Saturday, July 02, 2005

Mrs Jones, Carlton

Who would have thought that breakfast could arouse such strong opinions as were exchanged in this morning's post-mortem on Mrs Jones, 312 Drummond Street, Carlton, Tel +61 3 9347 3312. The issue? Do you get credit for creativity if you fall down in execution? There's no doubt that this is one of the more creative brunch menus in town. But you can't afford to stuff up the basics.

I ordered the coddled eggs with wilted spinach, Moroccan spiced tomato sauce and yoghurt. Sprinkled with spiced sesame seeds, and served with toasted Turkish bread, it made a good first impression. The flavours worked well, too. But half-way through I was faced with a small resevoir of raw egg white, and it really spoiled an otherwise impressive dish.

The other half went with the scrambled eggs on sourdough toast, served with herbed mushrooms, bacon and avocado. The best part of the dish was the bacon, with several tasty rashers rolled up and threaded onto a wooden skewer. The worst part of the dish was the eggs, which were more like an overcooked omlette than scambles. Not quite bad enough to send back (not a view universally shared, by the way) but not what you'd expect from a place that seems to take pride in its food.

Despite these disappointments, there are plenty of interesting alternatives on the menu. Maybe we chose badly. The buttermilk pancakes with banana and butterscoth sauce looked excellent, as did the cinnamon dusted hot ricotta doughnuts with chocolate dipping sauce. They also had some simple things, like sourdough crumpets with clover honey, and a smoked salmon and cream cheese croque monsieur.

The venue itself is very slick, if a little noisy (lots of hard surfaces), and the staff were pretty good. They also do good grinders coffee and quaint pots of tea. At roughly 20 bucks a head it's not cheap, but I wouldn't call it expensive either.

In short, Mrs Jones would be a good place for a breakfast date with someone you're trying to impress, provided that they aren't fussy about their eggs, of course. Who wouldn't be impressed by a place that serves Lillet spritzers for brunch. Aperol is, like, soooo last year.

14/20 "raw creativity"