Saturday, November 26, 2005

Galleon Cafe, St Kilda

If there's one brekky spot that's old school St Kilda, it's the St Kilda Galleon Cafe, 9 Carlisle Street, Tel +61 3 9534 8934. It's been there a long time. It's sufficiently "Off Ackland" to prevent tourists stumbling in by mistake. It's decked out in antique laminex. And it's veggo-friendly. So I gave the pig a day off, and tried my luck with the sweet-potato, basil and fetta hash browns. Not bad at all.

Which got me thinking. There's something quite wrong with the term "tree-hugging veggo". I mean, if you're a tree-hugger, and therefore a plant-lover, how is it that you can rip an innocent bunch of spinach from the ground, starve the poor fellas till they die, or worse, slice them up and boil them alive. It's barbaric. A true tree-hugger really ought to stick with the stuff that falls off the plant through natural causes. An apple lying on the ground, for example. Or some peas that fell from their pod.

Speaking of veggos, most people already know that Moby and Gwynneth are plant-murderers. You may even know that Einstein and da Vinci were too. But guess who else has gone veggo? Meatloaf. It's true. I read it on the Internet. Coming soon to a record store near you... "Nutloaf's Greatest Hits".

Anyway, back to my hash browns, which were served with spinach (sauteed alive), an excellent poached egg, and a splodge of house-made relish. The presentation was excellent, and the flavours worked well. But (for me) the hash browns were a little disappointing. It's not that I didn't enjoy them (I did). It's just that, on the inside, the grated strands of sweet potato were still a little crunchy, and not all soft and mushy (my personal preference).

If hash browns aren't your thing, don't worry. Since the 189 Espresso crew took over at the Galleon, the menu is oozing with excellent options for veggos and meat-lovers alike. There's vegan beans or Jonathan's snags. Scrambled tofu or meatballs on toast. Banana bread or Benedict. The list goes on. One of the best menu's I can remember, and I've seen a few in the last 12 months.

About my only complaint is speed. When the place is full, service is slow. But good things are worth waiting for.

17/20 "Moby friendly"


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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Blue Tongue, Elwood

I am coming to the view that Elwood is something of a breakfast heavy hitter. This morning we did Blue Tongue, 62-64 Ormond Road, Tel +61 3 9531 3011, and I tried out an old favorite... Eggs Benedict. To my great relief, the muffins were well toasted, and the hollandaise was superb. Very impressive.

Which is not to say that it was perfect. The eggs were a tad wet and overdone, and the hash brown was nothing to rave about. But the hollandaise, ham and muffins were of such a high standard, that a few minor poaching flaws didn't get in the way of an excellent benedict experience.

Another impressive dish was the baked beans, which came in its own baking dish, topped with melted cheese and grilled chorizo. Very good according to GB. I was almost tempted to try the kransky on cheese and onion polenta bread, with green tomato chutney. Maybe next time.

When a nearby diner starting tucking into his "French style Turkish bread" with grilled banana, bacon and maple syrup, it got me thinking about sweet vs savoury breakfast-orientation. Normally, you swing one way or the other. You go for the sweet stuff (fruit, porridge, muesli, hotcakes), or you stick to the savoury stuff (eggs, bacon, beans, bangers). But French toast (savoury), with grilled banana (sweet), bacon (savoury) and maple syrup (sweet)? Sounds like the breakfast equivalent of a bi-sexual orgy. I like it both ways. At the same time.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Apart from great food, Blue Tongue also serves up very good Grinders coffee in a stylish and relaxing indoor/outdoor setting. If it's a nice sunny day, the street-side tables with padded seats are hard to beat.

17/20 "I like it both ways"


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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Michel Roux on Eggs

He's had 3 Michelin stars for 21 years. He's a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur. And now he's written a book to bestow his most faithful kitchen companion, the egg, with the honour it deserves. From the simple (ham and eggs) to the exotic (mollet bantam eggs on crabmeat and celeriac julienne), Eggs is a must read for egg-lovers and foodies alike. And I have a new hero.

Daley at Chimmy's, South Melbourne

I'm a sucker for a good sausage. So this morning I was easily lured to Daley at Chimmy's, 276-278 Park Street, South Melbourne, Tel +61 3 9696 7418. They make their own bunny bangers... What more can I say?

Admittedly, it's not the sort of place you'd take the book-club to discuss the finer points of Watership Down. But the meat-lovers will be very impressed. Tasty little rabbit snags, grilled smoked bacon, and black pudding. The breakfast meats were clearly a cut above average. I just wish they'd gone the extra yard with the condiments. Plain old tomato sauce didn't quite cut the mustard, so to speak. A spicy home-made plum sauce would, IMHO, make a real difference.

The rest of the food is also pretty good. My scrambles were fine (but not great), and the poached eggs were excellent. Even better, the hollandaise was spot on. Nice sauteed spinach too.

If I was to put a label on Daley's, I think it would be gastro-brunch. You know, the brunch equivalent of gastro-pub food. Fish lovers might be tempted by the smoked haddock, poached egg and seeded mustard beurre blanc. Sugar lovers can go for the muesli pancake with strawberry compote and buffalo labna. Or keep it simple and try the mature cheddar on toast with balsamic glaze. Fancy.

Service was somewhere between OK and good, and the coffee was excellent. It's also pretty well priced, unless you stack on the extras. Our brekky for two came in just under $35.

16/20 "bunny bangers"

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Loco, Middle Park

Today we hit the leafy streets of Middle Park and grabbed some eggs at Loco, 32A Armstrong Street, Tel +61 3 9696 1951. It's a small and stylish little venue, but when you factor in footpath seating, the place nearly triples in size. Not a bad local for a lazy weekend brunch (weather permitting). My scrambles were very good.