Servery and Spoon – An Open Letter to the Owner

Dear Mr Spoon,

Firstly please forgive me for not doing my research and finding your actual name, however, I’m very busy writing blogs, consulting and generally trying to be constructive to our beautiful hospitality industry. I’m hoping you won’t take offence at me calling you Mr Spoon, feel free to call me Oliver or even Sir, whatever you’re more comfortable with.

I’d imagine you have received numerous letters of complaints since opening from various crapulent, whining, vomit inducing, self-proclaimed experts. No doubt complaints range from the usual; the music was a decibel to loud, what a din, to the obscure; I ate in your restaurant and was startled to see that the egg was in fact not from a devoutly organic, scientology following chicken. These surely suck the very marrows from both you and your staff that are so eager to please, putting your egos and self-confidence aside by placing passion into your food, only to be sucker-punched by an armchair expert on a power trip on Urbanspoon.

As a result I wanted to put my thoughts of this morning’s breakfast into the public forum

Dukkah Crusted Eggs, roasted mushrooms, avocado on sourdough with grilled lime and ricotta.

Dukkah Crusted Eggs, roasted mushrooms, avocado on sourdough with grilled lime and ricotta.

and say what I’d imagine in this technology-centred culture is a rare thanks.

Your cafe itself is very welcoming, rustic charm with the Melbourne twist that we all so very much love. We were greeted, not with welcome arms like George Clooney if he’d have survived the Perfect Storm (a horrible movie by the way, 2 hours of my life that I’ll never get back), but by pleasant friendliness with an air of efficiency. The menu itself, not a picture book, not parachuted from the second story or flown in by doves riding unicorn backs, but again, an old-fashioned piece of paper. I was torn on what to order, always a good sign as generally I narrow down very easily. You had me worried for a moment, dukkah eggs, chorizo and kipfler hash or a smoked bacon omelette, so I had a quiet pep talk to myself, “Oliver don’t f*ck this up, Sunday is a highlight of the week, don’t ruin your whole day by ordering badly, leaving this pivotal decision to rot and chew away at your soul for the rest of your waking hours.”

Don’t you worry Mr Spoon, my pre-match team talk worked, I ordered dukkah crusted eggs, a sexy little dish made up of avocado smashed over fresh, crispy sourdough, spinach which had been lovingly wilted to within the cusp of giving up on it’s spinachy world, and pesto and dukkah circling the main event…. 2 perfectly poached and fried eggs with a dukkah crust. Thanks Mr Spoon, just thanks. On a day when I said goodbye to a best friend at the airport, I needed you to step up to the plate and you did just that. If I’m going to be honest with you, if I’d cut into those eggs to reveal a solid yolk, you’d have had a real scene in your restaurant, you’d have seen a grown man cry and tantrum. As it is, they were perfection, absolute liquid gold and when I teamed them with your pesto I could have kissed you (thanks for not being around as my girlfriend sat opposite may have frowned upon that).

Smashed avocado with halloumi and hash brown

Smashed avocado with halloumi and hash brown

My missus had the smashed avocado with halloumi and a side of hash brown, which too was the shizz. The highlight, naturally, was being able to say my joke (what did the cheese say to the mirror? Hellooo mi! she’s not heard that before…), but very closely followed by the crispy hash brown, delicious (armchair chef’s hat on, how about some rosemary in those bad boys?).

So thanks Mr Spoon (I really hope that after all we’ve been through we’ll be on first name terms soon) for what was a fantastic breakfast, a highlight of the weekend and for not reducing me to an emotional wreck in public. Keep up the excellent work and we’ll see you soon for the chorizo and kipfler hash and the smoked bacon omelette.
Servery & Spoon on Urbanspoon

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Breakfast Thieves

I’m a public school boy from the UK, I grew up in a place called Swanland and enjoy nothing more than a cup of tea before bed. A Sunday involves a trip to the South Melbourne market, having brunch with friends and hopping in bed by 8.30pm to read The Age.

You probably wouldn’t call me ‘Edgy.’

So trips up to Brunswick and Fitzroy are always good fun for me, my inner quirkiness comes out; I throw on my mint coloured shorts and really let the dogs out.

This weekend we met some friends at ‘Breakfast Thieves’ in Fitzroy, an old chocolate The Leprechaunfactory converted into an uber-trendy hide-out for brunch goers. The place is decked out nicely and has a funky atmosphere. After the usual long black (they use STREAT beans), we ordered. My friends went for ‘The Leprechaun,’ roughly translated as corn fritters on rosemary roasted carrot puree, avocado-yuzu mousse, pickled cucumber pomegranate salad & poached eggs. This looked delicious and by all accounts didn’t disappoint; for reference it’s generally frowned upon to lean over and dig in without an invitation.

The LegendOur other friend ordered ‘The Legend,’spicy baked eggs with spanish chorizo, mushrooms, green peas, feta, served with herbed garlic toast; from a man that loves his eggs he claimed these were the best baked eggs in Melbourne… the boldest claim since Bieber claimed he’d beat the f**k out of a reporter.

DSC_0456I opted for the Spanish Gypsy Dance; Crisp-polenta crusted poached eggs, Spanish morcilla (black pudding), peperonata, wild rocket on toasted gluten free toast with a side of potato rosti. These were incredible, I love black pudding at the best of times and generally dislike polenta at the best of times, I find it boring and more work than it’s worth but together the black pudding and eggs were just beautiful.

Barring a couple of waitressing mistakes which were apologised more than necessary for, I couldn’t fault the meal. Everything was cooked beautifully and I enjoyed every mouthful… although maybe the gluten free chocolate brownie to finish with wasn’t needed (oomph)!

Price – 8

Quality of food – 9

Atmosphere – 9

Breakfast Thieves on Urbanspoon

Hammer & Tong 412

DSC_0446I’m not a princess, I have very few expectations of restaurants but I do like the little things done well. My pet peeve of a number of restaurants is elaborate dishes, GDP of a small country spend on decor and furnishings and a wine list rivalling War and Peace only for it to be 40 degrees outside and I’m served room temperature, tepid water.

Hammer and Tong has a reputation, I generally don’t like reputations and like to form my own opinion, but the amount of people raving about the place couldn’t be ignored. We decided to give it a go and arrived at about 10.00am to be seated straight away (a real luxury in Melbourne, we’ll save my tirade about restaurant booking systems for a later date, watch out Chin Chin and Attica!). You can’t help but be impressed on first impressions, the space and interior is typically Melbourne, modern with an old, industrial, warehouse feel to it. We were seated, given menu’s and ice cold water, perfect to counter the hot weather, so far so good! The menu was fairly limited with some fairly unusual concoctions, think breakfast ramen with hen’s egg, oyster mushrooms, bacon dsahi and spring onions.

DSC_0449I struggled to order as I often do but opted left of field with a soft shell crab burger, Jax ordered the tomato fondue bruschetta, basil and buffalo boccocini. My burger came and it was spectacular; the brioche bun was sweet and toasted, asian slaw had a good hit of coriander and the crab was crunchy, moist and delicious, I loved this dish.

On the other hand Jax’s bruschetta came, it was burnt to a crisp and I almost felt bad watching her grimace her way through it whilst I ploughed into my work of art. I had a taste when she called it a day (as scripted, one of the real upsides to having a girlfriend) and unfortunately was pretty disappointed myself, all I could taste was ash from the cremated bread and the tomato sauce tasted sweet like the topping from a cheap pizza. My advice, choose wisely!

DSC_0451

Price – 8

Quality of food – 7

Atmosphere – 8

If you liked this post, take a look at my post on St Ali in South Melbourne; https://pleasesirbyoliver.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/st-ali-a-turning-point-in-a-mans-life/

 
Hammer & Tong on Urbanspoon

ISIT Cafe

It’s tennis season in Melbourne which means you can bet your last dollar on a few things that happen every year;

  • There will be hangovers
  • Bernard Tomic will let himself down on the court
  • Bernard Tomic will let himself down off the court

It’s the morning after the day before; a day of intense background tennis, multiple drinks and some 40 minute food queues and we decide to try out an eatery that we have heard about but never tried; Isit Cafe in Prahran, a witty name that Is(n’t) it?

DSC_0286We’re seated outside as it’s a nice day and my (albeit limited) attention is spent trying not to fall off the front step that my seat is precariously balanced on. I order a fresh orange and an iced chocolate which unfortunately is the best thing I do all day, the iced chocolate is like a stairway to heaven, a big hangover free heaven.

Unfortunately I ordered the Chorizo and smoked cheddar on seeded toast with poached egg, avocado, chipotle hollandaise and salsa, I was disappointed and heaven chewed me up, slowly opened and through me down to earth. Although on paper and the plate the whole meal looked like a dream, it had the finesse of a bull tap dancing in a china shop. i\It was seriously heavy, the chorizo and toast were dry and teamed with the hollandaise was a real struggle from start to finish.

Chorizo, Cheddar, Poached Eggs with Chipotle Hollandaise
Chorizo, Cheddar, Poached Eggs with Chipotle Hollandaise

Jax had the Chunky avocado & Persian feta with fresh chilli, mint & blistered cherry tomatoes on seeded toast, again this looked stunning and by all accounts was delicious. Verity had the Eggs Benedict with braised ham hock on a toasted english muffin & hollandaise, again, I stole some when she wasn’t looking and this too was great.

Chunky avocado & Persian feta with fresh chilli, mint & blistered cherry tomatoes on seeded toast
Chunky avocado & Persian feta with fresh chilli, mint & blistered cherry tomatoes on seeded toast

Maybe I ordered badly, maybe the chef had been at the tennis, maybe I was in the wrong frame of mind, but unfortunately it was an ‘It’s not’ from me.

Price – 7

Quality of food – 5

Atmosphere – 5

ISIT Cafe on Urbanspoon

St Ali – A turning point in a man’s life

There comes an important time in any man’s life when your attitude to a relationship St Ali roasted coffeechanges; this isn’t the first kiss, the introduction to their parents or even your wedding day. It’s actually the first day you share your food with your partner. As a young, naive boy I was always worried about someone stealing my share of food, I lived my life in the shadow of Joey Tribbiani’s ‘Joey doesn’t share food’ mentality; going out for Tapas was like the war on oil. Until one day there was an epiphany; what if she doesn’t like the dish? What if she gets full before me? What if she orders better than me? This was the day I started sharing food, and all was going well until St Ali.

I have a soft spot for St Ali as it’s one of the first places I ate at when arriving in Melbourne. It’s trendy warehouse feel, booming atmosphere and pioneering coffee (which they roast themselves) add up to a great experience.

In the spirit of sharing I ordered the Koo Coo Ca Choo – Crispy potato hash, mushroom duxelle, Koo Coo Ca Choopoached eggs, aged cheddar, stuffed flat mushrooms & truffle vinaigrette. As you will see this was a master-piece, for a moment I felt like I was in a bad chocolate commercial, mmm-ing and arrr-ing, reminiscent of a bad night in a hotel with paper thin walls in Echuca (different story, another time perhaps). The mushroom duxelle was beautifully rich (probably too rich for a lot of people I must admit) and the eggs were oozing all over my hash, I was on top of the world for half a dish… until it was whipped away and..

Jax’s Corn Fritters, halloumi, kasundi and poached eggs was slapped in front of me. This Corn Frittersis the problem with sharing; you have to share the good times and bad times and roll with your partners orders. This was that time, the very first time. The halloumi was good, the kasundi was delicious, light and fresh but the main event could have caused arguments. The ‘secret recipe’ corn fritters were stodgy, lacked flavour and there were too many for that consistency. After the second dish I was disappointed, I used to be able to eat what I liked in the days of a six pack and muscle definition, I walked out of St Ali feeling and looking like a pregnant Middle Park mother.

All in all, the coffee was incredible but the dishes were poles apart and not particularly cheap when compared with other similar cafe spots;

Price – 5.5

Quality – 7

Atmosphere – 9

St Ali on Urbanspoon

Penny Farthing

IMG_1880Penny Farthing – A tale of two Brunch’s

Penny Farthing, based in Northcote in Melbourne’s Northern Suburbs is a funky little cafe on High Street. Whilst house-sitting and with a bit of time away from work I decided to try out the local eateries! I was so impressed by the food and coffee, I decided to take the missus back the following day for some brekkie… BIG mistake. Penny Farthing went from a big hit on the Friday to a distinct average the following day, a bit like following the Richmond Tigers.

Friday

I arrived, took a spot outside to watch the world go by and ordered a long black and scrambled eggs on sourdough with harissa and a side of balsamic glazed mushrooms. The coffee arrived along with a map and description of it’s origins which I thought was a nice touch, it turned out to be beautiful. IMG_1873Within a few moments the main event arrived which was delicious too, fluffy eggs, a crispy door-wedge of sourdough and beautiful, sweet harissa which really complimented the dish. Not forgetting the balsamic glazed mushrooms which had great flavour, if not slightly dry but all in all, a fantastic breakfast which like a kid wanting show off his new toy I wanted to take the missus.

Saturday

We arrived at Penny Farthing and had been recommended the Corn Fritters with capsicum relish & wood smoked bacon with a poached egg and rocket; now the thing about corn fritters is that they are either arousingly, table lifting deliciousness or a complete lead balloon. After yesterdays confidence boost we both decided to go for them, with a side of marinated feta and the mushrooms, I also went for a fresh orange and the cold drip coffee (pictured above). A bit of a bug-bear of mine is freshly squeezed orange from cafes should be exactly that…freshly squeezed, maybe I’m fussy. Unfortunately our’s came in a bottle and I didn’t really enjoy it, too tart for my precious, princess of a palate! The cold drip coffee on the otherhand was divine, a delicious subtle, rounded coffee taste served cold over ice, a real crowd pleaser.IMG_1884

When the fritters arrived, they looked great, I tackled the egg which was perfectly runny and then it happened again… I got excited, too excited… prematurely…. before the main event… the fritters. The fritters were not fantastic, they were distinctly average unfortunately; heavy, stodgy and didn’t taste of much, what a let down. The saving grace was the capsicum relish which tasted good, the bacon which was real crispy (just how I like it) and the mushrooms which were good as well. I just couldn’t get past the fritters which were sub-standard.

All in all, maybe I picked badly, maybe the kitchen had a bad day, maybe I had hyped it too much. Unfortunately though, overall I was disappointed.

Price – 6

Quality – 6

Atmosphere – 8


Penny Farthing Espresso on Urbanspoon