Sunday, February 25, 2007

Boathouse, Moonee Ponds

I was standing there one day at the kitchen sink in Moonee Ponds. I was wrist deep in grey water, peas and mutton fat floating in it, I was looking out the kitchen window through chipped aluminium venetian blinds at a yard full of broken toys. And I thought, is this the end? Is this it?
Dame Edna Everage, Former Moonee Ponds Housewife

Moonee Ponds has changed a bit since Dame Edna's day. Now your average Moonee Ponds housewife can spend her weekends power-walking along the banks of the Maribyrnong River, Pink pumping through the iPod, followed by breakfast and a skinny latte at the Boathouse, 7 The Boulevard, Moonee Ponds, Tel +61 3 9375 2456. You could say that Pink is the new Purple Rinse.

Green eggs n ham

If you wake up early enough to beat the 11am cut-off, breakfast at the Boathouse is very good. The green eggs and ham is an interesting re-mix of the classic eggs benedict, with a crumpet base instead of muffins, and topped with a tasty pesto hollandaise and plenty of fresh rocket. I would have preferred a bit of crunch to the crumpet (which was quite soft and soggy), and a bit more poaching for the eggs, but the ham and hollandaise were excellent, and the flavour combo worked really well.

An even better combination of flavours came in the form of a ricotta and spinach omelette with Tasmanian smoked salmon (which was also topped with rocket). One of the best omelettes I've ever had, and I'm normally quite ambivalent about anything with salmon in it.

nice deck
Tourists can marvel at the gum trees

Other food options include: bircher muesli with grated pear and hazelnuts; French toast with lemon marscapone and baked Granny Smiths; corn cakes with eggplant relish (very tempting); and a wood-fired breakfast pizza with mushrooms, tomato, fried eggs and rocket. Maybe rocket was going cheap at the market yesterday?

Pippin quite liked the deck

The river-side location is a bonus, with plenty of outside tables (and a nice big deck) for you... and your dogs... and your kids... to enjoy the view. What are you waiting for possums?

16/20 "nice omelette"


Labels: , , , , ,

Dragon Boat Palace, Melbourne

Before he was Lord Mayor of Melbourne and World Mayor of 2006, John So was in the restaurant game. So what better place for Yum Cha than the Mayor's own Dragon Boat Palace, 149 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, +61 3 9639 0888. The food wasn't bad and there wasn't a cockroach in sight.


The food wasn't that flash either. Some of the dumplings were a bit gluggy, and there were some bland and pointless tofu bits that I could have done without (eg, pale yellow blobs that looked like aged mayonnaise). But the pork was a highlight, especially my old favorite, the steamed BBQ pork bun. The perfect way to celebrate the year of the golden pig. Oink.


Labels: , , ,

Friday, February 23, 2007

Pushka, Melbourne

Pretty soon someone will be setting up a cafe in a sewer or an old lift well or a wheelie bin or something. Because the cafe down the alley off the laneway has been done. And one of the best examples is Pushka, Presgrave Place, Melbourne (that's the laneway filled with wheelie bins, milk crates and interesting wall art, out the back of the Capitol Theatre).

pushka eggs

Pushka is ace. The serve cool stuff like coco pops, boiled eggs and soldiers, and "crazy toast" with vegemite and avo. And they do an impressive breakfast bagel called "The King" filled with cheese, prosciutto, avo, fried egg, mayo and something else but I forget what. Nice fresh bagels, which makes all the difference.

The ambience is best described as uber-grunge, with room for a handful of people inside, and a scattering of folding chairs, tables and milk crates in the laneway. There's a certain serenity to just sitting there, boxed in by buildings, sipping cappucino and staring up at the sky. It helps that they make an excellent cappucino (Coffee Supreme).

14/20 "crazy toast"


Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Southbeach Cafe, Mt Martha

If you happen to be in Mount Martha around breakfast time then you should definitely try the Eggs Benedict at Southbeach Cafe, 464 The Esplanade, Mt Martha, Tel +61 3 5974 4443. It may not be on the South Beach Diet, but it's a highlight of the Southbeach menu.


I was in need of good hangover food this morning, having consumed way too much Mateus Rose (not to mention vol-au-vents) at a 70's dinner party the night before. Luckily, Southbeach came through with the goods. The benedict was very good (especially the poached eggs and hollandaise), and the big fry-up looked very satisfying too (even if the scrambles weren't especially creamy). Good coffee and fresh juices too.

Speaking of the 70's, it would seem that some 70's habits die hard, with rumours of banned body-building substances popping up in Silvester Stallone's luggage when he arrived in Sydney this weekend. Sly is here to promote Rocky VI, which is apparently all about "a washed-up has-been Balboa running a restaurant and reliving old glories 30 years after his prime." Now there's a restaurant I'd like to visit for breakfast. I bet the raw egg shake would be delicious.

14/20 "seaside benny"


Eggs & Bacon $9.50 BB100 -5%

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Windsor, Melbourne

I used to think it was risky eating breakfast at hotels. Now I think there really should be an eleventh commandment: thou shall not eateth a hotel breakfast. Unless you like eating very average food at very high prices. For proof, look no further than The Windsor, 111 Spring Street, Melbourne, Tel +61 3 9633 6000.

The Eggs Benedict came out looking like a couple of Brighton housewives... too much time under the sun-lamp. All that remained of the "famous" Windsor hollandaise was some molten butter and a crusty skin. What were they thinking? I complained... the waiter disappeared to administer a face-lift... and eventually my eggs reappeared with a fresh layer of the Windsor's finest (which turned out to be OK).

Otherwise, the Benedict was very ordinary: the "country ham" was ungrilled; the muffins were just muffins; and the hash browns were fresh from the deep freeze. At $16 it was (surprisingly) one of the "cheap" options on the menu (only the $12 boiled eggs and soldiers were cheaper).

Speaking of cheap, I spent a good part of the morning fighting the urge to stare at a scantily clad maiden breakfasting at a nearby table... with her... ummm... uncle? boss? The good thing about the Windsor is that the windows are frosted and, at these prices, there's very little chance your wife will drop in for a bite to eat. Very discrete. Even better than the Qantas toilets.

So, if you're looking for somewhere fancy and private, and you're not too fussed about what you eat, this is the place for you. After a few glasses of Bucks Fizz who's gonna remember the food?

12/20 "bucks fizz"


Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Wild Flour, Fitzroy

If you're feeling anti-social, it's probably a bad idea to have breakfast at Wild Flour, 422 George Street, Fitzroy, Tel +61 3 9419 1391. You can sit on this communal table. Or you can sit on that communal table. Or you can sit outside (where they have two small tables for two). If, on the other hand, you're on the pull, Wild Flour is a winner. Let's face it, the communal table is a great place to chat up complete strangers. And since no-one expects to be chatted up over breakfast, you can mount a surprise attack.


The first thing you need is a good opening line:

"Please pass the salt" is no good. You'll get salt but no conversation.

"How do you like your eggs in the morning?" is a tiny bit presumptuous. Don't be surprised if you're shot down in two words... "Unfertilized, thanks."

"Is that on your diet?" is an excellent line if you enjoy being kicked in the nuts or stabbed in the eye with a fork.

"You clearly have good taste, is there anything on the menu you'd recommend?" is perfect. Soften them up with some flattery. Then pretend that you care what they have to say.

Actually, opening lines are much less important to the whole flirting process than you might think. According to this BBC story, you should really be tuning into 5 secret sexual signals that someone is flirting with you:
  1. they spend a large amount of time looking at your mouth
  2. they mirror your moves, as in, you sip your latte, they sip their latte, etc
  3. they flash their eyebrows at you
  4. they point their feet at you, not to be confused with kicking you in the nuts
  5. they blink more than usual, although it doesn't count if you just flicked hollandaise in their eyes
So... what do you say when someone sits next to you on the communal table at Wild Flour, blinking like crazy, staring at your mouth, and says "You clearly have good taste, is there anything on the menu you'd recommend?"

Easy. You recommend the hand made potato cakes topped with poached eggs, spinach and hollandaise sauce. Or the scrambled eggs and bacon on Wildflour toast. Or the white sourdough French toast with grilled figs, whipped cream and maple syrup. Or the omelette with provolone, tomato and basil (although I wish they served it with toast, not bread). Or pretty much anything else on the menu. It all looked good. Very good coffee too (when they remember).

16/20 "communal"

Eggs & Bacon $12.50 BB100 +25%

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookplate, Canberra

You can actually get a half-decent coffee at Bookplate these days, which is quite handy if you're dozing off at the National Library. But what kind of stupid name is Bookplate? And why do library cafes always have such dorky names? They used to call the place Chapters. What next? Biblio's Bistro? Dewey's Diner? The Catalog Cafe? Gutenberg's?


Labels: , , ,

Thursday, February 08, 2007

QF804, Melbourne to Canberra

Aaaah, yes, the joys of travelling on a "full service" airline. You don't pay top dollar for no good reason. In addition to treating you like a terrorist and making you suffer through endless delays "due to the late arrival of the in-bound aircraft" (as if that were someone else's fault), they serve you breakfast: a plastic tub of Lite 'n' Tasty; a mini-muffin; a banana; and coffee. And it's all included in the price of your ticket. Can someone please explain to me why anyone gives a toss that Qantas is being sold off to a bunch of foreigners?


Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Beetroot, Melbourne

I wouldn't recommend eating beetroot for breakfast. But I would recommend eating breakfast at Beetroot, 123 Hardware Street, Melbourne, Tel +61 3 9600 0695. Especially if you like bircher muesli. They do a very thick and fruity bircher topped with berries and a generous sprinkling of whole pistachios. Yum.


Beetroot is all nice and white and modern and sleek, like an iPod. It's more of a Sydney look than a Melbourne look, but luckily it comes with friendly Melbourne service. They also score bonus points for quirky details, like serving a chocolate freckle with your coffee. Or maybe a micro-muffinette (the tiniest I've ever seen).

Despite naming itself after a root vegetable, Beetroot seems best at the sweet stuff: French toast stuffed with berries and topped with marscapone; fresh mango cheek with yoghurt, toasted almonds and granola; or toasted banana and hazelnut bread with golden syrup butter. And that's just a taste.

About the only "opportunity for improvement" is the eggs. The scrambled eggs were nice and creamy (Bills-style), but you should tell people if they're laced with pesto (lucky for me, I quite like a bit of pesto). The problem was the toast. It was a whole slab of Turkish pide, uncut and seemingly untoasted (it was hard to tell). Maybe they lost the breadknife?

16/20 "best bircher"


Eggs & Bacon $7.50 BB100 -25%

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Balzari, Carlton

Unless you were sleeping under a rock (or locked up in Guantanamo Bay) during the TomKat wedding, you would know that Tom vowed to provide Katie with "a pan, a comb, perhaps a cat". So you can imagine my reaction when breakfast arrived this morning at Balzari, 130 Lygon Street, Carlton, Tel +61 3 9639 9383. I'd never seen a more impressive pan than the cast iron monster used to serve my baked eggs. Had I gatecrashed a secret Scientology match-making brunch? Is that person reading a copy of Dianetics? Is that Kate Ceberano sitting in the corner? Why is that interstellar space plane hovering outside?

baked eggs

False alarm. It was just a pan... a very hot pan... filled with baked eggs, softened capsicum, Spanish onion, chorizo, tomato and goats cheese (although the menu said fetta). Without doubt the best baked eggs I've ever had (although it must be said that I don't order baked eggs very often).

If you don't fancy baked eggs, don't worry. You have many good options. The eggs benedict was excellent, with a magnificent, sharp hollandaise. There's a Triple Cheese Toasty with grilled cheddar, fontina and fior di latte mozzarella. Or sweeter options like cinnamon fruit toast; Greek donuts with apricot and chocolate ricotta; and house-made toasted muesli with poached berries.

grapefruit juice

The coffee is great. The service is great. The bentwood chairs are great. Even the freshly squeezed grapefruit juice is great.

In fact, it's hard to think of anything that isn't great about Balzari. It's just a pity they don't do breakfast during the week.

18/20 "best baked eggs"


Eggs & Bacon $11.50 BB100 +15%

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Caffe Panette, South Melbourne

It always seems to be a day of high gossip when I visit Caffe Panette, corner of Coventry and Cecil streets, South Melbourne, +61 3 9690 2803. Last time I was here it was Mark Latham dumping on Kim Beazley. Today it was Kylie dumping Oliver, Kate dumping Pete (again), and Dame Kiri dumping on Whispering Jack (whose on-stage snow-dropping antics weren't to her liking).


Unfortunately, Caffe Panette also decided to use our modified serve of Eggs Benedict as a dumping ground for some mangy off-cuts of smoked salmon. Actually, I'm not allowed to call it Eggs Benedict. According to our waitress, it was officially nothing more than poached eggs and salmon on toast with a side of hollandaise. "Once you take away the ham and the muffins, it's not Eggs Benedict" she told us smugly. She also told us that "sourdough only comes in white" (as in, they don't make it any other way... anywhere). It was the most educational breakfast I've had in ages. Rye sourdough was actually a figment of my imagination.

salmon dump

The lesson seems to be this: don't get too clever at Caffe Panette. They'll punish you for it.

If you stick to the script, however, the food is fine. Order scrambled eggs and bacon, for example, and you'll get a huge mound of very good scrambles and some tasty rashers of well-grilled bacon. The corn fritters with grilled ham and tomato relish were also very good. And Joe's melting muffins (topped with bacon, tomato, avocado and cheese) looked great.

Apart from the sourdough/benedict lesson, the service was good, as was the coffee. Panette is also a good place for people-watching on a nice day. They have a few outside tables from which to observe the market-going crowds.

Eggs & Bacon $10.00 BB100 +0%

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, February 02, 2007

Aussielicious Breakfast

It's the last day to vote for the Breakfast Blog in the 2007 Bloggies awards. And so, in a final, desperate, shameless bid to steal a few votes from one of my fellow nominees, I give you the Aussielicious breakfast. Make no mistake. I am up against stiff competition. I need your support. Vote now.

Labels: , , , , ,

Balgownie Retreat, Yarra Valley

This morning, I had a 3 course breakfast. Not just muesli. Not just eggs. Not just pastries. I had the whole lot: bircher muesli with berries; poached eggs and extras; and a couple of little baby croissants. You won't go hungry at the Balgownie Estate Vineyard Retreat and Spa, Melba Highway, Yarra Glen, Tel +61 3 9730 0700.


The Bircher was very good, with quite a nutty flavour. The poached eggs were close to perfect. The extras were... in a word... small: one little pork snag; a mini hash brown; a few mushrooms; a tiny serve of spinach; and half a roast tomato. The croissants were also small, but good. But with so many courses to get through, small serves are good serves.


The Balgownie Yarra Valley Retreat is an excellent spot for a love-in, which is exactly why we were there. Get away from the office, gaze up at the blue sky, then lock yourself in a room and talk about blue sky, business models, monetisation of eyeballs, and other such crazy talk. If the buzzword bingo gets out of control, make everyone watch We did. It's a cack.

Whether it's worth driving all the way here specifically for breakfast, I'm not so sure. It is good. But it's by no means cheap.

16/20 "bircher and berries"


Labels: , , , , ,