2015 was the year of the butt. Big butts. Instead of anacondas and buns – we had freakshakes, frankenfoods (cronuts, cruffins etc) and fried chicken to add junk to the trunk. Food trends come and go, but brunch in Melbourne is a staple. It’s stupendously gourmet and oh so #instaworthy. So much so, that when I ordered coconut pancakes in Hawaii and received a singular lonely pancake, I thought to myself ‘Where are the edible flowers? Where is the quenelle of ice cream made from Madagascan vanilla beans picked by oompa loompas? Where is the dehydrated raspberry powder and perfect cubes of exotic fruits?’. It was time to accept that I was a Melbourne food snob, spoilt, very spoilt, with the overflowing diversity and creativity of Melbourne cafes. Without further ado, I give you the best brunch openings of 2015 (in alphabetical order). It was a difficult task, but I begrudgingly accept :P.
BABA SUS – GLEN IRIS
The ‘Father Pig’ brings an Asian themed menu to the leafy streets of Glen Iris. Deriving influences from Asia, the resulting menu is modern and inventive with plenty of Asian twists. Gone are the days of boring ol’ scrambled eggs and eggs benedict. Where else in Melbourne, can you get Hong Kong waffles, with green tea ice cream, berry compote and pistachio praline? That’s right. Nowhere.
On to savoury options. Asian ingredients are in abundance, with crunchy bean sprouts and smokey pulled pork filling the ‘Pig-Lette’ omelette. For traditional brunch flavours. Croquettes are filled with creamed corn. This quiet leafy suburb is fortunate to have a high calibre brunch cafe, steps away from Burwood station. It ticks all boxes. Inventive menu. Great service. Trendy decor.
Hong Kong Waffles w/ Vanilla Custard, Green Tea Ice Cream, Berry Compote, Pistachio Pralin
Corn and Zucchini Croquettes w/ House Cured Salmon, Herb Aioli Asparagus, Frisee, Poached Egg
BLUE FOX CAFE – KEW
Blue Fox Cafe makes traditional brunch look boring. The visual spectacle at Blue Fox begins with the big boy toys. Out comes the chef tools – smoking guns, 65 degree eggs, coconut ‘snow’. A smoky jar arrives on the table and we known we’re in for some hocus pocus chef magic. Small cubes of trout are infused with natural smoky flavours. In the absence of heat, the gorgeous pink flesh picks up the smokey flavour, adding a degree of complexity to the tartare. The saltiness is refined, with a oozy 63 degree egg. Blue Fox joins the ranks of Melbourne cafes that are raising the bar.
Table Smoked Ocean Trout Tartare w/ Slow-cooked 63C egg, Whipped Goat’s curd, Herb Salad, Chargrilled Sourdough
Truffled Braised Mushrooms w/ Fried Polenta, Salsa Verde, Red Onion Pickle, Poached Eggs
EDEN’S BACKYARD – CARLTON
Eden’s backyard is a Carlton newbie taking inspiration from the owners’ Malaysian backgrounds. At Eden’s backyard, the menu is positively sinful, with dessert lovers appeased with all sorts of sugary goodness. The matcha latte is shaped as a cute lil bear . The ‘special’s menu presents ‘Abang Apam’ Malaysian crepes, scattered with an Oreo crumb, green tea ice cream, mixed berry crumble and the fluffiest melt-in-the-mouth fairy floss. If savoury is your calling, you will instantly be drawn to the duck quesadilla in all its cheesy goodness. If comfort food and cheat day is on your agenda, this Carlton cafe will tick all boxes. We look forward to seeing more creative Malaysian influences!
Duck Quesadilla w/ Roast Duck Fillet, Caramelised Onion, Roasted Pepper, Mozzarella
Abang Apam Crepes – Malaysian Style Crepes w/ Green Tea Ice Cream, mixed Berries, Oreo Peanut Crumb, Fairy Floss
KITTY BURNS – ABBOTSFORD
Kitty Burns awakens ‘The Village’ – a new apartment complex, stone’s throw away from the bustling Victoria St. Surrounding gum trees provide a hidden oasis, look outside and you may be tempted to sing Burke’s backyard. Head Chef Aaron Duffy has created an intriguing menu. The Arnold Bennett Omelette is ideal for fish lovers, slow poached, smoked and drizzled with a bechamel and aerated hollandaise sauce. Meat lovers will gravitate towards the Mr Burns, the culprit words – ‘ slab of bacon’. Not a slice, not a sliver, a slab. The Truffle Mac & Cheese croquettes are an irresistible side. Slice the crumbed cigars open, to reveal an orgasmic filling of mac & cheese. With hints of truffle, this dish is a must-order. Sweet options include the multi-coloured french toast, with artful dollops of fruity gels, runny chocolate and a whipped coffee ganache. The instaworthy dishes are no doubt the Eton Mess and the coconut chia pudding. Not merely pretty, they’re lighter options when one is trying to be ‘good’.
Truffle Mac & Cheese Croquettes
THE GLASS DEN – COBURG
The Glass Den is located at the old Pentridge Prison. The historic location, built in 1850, is now the site of housing developments. The towering bluestone facade remains, in a juxtaposition against the cheery pastels of modern townhouses. The gatehouse of the notorious ‘D-division’ is now the dainty location of The Glass Den. These days, it’s a far cry from prison bars. The appearance resembles a greenhouse, with rustic remnants of prison decor, suspended greenery and alchemy inspired knick knacks. Far from the imposing blue walls, it’s airy, fairy and light. In this unique location, you will find brunchers voluntarily locked up. The flavoursome food and intricate plating, knocking our socks off. Sweet-tooths will adore the Glass Den, with hotcakes the size of your face, signature French Toast and toppings that resemble radioactive slime. The green tea mascarpone is subtle in sweetness, against the decadence of the rich chocolate mud-cake. The menu at the Glass Den goes beyond simple brunch fare. Finish your calorie laden meal, with a stroll around Pentridge.
KUU – SOUTH MELBOURNE
‘ Kuu ‘ in Japanese means to eat. Boy, do we love to eat. The philosophy at Kuu is simple – to serve authentic Japanese cuisine, that reflects the essence of the island nation. Ochazuke is simple dish made by pouring a Dashi broth over a mound of brown rice, adorned with scatterings of nori seaweed, smoked trout and sesame seeds. Poured like tea, Kuu is the only place in Melbourne we’ve come across, that serves Ochazuke. Cast your eyes to the sweet cabinet and admire the matcha flavoured sweets. The white chocolate ganache matcha cake led to substantial foodgasms. If you cannot travel to Japan on a whim, consider Kuu in South Melbourne for a taste of authenticity.
Smoked Trout Ochazuke – Brown riced w/ Dashi Broth, smoked Trout, Sesame Seeds, Nori Seedweed
White Chocolate Ganache Matcha Cake
MAMMOTH – ARMADALE
At Mammoth the food infinitely goes beyond standard brunch fare. Sure, there are classics such as avo on toast for the traditionalists. But can’t you order that anywhere? Every dish has a touch of inspiration that elevates the norm to an exciting level. Simple eggs? No, eggs are bruleed with thin strips of pickled zucchini. Creamy benedict? Yes, but Mammoth’s version comes with duck sausage, the most circular fried egg in existence and a Blini (a Russian savoury inspired pancake). The spanner crab egg crepe, strikingly blackened with squid ink, served with a tangy scoop of lemon sorbet and an artful net of crunchy noodles. The talk of the town? The lobster doughnut burger. Mammoth has certainly set the bar high, with food that is both tasty and inventive.
Lobster Donut Burger w/ Green Mango, Papaya Slaw, Cucumber Jam, Siracha Kimpi Mayo
Golden Gaytime Pannacotta w/ Honeycomb, Sable Biscuit, Chocolate Coated Popping candy
MJR TOM – COLLINGWOOD
Looking beyond the traditional egg and bacon, MJR’s menu is latin inspired with pan-Asian twists. The Asian-inspired blue swimmer crab omelette, arrives with scatterings of crispy black quinoa, with a fluffy omelette encasing the seafood within. The banana hot dog is the elephant on the menu. Not quite savoury, not quite sweet – the result is nothing but delicious. Smothered in smoked Scamorza cheese, bacon pieces and those delicious crispy bits you find at the end of a toastie, who knew that bacon, cheese and banana would be the best of friends. If you ever find yourself meandering between those Messina queues, the sport outlets or just looking for a bite to eat, visit MJR on Smith Street for a spot of inventive brunch.
Blue Swimmer Crab Omelette w/ Crisp Black Quinoa, Papaya, Watercress, Vietnamese Mint, Cashews, Chilli Jam
Banana Hot Dog – Roasted Banana w/ Bacon lardons, Smoked Scamorza, Arepa, Toasted Marmalade, Brazil Nut Shavings, Chilli & Coriander Salsa
PAVLOV’S DUCK – FITZROY
Pavlov’s Duck was an accidental discovery from a walk on Smith St, leading us to the reinvigorated menu inspired by the flavours of Sri Lankan cuisine. At first glance, apart from a few menu items, it looked like any ol’ brunch cafe menu, but you’d be surprised to find some Sri Lankan influence in something as simple as a croissant. Pavlov’s pumpkin and chia seed pancakes are unbelievably sweet, with pumpkin being the predominant flavour. The orange mounds are topped with coconut sambol. On weekends and public holidays, a seemingly ‘aged’ food cart serves hoppers fresh to order. These bowl-shaped Sri Lankan pancakes – traditionally eaten for breakfast is adapted for the brunch scene. One of the best underrated openings this year.
Fish & Potato Fritters w/ Avocado Aioli, Coconut, Lemon, Fresh Herbs, Poached Egg
Prawn Omelette Hopper
SQUARE AND COMPASS – EAST MELBOURNE
Square and Compass brings along a similar concept to it’s Northcote sister, where open spaces and health conscious ingredients retain their popularity. The menu is simplistic, the lustiest option being the SA Rock Lobster roll. A soft brioche bun sandwiches big chunks of lobster and crunchy green mango in a Sriracha Mayo.The leek omelette was a standout, brought to life with scatterings of pecorino and hazelnut. Simple, but very satisfying. A range of freshly baked tarts, pastries and smoothies are also available if you’re feeling peckish.
S.A Rock Lobster Roll w/ Sriracha Mayo, Green Mango, Coriander, Lime
Omelette w/ Chargrilled Leek, Pecorino, Hazelnut
THREE MONKEY’S PLACE – DONCASTER
Eastsiders will be pleased that a new local has come to town. Despite its jovial name, Three Monkeys Place takes the breakfast game seriously. Quirky components such as tea marbled eggs, squid ink pasta and pickled octopus make appearances. With dish titles such as ‘Under The Sea’, the inspiration is centred around seafood and Asian influence. Dessert came in the form of roti pancakes. Golden brown, puffed up, and sandwiching chunks of banana and mixed berries. For a touch of quirkiness and artful plating – visit Three Monkeys Place for a tasty and inventive menu. It’s a standout for the outer eastern suburbs.
Housed Cured Beets & Thyme Salmon w/ Fennel Salad, Horseradish Cream Cheese, Rosti, Poached Egg
Roti Pancakes w/ Strawberries, Banana, Mixed Berries, Mascarpone, Canadian Maple Crumble
THE VERTUE OF THE COFFEE DRINK – CARLTON
A seemingly dilapidated white door opens to reveal a modern interior and a gleaming new coffee roaster with copper plumbing, churning out freshly roasted coffee beans. A very impressive interior, where open spaces and natural lighting is king. The Scotch Eggs wrapped in sausage meat, coated in a textured crumb, reveals an oozy golden yolk within.The shredded slow-cooked lamb was alive with Meditteranean flavours. A rustic winner that reminded me of an open kebab mixed with Tabouleh, Dukkah and Tahini. The menu is innovative and tasty at Vertue of the Coffee Drink. If you’re an avid coffee lover or a fan of brunch (who isn’t), this modern Carlton cafe is a definite crowd pleaser.
Scotch Eggs w/ Piccalilli Mayonnaise, Onion Marmalade, Crispy Pig Skin, Brioche Soldiers
Eight Hour Lamb Shoulder w/ Tabouleh, Baby Broccoli, Dukkah, Tahini
VINCENT THE DOG – CARLTON
Don’t know what to name your cafe? Name it after your dog. Sheltered from the hustle and bustle of the Italian district, this cosy brunch cafe has settled nicely on the suburban lawns of Carlton. With an unassuming exterior, a closer examination of the menu reveals some interesting finds. Chinese doughnuts arrive stuffed with Mozarella cheese, balanced by the acidity of picked veggies and a sprinkling of pork floss. Where else could you get this deliciousness in Melbourne? If you happen to journey to Vincent The Dog. Skip the traditional brunch fare and choose one of the interesting menu options.
Chinese Doughnuts w/ pork floss, stuffed with Cheese