Sunday, February 13, 2005

Cafe Fidama, Yarraville

The 2005 Age Good Food Guide reckons you should put Cafe Fidama, 34 Ballarat Street, Yarraville, Tel +61 3 9687 0133, "firmly on the repeat-visit list." I beg to differ. It's not bad. But I won't be trekking over to Yarraville for an encore performance.

I have to admit, I went into Fidama with high expectations. The GF Guide dedicates one whole page (of about 300) to noteworthy breakfasts, and this was one of only eight venues to crack a mention. So, if it sounds like I'm picking nits, bear in mind that I was expecting a top 8 performance. Blame Sally Lewis.

Unfortunately, I have to kick off with some rather harsh comments on the eggs. I ordered scrambled. Not semi-scrambled or slightly-mutilated, but scrambled. I don't want huge chunks of yoke staring up at me. So I wouldn't come here for the scrambles. With poached eggs, you're on safer ground, but don't forget to pack your floaties. Break the seal on the eggs and say goodbye to your toast, as a mini-tsunami crashes across the plate. Maybe we were unlucky with the poached egg water-bombs, but the not-quite-scrambled eggs seemed that way by design (cross-checked with the table next door). Who knows, maybe the locals like 'em like that?

On a brighter note, Fidama served up some good extras, including sauteed mushrooms, well-grilled polenta, a huge pile of bacon and golden hash browns (they looked like the pre-packaged variety, but the chef had thawed and fried them with skill). There were some interesting items like 'salsa eggs', a few different omelettes, and Atkins-friendly steamed asparagas with poached egg and hollandaise. Throw in cheese kransky, bratwurst, chorizo and grilled ham, and the meat-lovers won't be disappointed. Unless, of course, they arrive late. By the time we sat down (about 2 pm), most of the snags had run out the door.

Which brings me to the service. Front of house, the staff were friendly and efficient. Out the back, however, the chef was spitting the dummy. It was like shuttle diplomacy as the waitress made repeat visits between us and the kitchen in a frustrating quest to find out exactly what was still on the menu. Round 1... the big breakfast is off, because the "meaty things" (specifcially, the bratwurst and kransky) ran out. Round 2... can I have it without the sausage? Round 3... I said it was off, just tell them to order from the list of extras, and I'll tell you if we've got it. Round 4... I already said, I want what was in the big breakfast, just drop the sausage. Is there anything other than sausage that's off? Round 5... actually, no, the only thing missing is the sausage... we still have a couple of serves of pesto tomato. Round 6... so my original order from round 2 was fine? Great... thanks. I'll have that.

Fidama is a slick little venue, with banquettes, bentwood chairs, dark timber and a good general feel. The crowd was a mix of over 30s, tourists and locals, most of whom seemed to be enjoying their visit. At about $35 for two, it wasn't bad value.

Don't get me wrong. This is a good breakfast venue. But based on our experience, I can't see it cracking the top 10.

The Grinders coffee, by the way, was excellent. Good T2 tea too.

11/20 "semi-scrambled eggs"