Eat here: Gellibrand Cafe, Melbourne (brunch/cafe)

Gellibrand Cafe
16 Gellibrand Cres, Reservoir
https://web.facebook.com/gellibrandcafe/?fref=nf&_rdr

They’ve been open less than a month, and I managed 2 visits in less than 24 hours – I think I’ve found my new local! Tucked away in a little suburban pocket of Reservoir, it’s not the kind of place that’s going to get crazy foot traffic, so they’re going to have to rely pretty heavily on good word of mouth. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem…

The space itself is beautiful – it’s modern and minimalist looking, but the little touches like the Globo posters behind the counter give it a bit of a throwback to the past and makes it feel more homely.

Our first visit was last Saturday afternoon; they close at 4pm, but we thought we’d try to sneak in a quick coffee/tea date around 3pm on our way out. It’s incredibly how many places get narky when you roll in an hour before closing on a Saturday afternoon, so we braced ourselves for an icy reception. Which was completely unnecessary; we were welcomed with smiles and open arms. Massive points there, because another similar cafe in the area is quite the opposite when you arrive within 90 minutes of closing time.

We asked for tea, coffee and donuts, and while we sat waiting for them, we picked up on seriously happy vibes. The staff were laughing and joking around with each other, they were happy to chat with us instead of ignoring us, and it felt more and more like hanging out at a friend’s or extended family member’ place rather than a shiny new cafe.

Oh, and they stock Doughboys Doughnuts, which makes me very happy, because I love them!! Husband loved his coffee, my tea was hot and brewed just right, and the doughnuts were magic. Salted caramel that was properly salty and sugary, and a gorgeous little key lime number filled with lime curd and a toasted meringue hat. Perfect afternoon tea. Also, as the clock ticked closer to 4pm, more big points for not starting to turn off light and clean around our feet – sorry our timing was crap, guys, but thank you for not making us feel like a total inconvenience!! We decided then and there that we’d return for breakfast the next morning.

And so we did. Sunday morning rolled around, and we turned back up to Gellibrand again. A pretty simple menu with plenty of options to keep everyone happy, husband went straight for the smashed avo with chilli on toast, with a poached egg and bacon on the side. He’s fussy with anything that claims to have chilli in it (his tolerance levels are bordering on unnatural), so he was a pretty happy camper when his avocado came out with actual pieces of chilli mashed through it. He was even happier when he opened his egg up and found it all molten lava yolk (he’s has some sub-par over poached eggs lately). He also commended the amount of bacon.

I was hovering over the porridge, until I caught a glimpse of the specials board. There is something oddly satisfying about being able to order pancakes and ice cream for breakfast, for a few reasons:
1. When you’re a kid and you want pancakes and ice cream for breakfast, your parents laugh at you and give you cereal and fruit instead. As an adult, if you want ice cream for breakfast, you can.
2. When you’re a highly disordered eater, any time you can override the mechanism that tells you to order eggs and vegetables for breakfast and not to finish the toast, that’s a big win.

And it was a bloody good decision – they were proper, home made pancakes, not the perfect round cookie-cutter ones. They were full of blueberries, plenty of salted caramel toasted almonds, more blueberries and top, and that ice cream was the perfect side. I don’t often order pancakes because they’re such a special treat meal to me, and I don’t want to waste a special treat breaky on crappy pancakes, but these were exactly what I felt like – hope they make their way back onto the specials board again!

I’m feeling really fortunate to be living out in the northern suburbs these days; back when I was a kid, Preston and Reservoir weren’t the nicest areas. Now, as the suburbs next in line for gentrification after Northcote and Thornbury, they’re starting to become prime locations. I just hope that the new places opening up keep the friendly neighbourhood attitudes and a few little throwbacks to the past, like Gellibrand have. See you again soon, guys 🙂

 

Gellibrand Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Through my eyes: perfect old buildings of High St, Preston/Northcote

I’ve been sick with the flu for a week and a half. Second case of the flu in a month. It’s kicking my ass. I’ve also not really exercised in this time. This is ridiculous for the girl who usually works out 6 – 7 days a week, including an hour before work every morning at 5.45am. In my defense, I was also a personal trainer for 8 years, a martial artist for around 15 years, and once you get into those habits, its hard to get out of them!

Husband and I usually go for a pretty long walk (around 12km on average) most Sundays to and from a breakfast or brunch spot. Last weekend was the first time in over a week I’d had the energy to actually do anything, and also the first time it hasn’t really been raining in a while, so we decided to head out for a walk and a feed. That review is coming up soon.

In the mean time, I quite enjoyed my time being let lose for a 10km walk in the fresh air, and noticed for the first time that there are some really beautiful old buildings along High Street, spanning the Preston and Northcote suburbs. A lot of them now have shiny new signage for new businesses that have popped up, but there are still hints of the good old days to be seen. More still have that retro, vintage, gorgeously run down and dilapidated look to them. They’re all little bits of history, though. Here are some snaps I took and played around with on the VSCOcam last weekend…

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Eat here: Cedars Bakery, Melbourne (Lebanese)

Cedars Bakery, Preston, Melbourne
http://www.urbanspoon.com

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

To glance at it like this, there’s nothing special or exciting about this place. It looks like any other dodgy little bakery in any other suburb, in any other big city.

In Melbourne’s northern suburbs in particular, it’s really nothing special or exciting – there are Lebanese bakeries everywhere in these neighbourhoods, generally open 7 days, and always with mouth watering smells emanating from them. So what makes this one worth a second look?

 

For starters, not only is this an absolutely killer bakery (we’ll get to that), it’s a pretty decent little Middle Eastern supermarket too! With more varieties of grains, legumes, herbs and spices than you can poke a stick at, as well as everything else from picked vegetables to laundry detergent and pomegranate extract, you become fixated, in a sort of a trance as you wind your way to the counter to order your food via the shelves on the left hand wall. As you pour through the stocked wonders, you start coming up with all sorts of delicious dishes you could make at home, if you could manage to work out exactly what to do with it all! Oh, and as well as a great range, the prices are phenomenal! Pack of 20 falafels for $6.90? WHAT?! Guess who’s having falafels for lunch every day next week?!

But now to the actual eat-in food.

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

A few great things about the food they sell there:

1. They bake it all fresh, in front of you, right behind the counter. While this lovely lady in the photo above is taking your order, the guy in the photo above this one is extracting the little baked packages of goodness from the ovens and piling them up on the side of the counter.

2. They have a pretty small selection of items on the menu. That’s a good thing because you know those few items will be done well, and always fresh.

3. You can also select your items and take them home with you, if you don’t want to grab a seat and eat in.

4. The prices. $3.50 for a cheese pie? Bloody amazing! That is also a deceptively big cheese pie that will fill you up for lunch. Two of them, and you’re satisfied for the rest of the afternoon. And you’ve got change of a $10.00 note. For those of you who don’t live in Melbourne, to get a delicious lunch that will keep you full all afternoon for under $10.00 is a rare thing of beauty.

Husband and I decided to take a long walk to the bakery from our place (about 4.5km walk there and another 4.5km back!), to help diminish our guilt over the high amount of carbs and melted cheese we were about to consume. Yes, we would rather walk 9km than not eat carbs and melted cheese. We went with a cheese pie (each), a haloumi & spinach triangle (to share) and a za’atar pizza (also to share). Here’s why you should order the same when you visit.

The za’atar pizza – the herb and spice concoction, I don’t know what it was (I thought I sensed a hint of thyme), was absolutely unreal!! It was SOOOO flavoursome, and the toasted sesame seeds added the most subtle but perfect crunch. Oh, and it only cost $1.80. Yeah. Order this.

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

The haloumi and spinach triangle – you know how sometimes you can order these cheese-and-spinach things, and they taste kinda weird because of the spinach? Like, it can taste almost watery and flavourless? I don’t know how, but this is the best tasting spinach pastry I’ve ever had. This is phenomenal. The haloumi is just salty and chewy enough, and it’s just all around great.

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

And our personal favourite – the cheese pie. This is as simple as you get. Grated haloumi, wrapped in dough. And it’s indescribably good. Really. Nothing I say here can possibly do it justice. And if you’ve never tried one, you’ll probably shrug it off – “yeah, melted cheese in dough is good, nothing to write home about.” Yeah, this one is. Just try it, you’ll see.

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

But the thing all three of these have in common, the distinguishing factor that makes Cedars stand out from other Lebanese bakeries we’ve been to is simple. It’s the dough. Note that the crimped edges seem soft, yet you can see a brown crust at the bottom of the piece on the right? How it’s browned, but in no place is it burnt? How it looks almost light and fluffy? It is all of that and more. It’s the absolute, hands down, without a doubt best dough I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating, and the thing that’ll keep bringing us back time and time again. It’s got that slight crunch at the bottom of the pastries, but the dough is crazy soft and fluffy. It’s consistent, baked through, but not pock-marked with those burnt, charcoaled blisters that you sometimes get with uneven baking. It draws that fine line between being undercooked and doughy, and overcooked and burnt, and it’s utterly magnificent.

When you’re done with your savouries, there is also a fantastic array of sweet pastries to choose from – the baklava is top notch! They also have a pretty good variety of tea and coffee to choose from, to enjoy with your sweets!

 

One of the things that really struck us while we were devouring our lunch was the incredible diversity of the other diners – there was us, a young couple. A family of mum, dad and two small kids. Two young Asian men catching up over lunch. A Muslim woman picking up a box of food. A middle aged man sipping on tea. A few older women giggling over coffee. It was so welcoming and open, and completely non discriminatory. That basically sums up Melbourne’s northern suburbs and the biggest reason that we decided to move there – it’s a cultural melting pot where food is the universal language, and any restaurant or cafe can feel like home to any number of nationalities. It’s a special thing  : )

 

Cedars Bakery on Urbanspoon