Brunch out south of the Yarra
St Kilda. It is one of those places that you either love or hate. An electric mix of party-goers, hippies, backpackers, athletes, and lovers of the bay. While I have chosen not to live in St Kilda, I can be found here more often than not, and those of you who know me can vouch that I could only fall neatly into the latter category of St Kilda patrons.
St Kilda is divided to three main burrows- Acland Street and surrounds, Fitzroy Street and surrounds and the abovementioned beautiful bay that gives St Kilda much of its glory. (I consider St Kilda East quite separate to St Kilda; see my review on Las Chicas).
I decided to start my series of St Kilda reviews with the leafy Fitzroy Street end, which neighbours the lush lawns of Albert Park. And what better place to try out dining on Fitzroy Street than a café named Fitzrovia.
What I like about Fitzrovia is that it is a perfect venue to visit either in summer or winter. The weather was kind to us on the morning of the review. My three co-brunchers (consisting of one human and two canines) and I found a perfect table outside, with a view to the park and Fitzroy Street. There is something very grand and European about this end of town and it is a real pleasure sitting outside here on a peaceful Sunday Morning. If you happen to visit on a Melbourne winter’s day, step inside into one of the two dining areas. It is warm and cosy here and you will instantly feel that you have gone somewhere pleasantly familiar.
Fitzrovia uses the original fittings of the old building it is located in and carefully melds it with its modern wide glass-wall frontage. The entrance to this venue is simply stunning, flawlessly combining old-school kitchen tools, flowers, fresh produce in wooden crates and a decadent display of sweets, complemented by the ample sunlight that comes through the glass walls.
The menu here aims to please with elegance. The notable breakfast items include a crème brûlée French toast with banana, whipped mascarpone, toasted pecans and grilled Istra bacon with vanilla verjus syrup or a toasted apple, apricot activated almond and chia seed bread with black figs, vincotto, creamed honey labne and toasted almonds.
After much deliberation, I choose to build my own breakfast with avocado and fetta mash, orange and beetroot cured Tasmanian salmon and poached eggs. The eggs and the salmon are winners but the fetta in the avocado mash is too faint for my liking and a bit of a letdown. The toast arrives buttered and thinly sliced.
My human co-bruncher goes for the sweet potato and caramelized onion fritters, poached eggs, thyme roast field mushrooms, snow pea shoots, grilled saganaki & truffled salsa verde. These arrive beautifully presented. You can taste every ingredient in the fritters, giving it a real homemade, wholesome flavour. The mushrooms are aromatic and with an addictive texture. The Saganaki serving is generous and is neither oily nor dry.
Other exciting highlights in the menu is Fitzrovia’s wide range of smoothies, including the Bounty Banana Dream (Chocolate protein, almond milk, shredded coconut, raw Mörk cacao) or the Health Monster (Iced cold coconut water, spirulina, kale, coriander, cucumber and lemon).
Coffee is by St Ali and there is also a single origin on offer.
Many staff members here are evidently hard-working, knowledgeable and friendly. While we were not greeted with a smile or excitement by one staff member, other wait staff made sure to say goodbye to each person as they left and came to check whether we wanted more coffee (I did!) and whether our meals were enjoyable.
The patrons at this venue are dog lovers, cyclists, and urban professionals. There are not many parents with young kids around, but there is plenty of space to accommodate prams outside.
Its location between St Kilda beach and Albert Park makes this a very romantic spot. If you are looking to impress someone special, Fitzrovia can offer a picnic hamper to die for, including salads, sandwiches and drinks, all sourced locally, allowing you to taste what Victoria has to offer without leaving St Kilda.
Food: 8.5 out of 10
Atmosphere: 9.5 out of 10
Staff: 8 out of 10
Best for: A day by the bay, a break from a long cycle, breakfast with your canine, a place to read a book while the world walks by.
Getting here: 155 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. The number 16 and 96 are across the road and the 64, 3 and 67 trams are a three minutes’ walk (get off at St Kilda junction). There is cheap paid parking next to Albert Park.