Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Bank, Yarraville

My last breakfast of 2006 was the Big Breakfast at The Bank, 13 Ballarat Street, Yarraville, Tel +61 3 9362 7222. And it was big. Not perfect, but big, with excellent crispy bacon. I just wish they'd chopped the stringy stems off the spinach. Stems-on is OK for baby spinach. But mature spinach really needs a good trim.

The scrambled eggs, sausages and mushrooms were all pretty good, but the toasted ciabatta seemed a bit stale, and the baked beans (which I had instead of tomato) were fairly bland and not quite soft enough for my taste. We also tried the eggs benedict, and it was fine, although they overlooked our request for hollandaise on the side.

As you may have guessed, The Bank is located in an old bank building, with dark fitout and high ceilings on the inside, and a handful of outside tables in the courtyard. The timber decking and smaller scale give the courtyard a more cosy feel than the main banking chamber.

My biggest gripe was the coffee. I had a cappucino and a latte, both of which were way too hot, and not at all enjoyable. I would have sent them back, but I had no faith that it would get any better second time around, so what's the point?

At least The Bank does all day brunch (where "all day" means "till 3pm"). We tried to get "brunch" at Fidama, and despite being almost completely empty, they turned us away. What kind of idiot rejects paying brunch customers at 2.10pm?

12/20 "nice deck"


Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Fitz, Fitzroy

The Fitz is on the fritz. At least that's my impression after this morning's visit to The Fitz Cafe, 347 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, Tel +61 3 9417 5794. Despite being a stylish and buzzy venue, there were too many cock-ups with the service and food.


First, some positives. The coffee was good. The bacon was done just right. The spinach was soft and tasty. The hollandaise was fine. And, as mentioned above, the venue is great: plenty of outside tables under a nice big tree; and a slick (if slightly grungy) interior with sheer black curtains, oversized wicker lamp-shades; and a well-worn polished concrete floor.

But things went wrong. Too many things.

I ordered the Fitz Breakfast with one substitution: spinach instead of tomato. Not a complicated order. When it arrived, I was presented with the Veggie Breakfast, with chili jam, no hollandaise, and no tomato.

After a moment of confusion, I explained that this wasn't what I ordered. Rather than ask what I did order, the waitress disappeared to "check". She returned to say that this was indeed my order, of a veggie breakfast with spinach, and no tomato.

I said that I ordered the Fitz Breakfast with spinach, not the Veggie Breakfast. She disappeared again to rectify the situation. It only occurred to me later that the Veggie Breakfast already includes spinach, so it would be impossible and illogical to "add" spinach.

Eventually, my Fritz Breakfast arrived, except that there was some unwanted chili jam, and still no hollandaise. I asked for the hollandaise. My waitress disappeared again to fetch a side of hollandaise. Before leaving, she also asked if I want cracked pepper, to which I said "yes". The hollandaise arrived, but the pepper grinder never made an appearance.

I started to eat. The eggs were underpoached, with raw whites spilling out like frog spawn. The mushrooms were wet and leathery, and tasted like crap. I pushed them to one side. The chili jam tasted like molasses.

The final straw was the bill. I was charged full price for a Veggie Breakfast, plus an extra $2 for the Spinach (which is already part of the Veggie Breakfast, even though that's not what I ordered). So, rather than charge me standard price (treating the substitution of equally-priced extras as price-neutral), they figured out a way to charge me extra, so as to arrive at the highest possible price. This approach to billing is a great way to annoy the customer, and it worked a treat today. I complained, the bill was corrected, and I left. I won't be back.

11/20 "on the fritz"


Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

On The Corner Espresso, Prahran

Well I guess it all started the first time I went through the second grade. I caught my reflection in a spoon while I was eating my cereal, and I remember thinking "wow, you're ridiculously good looking, maybe you could do that for a career."

Next time Derek Zoolander comes to Melbourne I feel sure he'll be spotted having an Orange Mocha Frappuccino at On The Corner Espresso, 160 Greville St, Prahran, Tel +61 3 9533 8888. It's the perfect spot to check out all the other ridiculously good-looking people prancing up and down Greville Street. Or, you can stare at your spoon, admire your own really, really good looks, and practise Blue Steel.

If your diet permits, I can highly recommend the corn fritters. Three tasty fritters with plenty of corn and a touch of spice, served with just-crispy bacon, a generous amount of tomato-avocado salsa, a side of chili jam, and topped with fresh rocket.

Other tempting items include vanilla porridge with caramelised apples; "village style" baked beans; a Breaky Wrap filled with omelette, potato, cheese, chorizo and tomato chutney; and ham & eggs served with sweet paprika, sea salt, cracked pepper and toasted honey whole-wheat soldiers.

But what vain, stupid, and incredibly self-centered male model could turn down a BABE... bacon, avocado, poached egg with a touch of soy mayo on a toasted bagel?

16/20 "nice salsa"


Eggs & Bacon $11.40 BB100 +14%

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Don Vincenzo, Fitzroy

If someone wrote a scathing review of Artie Bucco's pasta at Nuovo Vesuvio, would Tony Soprano care? I'm hoping not. I'm also hoping that, despite the name, there are no mob ties to Don Vincenzo, 301 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Tel +61 3 9419 6204. Otherwise, what I'm about to say might have negative implications for my health and general well-being.

Expressed in simple terms, the Eggs Benedict at Don Vincenzo was crap. The menu said "soft poached eggs" but mine were rock hard. The menu said "shaved ham" but mine was thin-sliced and fried. The menu tempted me with a side of "sauteed spinach" but mine was pretty much raw with a light coating of warm oil. It was all presented in a flashy way, with a muffin-ham-muffin-ham-muffin-ham-egg stack, but that only made it difficult to eat. Not alot better than a Bacon & Egg McMuffin, really.

Other options include four types of omelette, "oven baked" pancakes and Chef's toasted muesli, plus all the usual toast, eggs and extras (including sauteed sweet corn and avocado).

Service was OK, and they were apologetic when I bitched about the crappy food. My compensation was a free coffee, which was funny, since the coffee was about the only thing worth paying for.

9/20 "go to Mario's next door"


Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Otis, Albert Park

On a nice day, you could do worse than to grab an outside table at Otis, 123-125 Bridport St, Albert Park. You can bring the dog. The service is very good. And it's not all cramped and crowded like the rest of Bridport Street.

I had a very pretty serve of corn fritters with tomato salsa and avocado, to which I added a side of crispy bacon. The flavours were great, but the fritter was quite heavy and greasy.

Her Fussiness had poached eggs with salmon and spinach and was happy enough but for one rather solid egg and some unbuttered toast. The house-cured salmon was very good. Much fresher and firmer than average.

Otis also serves gluten free muesli, and a rather strange-sounding "brunch plate" with scrambled eggs, bacon, salmon, toasts, cheese, fruit, dips and herb salad.

16/20 "house cured salmon"


Eggs & Bacon $11.50 BB100 +15%

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Vic Harbour, Melbourne Docklands

One thing that always amazes me is poor service in a deserted venue. You'd think that quiet times would be an opportunity to impress what few customers you have with swift, attentive, one-on-one service. Not so at Vic Harbour Kitchen and Bar, 70 NewQuay Promenade, Docklands, Tel +61 3 9670 5550. The staff were friendly enough. But most of the time they were nowhere to be seen.

The mediocre service was all the more surprising in light of Docklands' growing reputation as a hot-bed for personal services. It's a mysterious phrase "personal services". Melbourne City Council's own figures suggest that it's the largest industry in Docklands, employing over 2,500 people. Assuming they're not all funeral directors, hair-dressers and dry-cleaners, that leaves you with brothel keepers, escort agents and prostitutes (plus a few other odd bods like astrologists, baby-sitters, tattooists and Turkish bath operators). Hmmm... looks like the oldest profession has taken to Docklands like ducks to water. Perhaps this explains why things are a bit slow around breakfast time?

It's not like the food is bad. I had a Traditional English with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms and tomato, all piled up on a base of toasted Turkish. The eggs were a bit skimpy, but the rest was very good, especially the sausage. They also do corn fritters with streaky bacon, toasted grain and nut cereal, French toast, pancakes, Benedict, Florentine, Mexican style scrambled eggs and more.

The views are nice, and at around $15-17 for some eggs and a coffee, it's much cheaper than a high-end hooker.

13/20 "nice view"


Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Pronto, Melbourne

So light. So airy. Who knew hollandaise could be this fluffy? Two nicely poached eggs smothered in a thick yellow blanket on some equally fluffy toast. They give good Benedict at Pronto, 335 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Tel +61 3 9629 5453. Good Lavazza coffee too.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Corner Store Cafe, North Fitzroy

Part diner, part milk bar, part caff. That's the vibe of the Corner Store Cafe, 100 Scotchmer St, North Fitzroy, Tel +61 3 9489 8505. You can buy the morning paper, order yourself a Grinders cappucino, and settle down to a relaxing breakfast at one of several retro tables. The food's not quite as good as Dench or Green Grocer, but it's got a homely X factor that draws you in. Except on Sundays, when they're closed.

corner store cafe

I was very happy with my serve of poached free range eggs with sides of bacon and beans. The home made beans were particularly good, with a thick tomato sauce and nice soft beans of various shapes and sizes. The weak link was the toast, which was some kind of thin-sliced, processed variety. With Dench Bakers just across the road, I can only assume the decision to serve low-grade toast is driven by economics. But if cutting costs is so important, why not serve caged eggs and beans from a can?

The Corner Store menu is broad, but no frills. You can get eggs, bacon and extras, but nothing fancy like Benedict or Florentine. They also do "Lite" versions of the "Vegetarian Special" (which includes mushrooms, tomato and spinach) and the "Meatie Special" (the vegie extrs plus bacon and sausages). Lite seems to mean 1 egg and 1 toast, rather than 2. They also do omelettes, French toast, pancakes and porridge (the hot stuff), and muesli or fruit salad (the cold stuff).

For dog owners, smokers and lovers of fresh air, there's a couple of street-side tables. But with Melbourne cloaked in a brown haze of bushfire smoke, and the temperature heading for the high 30s (100+ in old-speak), this was not a day for fresh air.

15/20 "retro"


Eggs & Bacon $9.00 BB100 -10%

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Walter's Wine Bar, Southbank

Southgate was getting dangerously close to breakfast bankruptcy. But along came Walter's and saved its bacon. Now open for breakfast, brunch and other less important meals, Walter's Wine Bar, Upper Level, Southgate, Tel +61 3 9690 9211, is well worth a visit. Grab a spot on the balcony, order some eggs, and soak up the city view.


The Walter's Big Breakfast was very impressive. A nice crunchy base of sourdough toast, topped with a generous serve of sauteed spinach, two poached eggs and a slurp of fresh hollandaise. Throw a few rashers of tasty grilled bacon, a couple of beef sausages, and some mushrooms on the side and you have a breakfast of champions.

The whole place is impressive, really. Great, friendly service. Excellent Lavazza coffee. Stylish venue. And, if you're in the mood, a Bloody Mary, a Mimosa or a glass of Pol Roger.

17/20 "Mimosa?"


Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Poached, Brunswick

As the Labor caucus tries to choose between Harry Potter and Blow-hard Beazley, this morning I faced a difficult choice of my own... where to go and what to have for breakfast? Not crumpets, that much was easy. Not after I read that "Rudd is the thinking woman's crumpet". No, I was in the mood for the old favorite: "Eggs benedict please, with a side of grilled potatoes." And what better place to order poached eggs than a cafe called "Poached", 169 Lygon Street, East Brunswick, Tel +61 3 9387 2396.


It really should come as no surprise to anyone that Kev's taken his Field Marshal's baton out of his backback and given it a good hard polish. Beazley may be a nice guy (Mark Latham would beg to differ), but he really is a total wind-bag and most people don't have a clue what he's mumbling about. Even when he's trying to say "I can keep it simple", he says things like "I have learnt over the course of the past 18 months that simplicity is one of the things I need to carry around with me as a talisman..." Huh? A talis-what? Need I say more?

Speaking of simplicity, I am coming to the view that "special" ingredients are best left out of breakfast classics like eggs benedict. Simple twists can work. But adding slow roasted tomatoes is not what I'd call a simple twist. It was not an improvement on the classic benedict. Otherwise, it was a reasonable effort, with eggs soft-poached, thin slices of grilled gypsy ham, acceptable hollandaise (albeit a tad bland and lacking in lemon) and some grilled slices of spud.

I get the impression that Ange was very happy with the Eggs Florentine at Poached. I can also report that the plate of French toast delivered to the table next to mine looked huge (a big heap with pears, marscapone, topped with crispy bacon, and swimming in maple syrup). Otherwise you can get all the usual stuff like croissants, bircher muesli, eggs and extras (including zucchini, which is rare).

The Lavazza coffee was good, but not great, and the service was swift. As a venue, Poached has a very average, standard, mainstream, cafe vibe, which is not really what you expect to find just a few doors down from Small Block and Sugardough. But it was a good mainstream vibe, if that makes any sense. And excellent value. My eggs benny with two coffees was just over $15.

13/20 "eggs with zucchini"


Labels: , , , ,