Eat here: Little Flock, Melbourne (café/brunch)

Little Flock
81 High St, Northcote
https://facebook.com/littleflocknorthcote/

I hate to say it, especially as a Melbourne northern suburbian, because my area is basically ground zero for hipster cafés, but I’m a bit over the Melbourne brunch scene at the moment.

I’m not over going out for brunch, I still do that every weekend, I’m just over the pretentious menus of a lot of new places. I’m over waiting in line for an hour to get a $28 plate of organic vegan eggs sprinkled with unicorn tears. I’m over the smug attitudes of staff talking about their coffee sourced from a Venezuelan cave harvested by elves. So I haven’t been trying many new places out lately.

But a few weeks ago, I drove past Little Flock, and it looked like a cute little place, so I investigated. Turns out it IS a cute little place, run by Michael Coates & Miroslawa Kotowska, who named it after their chooks. They serve free-range eggs, traditionally smoked bacon, and homemade rugbrød (Danish rye sourdough). And the interior is gorgeous – pale blue walls, hanging greenery, simple wooden tables and chairs, perfect.

Husband went with the avocado, smoked bacon, goats cheese, and nuts & seeds on sourdough toast. Generous amount of bacon, great sourdough, and the bacon was seriously unreal.

I went with the cold smoked ocean trout with rugbrød (both made in house by Michael), with crème fraîche, capers, dill and lemon salt. Honestly, it was probably a bit overpriced at $19 for such a small serve, but it was absolutely delicious! Michael said it was basically them on a plate, and the pride he takes in the dish is well founded.

Husband liked his cappuccino so much he had a second one to go with the almond croissant we wolfed down after breakfast (freshly made and sourced from Brasserie Bread). And I couldn’t have been happier to find out that instead of my $5 getting me a small teapot that would make just one cup of tea, I got a huge cast iron teapot that kept me going all morning.

With a much bigger and well known café a few doors down, it was really lovely to have the option to eat such good food in a smaller venue where the owners were floating around and actually chatting to the customers. Already looking forward to my next visit so I can try some eggs!

Little Flock Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Gontran Cherrier, Melbourne (pastry)

Gontran Cherrier
140-144 Smith St, Collingwood
http://www.gontrancherrier.com.au/

Around 7 months ago, renowned French patisserie king Gontran Cherrier brought his buttery operation to Melbourne. The bloggers and foodies flocked in droves; I personally couldn’t justify waiting in a line for half an hour to get an over-priced croissant. I finally visited for the first time a few weeks ago, and upon tucking into a golden delicious almond croissant, I finally understood what the fuss was about.

Eager to try more of the beauties in the display window, we made our way back last weekend for breaky. Rolling in for a late breakfast (for us) just before 10am on a Sunday morning, it was pleasantly quiet, with only a few tables occupied – muuuuuch better than the initial rush when they opened!

We ordered a few bits and pieces; husband chose the a quiche Lorraine studded with bacon and Gruyère cheese; I didn’t take a photos of it, but for $8.00, it was a little on the small side. Which was a shame because it was one of the nicest quiches either of us have ever tasted! We also went with a Croque Monsieur – again, not the cheapest toastie at $12.00, but, again, probably the best toasted ham and cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. Buttery and golden, crispy crusts and super soft bread, and that ham and cheese were magic.

I also spied a beautiful long piece of bread spread with Lescure butter and covered in some very pretty, colourful tomatoes. I added that to the order on a whim, not really expecting the husband to be too into it, but turned out he loved it, too. There’s something incredible about a simple bread, butter and tomato dish, when they’re all of the freshest and highest quality.

Those three dishes and a coffee for the husband set us back around $40 – not bad for a Melbourne breakfast, ridiculously over-priced for most other cities, but no regrets here; good food is worth paying more for, in our opinion.

 

We also couldn’t go past a sweet, and took a chocolate croissant home with us to tuck into with some tea and coffee. Nowhere near enough chocolate, but my goodness that pastry is something else. We’ve had the almond croissants there, too (we have a tendency to order an almond croissant whenever possible), and that was pretty spectacular.

We were a little sad that there weren’t any almond croissants left by the time we were leaving… the chocolate one wasn’t a bad back up option, though. Now that the crowds have died down, it’s probably time to head back a bit more often – it’s the perfect spot for a Sunday morning breakfast or coffee session; maybe not every weekend, but definitely those weekend you feel like being a little bit fancy and treating yourself 🙂


Gontran Cherrier Boulangerie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Sookie La La, Melbourne V.2 (diner)

Sookie La La
593 High St, Northcote
http://www.sookielaladiner.com.au/

It’s hard to believe it was September 2015 when I first visited and blogged about this place… since then, it’s become our favourite Sunday breakfast nook and feels like a second home 🙂

Almost 18 months since that first visit, nothing about Sookie La La is slipping. The service is wonderful, prompt, and most importantly, welcoming and friendly. The booths are perfect – your own private little breakfast nooks. And the standard of the food is still top notch – it’s simple, homely, comforting food that makes you feel like you’re in a favourite aunt’s home.

Husband’s new favourite thing in the world is their fried chicken on waffles. You can probably see why. But tasting it is another story – the waffles are soft and fluffy, and the chicken is perfectly white and tender on the inside, with the perfect crunch on the outside. We’ve eaten a bit of fried chicken, but Sookie La La’s is both of our favourite.

I went with the reuben sandwich, the towering king of bread and corned beef and sauerkraut and pickles and cheese and Russian dressing. This is a proper sandwich. For breakfast or lunch, it’s just magic.

After a long week, when we roll up to their glass front door on a Sunday morning and slide into one of the beautiful wooden booths, it really feels like home. We both seem to sigh in relief as we sit down to a hot pot of strong tea for me and a chocolatey coffee for the husband, always brought over by the ever-smiling lady of the house, and we know that no matter what we order, it’s going to be delicious. We’ve spent many hours planning our #👫WorldTour there. Talking about our weeks at work. Mulling over problems that need solving. Discussing our plans for the future and remembering all of the good and bad from the past. We eventually look out at the street through the shuttered windows with the Sunday morning light streaming in, and reluctantly slide out of our booth to get on with the day. Always knowing we’ll be back soon 🙂

Sookie La La Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Jethro Canteen, Melbourne (café/brunch)

Jethro Canteen
385 – 389 Burnley St, Richmond
https://www.instagram.com/jethrocanteen/
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Sunday morning breakfast dates are my favourites. And living in Melbourne means there is always a new spot to check out; yesterday, it was Jethro Canteen in Richmond. It’s still relatively new, but is already pretty popular with the locals given the amount of people streaming in and out for coffees.

The space was beautiful;  yes, it was a little bit Melbourne-hipster-cafe-by-numbers, but that exposed brick + bright tile and tea on shelves + bakery style pastry display had me from the get go. Big windows meant we were drenched in summer sun, and it instantly felt like the perfect place to bunk down with a pot of tea and a good book for the morning. Or coffee – husband said it was fantastic.

Unfortunately, the people didn’t feel quite as warm and comfortable as the physical space to start off with. The staff all seemed a little preoccupied and sour, until someome stopped by with a cute dog. The little fluffball seemed to put a smile on everyone’s dials and made them all much more pleasant. The menu, like the cafe, was exciting straight away – husband struggled to decide between the chili dog and the Louisiana plate,  but the jalapeño popper won out in the end. Also on the plate was thick cut bacon steak, poached eggs on corn remoulade smothered toast, chili prawns and guacamole. Other than a slightly overdone egg, no complaints, and his plate was mopped clean. The jalapeño popper was definite highlight, though.

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I struggled to pick between the waffles with cereal milk pannacotta, the white chocolate & almond crumble porridge or the chia pudding, but the latter won out. Coconut and almond milk soaked chia, topped with elderflower jelly, berries, mango puree, vanilla bean cashew cream and granola. I was really disappointed that the granola was pretty much non-existent, because the tiny bit that was on there was amazing! The chia was perfect, the berries were fresh, and the cashew cream was the perfect surprise addition – thick, creamy,  strong vanilla flavour – loved it.

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Despite a few bumps, we both absolutely loved Jethro – the beautiful space and the creative menu (so nice to see something other than smashed avo toast and chili scrambled eggs!) make it the perfect addition to our brunch scene;  we will be back!

Eat here: Tinker, Melbourne (café/brunch)

Tinker
235 High St, Northcote
http://tinkernorthcote.com.au

Another weekend, another breakfast. I used to say brunch until husband pulled me up and said that when we’re up, dressed, out the door and seated with menus in hand by 8.30am, its not brunch. Touché.

Anyway, I decided to have a little browse to check out the new openings in our area (we have high attendance rates at Sookie La La, but do occasionally like to see wha else is going on), and I remembered passing a new looking place when I went to the Northcote Kris Kringle Night Market last week: Tinker.

Online investigation led me to their Instagram page, which told me that Tinker was another product of the team that gave us Legacy Camberwell and Temperance Society. That’s all well and good, but proving yourself in the Northcote brunch scene is no easy feat. So, off we went to see for ourselves.

If I was unsure when we were parking the car, the welcome at my feet swept away most of my fears. It seemed I was certainly in the right place. We were promptly greeted and seated, and had tea and coffee in no time at all. Tea was hot and strong, husband loved the coffee. Off to a solid start.

Ordering was tough for husband, tossing up between chilli scrambled eggs, smashed peas, and eggs benedict, but the eggs benny clinched the win with the jalapeño rosti instead of plain old toast, and Kaiser bacon over ham. Perfectly poached eggs with molten yolk, golden crisp rosti, and a proper slab of bacon. Winning.

I was an easy decision; jaffa hotcakes with orange curd, vanilla mascarpone and chocolate swirled meringue pieces. Just wow. Two thick, dense hotcakes swimming in an incredibly generous pool of tangy curd, heaps of chocolate meringue pieces, and mascarpone that wasn’t too sweet or too cheesy. That was the sweet breakfast I’ve been craving!

The space itself is very clean and crisp, sparsely decorated, which I thought was a bit odd to start with, but once the food started to appear, these bright, colourful dishes looked evennbetter against the basic interior. I understand now, well done interior decoration team.

This whole being spoilt for choice in the breaky and brunch department is not getting even remotely old yet… welcome to the north, Tinker!

Tinker Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: The Old Milk Bar Cafe, Thornbury (brunch)

The Old Milk Bar Cafe
144 Dundas St, Thornbury

Back in Melbourne and back to weekend brunches! And don’t I feel just a bit silly not having visited this place sooner… We’ve been living a stone’s throw from the Old Milk Bar Cafe for a few years, now, and it’s one of those places that’s been on my radar but I just haven’t gotten around to visiting.

We finally made it to the sweet, little, old milk bar converted into a cafe over the weekend. High Street in Thornbury is getting to be a pretty popular location for cafes, but this one’s tucked off the main drag. If you don’t know about it, you’re not likely to stumble upon it, and that was instantly obvious – staff were greeting a lot of customers by name, which was really lovely to see 🙂

I adored the space itself – little touches like the old THE AGE sign on the wall under the kitchen were the perfect throw back to the old days. While the inside of the cafe isn’t enormous (with seating for around 8 on small tables and one larger communal table that seats another 8 or so), the outside patio seating was pretty spacious. And the menu looked great! Husband’s choice was made quickly; he went with the smashed avo – 2 slices of toast with an absolute mountain of smashed avocado, goats curd, and a panko crumbed egg on top. He gave big points for the amount of avocado and how perfectly oozy the egg yolk was, but was a little sad the panko crumbs didn’t stay crunchy.

My choice was even easier again – lemon lime ricotta hotcakes with blueberries. Yes, please!! These were hands down the lightest, fluffiest, most delicious hot cakes I’ve ever had. No competition. No other was to describe it. Absolutely perfect. Swimming in the most delicious citrus curd, and plenty of juicy blueberries. I was told these were a new addition to the menu, and I hope they stay on the menu – I’ll be back for them again. They were magic.

Vietnam was a good time, but no one does brunch like Melbourne. And when places like this are making food this delicious, it’s good to be home 🙂

The Old Milkbar Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Shifty Chèvre, Melbourne (French/cafe/bar)

Shifty Chèvre
375 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
http://www.shiftychevre.com/#shiftychevre

This is another one of those places we’ve been meaning to get around to for ages; the blessing and curse of being a food lover living in Melbourne is that for every place you tick off your “to eat” list, another 3 pop up. It’s relentless. It’s the best possible problem to have.

Part cheese & wine bar, part brunch spot, they’re all about making you feel right at home. As they say on their website, their place is designed to be an extension of their own kitchen, “a place of warmth, laughter, cheese, good food and a bottle of something with friends.” It’s also a really beautiful place, full of the little touches like the wooden coat stand and random framed pictures.

Given the Sunday morning visit, husband got stuck right into some coffee, and tea was my poison. Both fresh and hot and all sorts of perfect for a Melbourne winter’s morning.

Then, food. Tough decisions had to be made. Husband finally settled on the smokey bacon sandwich ($18.00) – house-smoked thick-cut bacon with melted triple cheese, thyme roasted field mushrooms and tomato relish in sourdough bread with a fried egg on top. Damn good sandwich – that bacon was magic! While the egg on top made it pretty hard to eat like a proper sandwich, everything worked perfectly. Big winner!

My decision was easy: the Shifty Benedict ($18.00) – slow roasted smoked ham hock, poached eggs, multigrain toast, apple cider hollandaise sauce and pork crackling.

Perfectly poached eggs, soft and molten, and smothered in deliciously creamy hollandaise. The ham hock was the highlight, though – piled high under the egg, I couldn’t really tell what I was getting into, but breaking it up with my fork, it was soft and tender and juicy, with the most delicious smokey flavour. Oh, and that pork crackling… WOW…

If that was the brunch menu, I cannot wait to try out the dinner (with wine, obviously). Everything that was promised was delivered – it was a warm, cosy place, easy to feel at home in, and the food was incredible. Another perfect addition to the Melbourne brunch scene 🙂


Shifty Chevre Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato