Brunch out south of the Yarra
I wasn’t a goodie two shoes at school but I was certainly not the type to get into enough trouble to get a Sunday detention. Two weeks ago, I attended Sunday school for the first time. I was not in trouble, I was just peckish.
Brighton Schoolhouse is located in a heritage listed building on Church Street, Brighton. Yes, the small strip that is the local hangout for Melbourne’s CEOs, retired footballers and dolled-up housewives. If you get lucky, you may even spot some Hollywood glamour, taking a break down-under, showing off their latest toys.
Speaking of footballers, aside from hospitality veterans from Il Fornaio and the Last Piece, the Hawks’ Josh Gibson is a part -owner of this exciting venture. The story on the Street is that this used to be a part of the boarding school for Brighton Grammar, dating back as far as 1843. It really resembles more of a church than a school but does have a bit of a Hogwarts feel as you walk through its gates. There is an extensive outdoor area, perfect for summer and an onsite playground to keep little brunchers occupied.
If you step inside, you are in for an entirely different dining experience. The original high ceilings and cathedral windows are mixed with modern wall art displaying 20th century masterminds. As a huge lover of architecture this building is a remarkable place to sit and drink your coffee.
While it takes a few minutes for the staff to seat us (despite a number of empty tables), the service that follows is friendly (albeit sometimes slow). An examination of the menu reveals that the class of 2014 dominates this school’s vocabulary, with menu items such as the Ryan Gosling Fruit Salad and the Chief Wigum Pulled Pork Burger. I order the Hashtag #Selfie GF (warm cured salmon, potato hash, poached eggs, watercress, grueye cheese). My Co-Bruncher tells the waiter she would like the Eggs Bradley Cooper (Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want everything Bradley Cooper), which turns out to be an Eggs Benedict dish with ham hock and field mushrooms. I then proceed explaining to my co-bruncher all about hashtags and selfies, something her generation never needed to put up with, and the more I tell her about the world of social media the more she finds my generation utterly peculiar.
There are two saints involved in the making of this church. St Ali is behind the coffee and St David’s Dairy is behind the cheese in this institution. Brighton Schoolhouse also supports Kindred Organics in Tasmania, the only commercially grown quinoa in Australia, showing the owners’ dedication to supporting Australian farmers. Our meals are beautifully plated and do not disappoint, certainly attempting to invent new dishes and stay away from anything that could be judged as boring. Brighton Schoolhouse also offers a decent wine list meaning that you can choose to spike your brunch should you feel the need to do so.
Overall, a ‘saintly’ experience, perfect for a larger group or lunch with young children. The venue is adorned with a mixture of communal tables and smaller tables to satisfy parties of all shapes and sizes and has plenty of space for strollers. The indoor and outdoor seating area will ensure that you are well catered for in all of Melbourne’s four daily seasons.
Food: 8 out of 10
Atmosphere: 9 out of 10
Staff: 7.5 out of 10
Getting there: 15 St Andrews Street Brighton (enter from Church Street). Ample of parking around and Middle Brighton station is a two minutes’ walk away.
Best for: families, larger groups, champagne breakfasts. If you are in this area, do yourself a favour and take a stroll down to the beautiful bay to walk off (some) of the calories.