Sunday, January 08, 2006

Las Chicas, Balaclava

The Las Chicas crowd - 203 Carlisle Street, Balaclava, Tel +61 3 9531 3699 - has turned designer-scruff into high performance art. Do I wear the beaten-up Birkenstocks with my three-quarter cut-off combat pants? Or maybe the cammo thongs show off a bit more of the Portsea tan? Nah... can't mix combat and cammo... better stick with the sandals. And my white Fred Perry polo. Is that gonna clash with your outfit, babe? You're wearing the black Sass n Bide slouch shorts, yeah?

But don't let the cool kids scare you off. This is breakfast paradise. So many good options your head will spin. And we're talking some serious Linda Blair action.

I'll start with what we had. My Baked Bean Brekky came with arguably the best bread I've ever had: two thick slices of warm, soft, pumpkin and polenta bread, topped with a poached egg. On the side was a tasty serve of the house baked beans, and a generous pile of spinach sauteed in butter. Delicious.

We also tried the BBB, aka Bikini Blowout Benedict. A creative Benedict mutation, it was served on bagel toast (which we switched for sourdough multi-grain) with a layer of avocado and crispy bacon. Very good poached eggs and a thick blanket of hollandaise made this another excellent combo.

As for the rest, I don't know where to begin. Here's just a sample: French toast or pancakes with fresh banana, strawberries, pistachio ricotta and maple syrup; brekky bruschetta of scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, spinach and pesto sprinkled with pine nuts; roasted field mushrooms topped with a fresh rocket, goats cheese and roasted tomato salad, drizzled with an olive tapenade and lemon dressing; egg & bacon sandwich with hollandaise and rocket on toasted pide. And on and on it goes.

Not only is the food excellent (and cheap), but the venue is buzzing off the charts. A long skinny layout, the place has a tight combination of small-medium tables snaking past the coffee bar and kitchen, and a dog-friendly courtyard out the back. Skylights running the length of the building create a light, upbeat feel. Good tunes on the CD player too.

18/20 "mmm... pumpkin and polenta bread"


Eggs & Bacon $10.50 BB100 +5%

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Anonymous Patrick said...

Nice place, but dont know about the 45 minute wait for a table and another 45 minute wait for food. Maybe it was a one off, but it put me off. There also appeared to be a priority system for people that wanted a table. ie you did not necessarily get a table in the order you queued in.

However, their Breakfast Burrito was excellent.

27/5/06 08:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i used to go to chicas a lot but i don't anymore. i think their food's quality gone down comparison to the time they opened. and it's just too busy now and staff there are not attentive like used be neither. i much prefer batch now, although this place is heaps busier than before, too. oh well, i guess balaclava is just getting trendier or somethin'

8/9/06 20:34  
Blogger twistedbrick said...

I liked the baked bean brekkie, but the scrambled eggs I tried the were very bland. The basil pesto accompanying the eggs was too strong for me. The pancakes with orange marscapone and walnut and date toast were perhaps too rich.

The food is not worth the half hour wait or the trip to the other side of the river for the northsiders.

4/1/07 12:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well my first visit for breakky wasn't the best in the world, the experience was similar to Patrick, with the long wait. The vegetarian omelette was swimming in oil, I had to blot it with my serviette and it was really salty. Luckily they saved themselves this morning as wasn't too busy and the friendly waiter got me to a table straight away and the poached eggs & multigrain sourdough was perfect along with a perfect latte complete with a love heart on top! It hit the spot and made my morning!

8/5/07 11:44  
Anonymous Mark said...

My girlfrield and I renamed this place 'Las Shithouse' after our recent (and last) experience there. I hadn't been back since they extended the dining room into a second shop. I'd suggest that's part of the reason why the kitchen, which seemingly hasn't increased in size to accomodate the additional dining space, is so bloody slow. 45 minutes for a couple of eggs on toast is laughable. I don't really want to sit around at breakfast any longer than I have to, especially BEFORE my meal. I just woke up and I'm hungry man! On the menu they give you some bullshit like "Please be patient as all of our meals are made from scratch". I should f'ing well hope so! If I wanted the precooked crap I'd have driven through Maccas. What else...oh yes, the missus' poached eggs were overcooked when they finally did arrive (which is more than I can say for her coffee which didn't) and if our waitress was any more obnoxious I would have stabbed her. And that was only its good points...try Milktoast up the road...not as trendy, but unpretentious and the best coffee on Carlisle Street (yes, even better than yours Mr. Batch)

18/5/07 12:02  
Anonymous Kim said...

Must agree.. The service has gone down dramatically, and thats saying something, as it has never been that good in the first place.
Forgeting orders, drinks and not offering condiments such as parmasan, pepper, milk for breakfast etc.

Be prepared to wait for everything.. once your oder has been taken they will forget you exist!

The food has gone down hill in the past 5 months also.

I think it would be unfair for them to keep this rating.. maybe revisit for a revision on their overall experience.

8/8/07 15:08  
Blogger Jamie Wodetzki said...

Well I don't mean to dispute the bad experience that Mark and Kim moan about, but I went today and found the place to be fully deserving of the current score, except perhaps in relation to the coffee, which was a bit cold first time round (but perfect the second). It is at least a 17.

I did have breakfast at 4pm, when things are clearly quieter than in the morning rush. The staff were quick, friendly and attentive. Maybe if you didn't eat breakfast at the crack of dawn (ie, before noon), you would see Las Chicas in a new light?

I had eggs benny today, with a side of wilted spinach, and it was spot-on. So, IMHO, the food is still up to snuff.

11/8/07 17:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went a couple of months ago on a recommendation. The beans were dry the toast cool and eggs just ok. The staff kept turning up the aircon when most of the customers were freezing & kept requesting to turn it down. We had to wait about 45 mins for food which eventually came out one plate at a time for each of us with 5 mins wait in between!(there were six of us) Won't be going back.

17/8/07 13:05  
Blogger Louisa said...

We went for breakfast just the other week on a Friday, and it was busy but plenty of free tables, our orders were taken promptly and we didn't have any complaints with the food or drinks. I wonder whether the weekend experience is very different to the ours.

28/9/07 01:11  
Anonymous Mark said...

Yeah, that's what a friend of mine said in defence of the place when I moaned about my experience to him. "Oh no, you can't go on the weekend!" Whatever.

23/10/07 16:17  
Blogger Ra said...

Agreed. If you head over there on saturday or sunday, beware the wait but generally during the week, the service isnt too bad. And besides, the food is definitely worth the wait. Best mushrooms to be found anywhere.

7/4/08 15:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Went there this morning and had the best Baked Bean Brekkie EVER and the fact that they do Dandelion Latte's blows my mind* They have done a new menu that lays it on the line ie. these are speedy brekkie options and these are slower ones and saying that they cannot promise to accomodate variations to the menu at extremely busy times. Think it is like every breakfast place on a Sunday, if you arrive after 10am then you will most probably have to wait a little. LOVE the speedy professional wait staff here - if you want to experience waiting for your breakfast a LOOOOOONNNGGGG time then go to Amici, ACK!

8/6/08 21:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol, Amici's is terrible.
But Las Chicas is great.
Fair enough you have to be an early bird to grab a decent table, com'on guys, good for them for being busy!
I go quite often, mainly during the week and the food is great, and the service is great.
My fav is the mushrooms and avo on tst.
Also the fruit plate is amazing and great value.

2/11/08 11:44  
OpenID chindogucci said...

Yeah there can be a wait on weekend mornings, but that is because everybody else loves this place too! It's simple: get there early or wait in line. Grab a coffee from Wall across the road while you're waiting if you like, and get your saliva glands warmed up for some Las Chicas pancakes.

4/12/08 14:12  
Blogger Alice said...

Las Chica's is a favorite of ours. We know there's going to be a wait, so we don't let it bother us. It will ALWAYS be busy and slower on the weekend. If you don't like waiting, in reference to all the comments above, then please do go elsewhere, it leaves more perfect bacon and poached eggs for me. Great coffee, friendly staff, if you don't act angry that you've had to wait (see above, you reep what you sow)and a funky vibe. I'll try iother places, but I'll always be back for a bikini blowout or big mama's breakfast.

13/5/09 09:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this place and for a place THAT busy I find the service is pretty good... sure sometimes you have to wait for a table etc... but they are really trying hard to do their job... I've been to so many other places where the place is not as busy but the service is way worse... so I'm not too fussy....

16/8/09 08:30  
Anonymous Retired plate pusher said...

Time for another review, me thinks... Vibe? Check. Competent FOH staff? Check. Decent coffee? Check. Serving sizes? Check and check (that is for the half/full size option - perfect!)... But dear me, what they call "scrambled eggs" was nothing more than a solid, oily, lump for yellow wanna-be-omelette lump.

Such a shame so few chefs in Melbourne can scramble an egg. My chef partner & I tried Las Chicas on a recommendation, but will be back at our regular haunt Batch Espresso from now on... Great eggs any way, and the avocado fetta mash with fresh herbs is addictive...

5/11/09 18:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

best breakfast in melbourne. So sad not to live near enough to go anymore. I dream of the BBB.

7/11/10 06:04  

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