We’ve been trying to get out a little bit more now that the dust has settled from our house move last year and we’ve managed to achieve a lot of the things on our house to-do list in the past few months. One of the things I’ve been enjoying doing is visiting cafés I hear about for ages on Facebook and Instagram. I don’t want to be a total sheep, but when people in Melbourne say something is worth visiting over and over again, endlessly Instagramming their coffee and chia bowls in delicate white light, I need to know if their opinions can be trusted and how high the level of hipster wank is at that particular café.
Obviously that needs to be done by stuffing my face with (hopefully) delicious foods! So here is a quick round up of the places we have eaten recently:
Mr. Brightside café – Caulfield South
This is a cheery neighbourhood café with lots of comfy shared tables in the middle and nice bench seating around the edges. While it can get overrun with “noisy mothers” in the mornings (according to the Chic To Do dad who had visited previously), my dad, daughter and I visited on a quiet Thursday around lunch time and it was pleasantly relaxed. The menu has a lot of really delicious food that strikes a nice balance between gourmet and good old café breakfast and lunch. I opted for one of the freshly made salads on display. The Habibi salad was full of grains, tomatoes, legumes and lots of other good stuff, while my dad had the Nordic bruschetta with smoked trout (which sadly doesn’t seem to be on their new menu, though there is something called the Nordic loaf that sounds similar). My daughter had hot chips, which we all agreed were exactly the right thickness and perfectly crunchy. The pricing is reasonable and the atmosphere is great. Well worth a visit if you want a relaxed place to catch up with friends or have a bite to eat while you read the paper.
Kitty Burns – Abbotsford
This was my pre-Mother’s Day Mother’s Day outing with my husband and daughter. I’ve been wanting to try this place for aaaaagggeeessss, and not just because they stock Bistro Morgan dougnuts, which you KNOW I love. It’s endlessly popping up on my Instagram feed every weekend from numerous foodie accounts I follow, and it just looks so light and bright, and the food looks so beatifully presented that I had to see what the EXTREME FUSS was about. We arrived there around 2.30pm on a Saturday and though it was busy, we got a table straight away which was great. The café is located in a sort of apartment complex right near the river and bike path just up past Victoria Gardens shopping centre. The high ceilings and wall to floor glass everywhere means you get to see the leafy surrounds from every angle, and the minimalist blonde wood and polished cement floors are SO Melbourne. We settled in and ordered – I got The KB, which is a pork belly brioche bun with green mango & papaya slaw, kimchi mayonnaise, house made pickles and kimchi, and a decaf iced coffee. My husband ordered the Torched Kingfish with kimchi mayonnaise, leek ash, sea succulents, roast sesame dressing, edamame beans, Japanese rice, and a 63/63 egg, and a flat white. My daughter had the Mac ‘n’ Cheese and a juice. I have to say, as beautifully presented as the all the dishes were, they fell flat. The pork belly in my brioche bun was barely warm and cooked almost like bacon rashers, so it was tough and sort of tasteless. My husband said his dish as a whole lacked flavour, and also wasn’t a lot of food for the twenty two dollar price tag. He also noted the coffee was quite average, and I agreed my iced coffee wasn’t as good as I had hoped. The thing we both enjoyed the most was our daughter’s mac ‘n’ cheese, which was a slab of mac ‘n’ cheese, crumbed and deep fried, so it had tons of flavour and was really filling. Overall, Kitty Burns was quite a disappointment – except for the chocolate cronut I bought home with me to enjoy later. Even the Bistro Morgan doughnuts got a pass from me because they were sitting out in full sunlight and half of them had the toppings melting off. Don’t think we’ll be coming back here again unfortunately!
Black Squirrel Café – Sandringham
Despite it’s fairly unremarkable black café blind awnings and small shopfront, this little café is quite a cosy hole in the wall place to visit. It had been recommended by a few people and we tried it out a few weeks ago for a nice lazy breakfast on a Saturday where we didn’t have anything else to do for the first time in ages. The exposed brick walls and rustic tables and chairs make for a cosy, comfy place to have wholesome and filling breakfast. There’s a gas fire place on one wall (which wasn’t on when we were there, but now that the icy mornings have arrived I’m betting it’s the first thing they turn on each day when they open), and a display case and baskets that are both full of delicious homemade sweets and pastries. I ordered the Smashed Avocado toast with scrambled eggs, whipped goat’s cheese, capers, pickled red onion, olive oil and vinegar reduction and a decaf iced coffee. My husband ordered a green eggs and ham dish, which was pesto eggs with a bunch of other breakfast fixings (it’s not on the website menu) and a flat white, and our daughter had a chocolate milkshake and a smiley face biscuit. Despite my food not being anything out of the ordinary (I could order smashed avo with goat’s cheese until the cows come home I love it so much), it was tasty, filling, and not too expensive. The iced coffee was nice, and my daughter was pleased with her treats (though she is relatively easy to please when you present her with a cookie that has Smarties and purple icing on it). My husband said his dish was a little bit oily, but given that he had pesto I figure it comes with the territory a little bit. Overall, I would definitely come back here – it’s quiet, unpretentious and the prices are great. Plus, there was a chocolate brownie in the display case that was calling my name….
Mister and Miss – Mont Albert
I first heard about this café a few weeks ago on The Urban List while scrolling through my Facebook feed. The picture they used was of some delicious looking pancakes, which coincidentally I had been craving lately, so I thought it was a sign from the food gods that I needed to indulge my craving and try this place out. It’s located on Whitehorse Road in amongst a group of businesses that aren’t really shops (well except for the gun shop next door), and it seems to be the only café in that location, so it was busy this past Sunday morning when I visited with friends. We were told there would be a fifteen minute wait, but after five minutes they were able to seat us. I ordered the pancakes with vanilla marscapone (which was AMAZING), fresh berries, kiwi, and maple syrup (on the side because it’s not my favourite flavour). I also got a fresh juice with orange, apple and ginger that came in a generous serve and was garnished with a slice of lemon and some vaguely tropical leaves. It was delightfully festive and incredibly refreshing. The pancakes were light and fluffly, with the tartness of the berries balanced out nicely by the marscapone and a tiny drizzle of the maple syrup. Mister + Miss is a big café, but the service was prompt, the food was delicious and the atmosphere on a rainy weekend morning was perfect. Definitely check this one out if you’re in the area. They take reservations if you have a party of four or more, but any less than that and you may have to wait a few minutes (but judging by the table turnover no one hovering at the door had to wait more than fifteen minutes or so). The pricing was reasonable and the food was plentiful and flavoursome!
Been to any good cafés lately? I’d love to know about them!
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