to sample a second.
You may have heard of the BigMac index, more recently the iPod index. The latest one of all, taking Melbourne by storm is the smashed avocado and fetta index. Now that this breakfast dish has become a staple addition to pretty much every cafe in Melbourne, we can make our own measures and conclusions of each one. Lo and behold, the smashed avocado ($14.50) at Axil was pretty damn good. This was the consensus of the group and not just the humble opinion of The Chommery. Points were awarded for the second piece of sourdough, the overly generous serving of mash and the complementary lemon.
Doesn’t the combination of greens, white, red, yellow and a few more shades of green just look magnificent. Even if this dish tasted like crap – which it certainly did not, I would have to give votes just for the amazing use of colour. These were the fritters ($17.00). A careful incision was made by no one else but a budding surgeon on this poached egg. He deemed it to be impeccably cooked.
A pasta/gnocchi dish is a very upmarket (dinner-esque) offering for a cafe – I wanted one of my fellow chommers to order it so we could see how Axil’s fared. We ordered the veal ragu with gnocchi (yes – I know that is penne ($21.00). The penne was a late substitution and we were all a little worried when we were informed of this by our bubbly waitress. The pasta was cooked exactly to our liking, al dente, and none of that watery soggy stuff either. The small cubes of veal were almost falling apart off the fork as you took each mouthful. What a great variation to standard cafe fare – a beautiful dish.
The food just kept getting better and better. The lamb wrap ($17.00) was really sensational. The lamb had been prepared in a similar fashion to the veal, in that it was as soft as cake – too good. An amazing (possibly home-made) tomato salsa and humus dressing formed a bed for the tabouleh to rest on top. My only criticism is that after I had been peer pressured to fold up the wrap and start eating it like a man, the package became much smaller. This in turn, meant my eating experience was much quicker.
I took the time to find the real definition of the word axil. Until earlier I thought it had something to do with bikes and levers. Dictionary.com defines it as ‘the upper surface of a branch or leafstalk and the stem from which it grows’ (WTF is correct). I tried several times to combine this with a witty ending note for my post using the name in some sort of pun. The result was negative. I will leave you on this note.
No more waffling, time to get serious. Axil Coffee Roasters is the bomb. Go and enjoy a beautiful breakfast or lunch.
The Important Details…
Noise: Not quiet
Suitable for: All
Dress: As you like
Price: $15 – $25 a head
My View: One of Melbourne’s best Cafe – well in my top 10
Address: 322 Burwood Road, Hawthorn
Phone: (03) 9819 0091
The single thought that cannot escape my mind every time I think of the St. Kilda Galleon Cafe is ‘consistency’. It is a basic fundamental concept that a customer would expect in continual interactions with any business. More often than not, you would be hard pressed to find many cafes that are consistent in serving up excellent cafe fare, extracting smooth coffees and staying competitive with their pricing. Look no further than Galleon if the above mentioned criteria floats your vessel.
You will find The Galleon nestled nicely at the beginning of cosmopolitan Carlisle Street in St Kilda and just far enough from the intersection of the ever iconic Acland Street. For The Chommery, we strongly prefer cafes located slightly off the main drag for the simple reasons that the prices are often cheaper and the crowd attracted generally ‘want’ to go to the cafe, rather than it be just a place to eat and leave. Outside, Galleon is comprised of some multi-coloured and assorted seating along Carlisle Street where you can catch some serious vitamin D when the sun is saying hello.
I adore the fit-out inside; comprising an assortment of old retro mullti coloured tables and a unique array of chairs surely collected from here, there and everywhere. Not to mention the fact that bar a couple of minimal renovations, the look has safely been kept intact for many years.
Galleon seems to rest its reputation on consistently producing simple, yet satisfyingly tasty food demonstrated through an all day breakfast (the best) and a lunch menu from an early 11:00am. Porridges, pancakes and eggs are all completed with a great variety of sides and toppings for breakky. Lunch could be anything from homemade Spanokopita Salad to a vegie burger or even a spiced lamb souvlaki salad.
Soy Late ($4.00) & Long Black ($3.20). No fancy barista styles or single origin blends at this place (which is more than fine), just smooth and ever dependable caffeine hits morning through till afternoon.
The Galleon burger with an egg ($15.80) will generally do the trick if you are looking for a meal of considerable size. Filled with all your standard insides and patty coated with melted cheese, I”m sure y’all can see one of these in front of you soon. Watch out, once the egg’s yolk combines with the beetroot juice it can form quite a spot on your pants or top. The edible pickle garnish works well holding this bad boy together.
A Beef sandwich with salad and cream cheese ($10.00). Sandwiches are a classic. They’re pretty straight forward, yet so many cafes mess them up. For a sandwich, this was fairly decent. There was a good filling to condiment ratio with well-portioned bread slices. I must say, once in a while you just feel like a regular joe and a regular sanga is all that is needed to satisfy.
Poached Eggs ($8.80) with bacon ($3.50) and relish ($1.50) on multi grain. Perfectly poached eggs, crispy bacon and a sweet dressing to coat – Need I say m0re? Well, one more – Heaven!
Scrambled eggs on sourdough ($8.80) with side of mushrooms ($3.50) and sweet potato hash brown ($3.50) on rye bread. No one ever orders scrambled anymore, and to those that do, I salute you! Yellow, soft and buttery couldn’t better describe Galleon’s scrambled. The heavily fried sweet potato bomb on the side works a charm with this and other dishes offered.
Continually drawing a diverse and eclectic range of people, Galleon continues to it’s winning formula a pleasing everyone (well, almost everyone, some people are unpleasable – fact). Galleon opens it’s blinds to the public seven days a week from 7am to 5pm. Don’t be surprised if you spot a celeb or two, maybe even a footy player chomming down some grub at this St Kilda institution. To close my spiel on a powerful note - Galleon is St Kilda. St Kilda is Galleon.
The Important Details…
Suitable For: Young and old
Dress: Whatever Trevor
Price: $15 – $20 per head
My View: A classic spot that rarely faults
Address: 9 Carlisle Street, St Kilda
Phone: (03) 9534 8934