Brunch out south of the Yarra
I am sitting on a beach in Asia thinking how I would best describe Melbourne to the lovely Austrian couple I have been chatting to for the last hour. They are planning their trip to Australia and I want to make sure they make the most out of their visit to my beautiful city.
Melbourne. Melbourne is modern innovation meets Victorian grandeur, it is an immaculately groomed bearded hipster, meets sweaty triathlon-training yuppie, it is a bond with coffee, fascination with sushi and admiration for the perfect Xiao Long Bao.
And when I think of Melbourne Cafés, Kettle Black, the new kid on the block, ticks all the boxes that make up “Melbourne”. I Realise that this is a big call to make, particularly for a fresh player and not a long standing institution, but once you visit, you will know I am right.
Kettle Black is the new venture from the people behind Two Birds One Stone, and the Top Paddock. It is an old Victorian, wedged in between cutting edge development of a two new residential high rises across the road from the Botanical Gardens. The menu has strong Australian and Asian influences with items I have never seen before on a breakfast menu, such as the Tataki Ocean Trout with a Raw Kale & Pickled Seaweed Salad, Nuts and Poached Eggs. There is a loyal commitment to sourcing ingredients locally and all organic waste is used for compost to grow the herbs, greens and flowers in Kettle Black’s own greenhouse. Considering that I know exactly where most of the ingredients in my meal are grown (Kettle Black lists the local farms supported) I am quite happy to invest a few extra dollars in my breakfast.
Is there a wait you ask? Possibly. Well, 40 minutes on a Saturday morning to be precise. But on the plus side, my co-brunchers and I enjoy some serious people watching, including the abovementioned yuppie runners, as well as some ex models, and recent St Kilda-Road-development-boom-migrants from the suburbs. I have two male co-brunchers with me today, and while one of them (who doubles as my better half) seems agitated to be forced by me to queue (again?!) for food when we could ”just had cereal at home”, the other, more experienced foodie, isn’t fazed, considering he recently lined up at Chin Chin on a Friday night, and comparatively, this hardly seems like a wait.
We are seated outside in the verandah overlooking the street. Our waitress immediately takes our coffee order and returns fifteen minute later for our food order. We order the Chili Scrambled eggs with Air-Dried Flinders Island Wallaby with Feta and Leaves, Benedict style eggs with Free Range Port Shoulder & aerated Hollandaise, and for the tomato lover in the group (me!) Burrata (and Italian cheese made of Mozzarella and cream) with Raw Heirloom Tomato, Burnt Rainbow Chard, Vinegar, Toast and a Poached Egg.
The dishes are definitely on the small side of servings, but the quality is superior and everything tickles the taste buds. I must admit though that I find the burnt rainbow chard (similar to fried kale) very odd with my eggs. Sometimes fancy just does not work… The chili scrambled eggs on the other hand, were a clear winner and this is a must try breakfast dish for overseas visitors.
All in all, this is not a place to call your regular, but should hold a prestigious position on a visitor’s to do list in Melbourne. It is also a great place for those wishing to indulge in fine dining during the early hours of the day. The architecture and fit out of the place are a reason alone to drop in for a Five Senses coffee and if the lines are putting you off, you can go to the food trolley outside to grab some pastries, delicious Bircher muesli and a take away coffee, on your way to the Botanical Gardens/ Albert Park/ anywhere else magnificent in this vibrant city.
Atmosphere: 9 out of 10
Food: 8 out of 10
Service: 7 out of 10
Best for: out of towners, a special occasion.
Getting there: 50 Albert Road, South Melbourne. Unless it is a Sunday, leave the car at home and jump on a tram down to Domain Interchange.
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