I headed over the West Gate Bridge today and finally visited the Duchess of Spotswood, and I’m pleased to say it was well worth the wait, and every bit as lovely as I expected. (If the truth be told I actually arranged a client meeting there JUST so I could try it out). A warm welcome when we arrived, and a strong and full-bodied piccolo, delivered with a smile, was a most excellent start to the work day. Being the first day of the school holidays I had Junior in tow as well, so a good book, an excellent hot chocolate and a serve of scrambled eggs meant he was extremely content.
The good folk of the Duchess make the most of what’s in season, and despite many tempting treasures on the menu, I ended with up the ‘Simple Pleasures’, a delightfully pretty plate full of asparagus, broad beans, kipler potatoes, with goats curd and perfectly cooked poached eggs. I may at this point admit to a slight bit of dish envy when watching what was delivered to other tables, but this in no way was to detract from my own breakfast which I enjoyed immensely – a light and delicate dish perfect for the unexpectedly warm morning.
This morning, amidst a torrential downpour, Melbourne-style, I made my way to The Meatball and Wine Bar to try out the new breakfast menu. Having previously sampled the dinner balls (see my post here), there was no way I was going to turn down this invitation so I presented my bleary-eyed self at 7.30am and prepared to get my balls on with the lovely @FiBrook who was already wide awake and ready to party.
Things started well as our delightful waitress could sense my immediate need for caffeine and brought me a sensational piccolo (coffee by Dukes). As the good stuff hit my veins I gradually regained the ability for cognitive thought and grown up conversation, and started on menu perusement and at the same time caught up on Oscars goss with @amystown and @sarahcooks.
The principle of the breakfast menu is the same as for dinner – choice of balls, sauce and sides. Between us we tried:
1. Egg, charred corn and aged cheddar with hollandaise sauce and a side of smoked salmon
2. Creamy egg with pesto sauce and a side of avocado
3. Green eggs with hollandaise sauce and a side of mushroom with taleggio
4. A creamy egg slider with italian tomato sauce and a side of bacon
The balls in this equation were actually a gorgeous scrambled egg mixture which is slowcooked in a mould so it comes out in the shape of a ball. Genius. Perfectly sized portions, seemingly endless combinations, delightful happy staff even at such an ungodly hour, and damn fine coffee.
Breakfast jackpot hit again, balls and all. Loved it.
When I heard we had a new café/restaurant/bar opening up literally 5 minutes from our front doorstep, I was pretty happy. Kew now has a burgeoning dining scene, from the more established Estivo and St Katherines, to Mr Bianco (who just celebrated their 1st birthday), and the very excellent Ora, but there’s always room for more!
The latest offering at Lil Boy Blue from the extremely hospitable Josh Clarke and his gorgeous wife now opens up a whole new range of options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Let’s start with the coffee. Allpress. Made lovingly and expertly by the instantly best-friendable Casey. This lady sure knows how to make a piccolo. I’ve got a bit of a girl crush to be honest.
It didn’t hurt that the first time I walked in, she greeted me like part of the family. This is a trait shared by all the staff, who can’t do enough to make you feel right at home, including Josh himself who took time out to have a chat and show off some of his tempting baked goods straight out of the oven.
Then there’s the gorgeous fit out: exposed brick, bright blue glassware, lovely crockery, quirky light fittings, hand painted bathroom doors, ornate framing, and fresh flowers.
And I haven’t even gotten to the food yet. On my first visit I tried the BLT brioche. Heaven. Salty and sweet all at the same time, and for dessert a poached pear tart with vanilla bean anglaise and toasted crushed almonds. Divine.
For our breakfast visit we tried the pulled pork brioche with truffle pecorino and pickles which was indeed the business. Luckily we still had room to try the gorgeous Noisette fruit loaf with whipped honey and vanilla butter. Perfect. They also have donuts filled with Turkish delight so there goes my diet.
Upstairs can be used as a function space, or to just take the overload from downstairs when they get busy. On my second visit in as many days (yes it’s that good) the place was HEAVING at 10am. I mean turning-people-away-busy, and they’ve only been open 2 weeks.
They very kindly take bookings for breakfast which I dig, but I can see this place having a queue down the street before too long, as the word spreads and people get a taste for Casey’s coffee. (Back off people, I saw her first!)
There is also a fabulous little room at the very front of the upstairs space, which is now referred to as ‘The Ladies’ Celebration Room’ because since Lil Boy Blue opened, it has been constantly occupied by groups of girlfriends with buckets of bubbles. Sounds like the perfect idea to me. Again, book this ahead of time to avoid disappointment!
Now we just need to go back and try the dinner menu, and I can’t wait. Stay tuned for that!
You can find Lil Boy Blue at 309 High St in Kew. There are probably more than a few locals who will want to punch my lights out for sharing this with everyone, but I just had to let you know. It’s bloody marvellous.
Now HERE is a gem. Owned by Raymond Capaldi (renowned chef of many years repute both overseas and here in Melbourne, not least including co-owning Fenix, and now owner of the very fabulous Hare & Grace in Collins St), Marmalade and Soul is located on Queens Parade in Clifton Hill, a stone’s throw from Brunswick St.
The first thing that hits you, aside from the gorgeous fit-out (thankfully not too cliched, with some nice vintage touches, and cleverly-designed light shades made from colanders and other kitchen utensils, as well as an open kitchen and a fabulous communal table) is the incredible menu.
I’ve never seen anything like it, and I eat breakfast out alot. Probably way more than I should. In any case, apart from a few staples, and an offering for the kidlets of either googie-eggs with soldiers or Coco-Pops, we were in uncharted territory. It was impossible not to succumb to the adventure. Presented with such confidence, the sheer balls of it had me going ‘hell yes, I WILL have some scrambled eggs cooked in burnt butter with curry powder’. Thank God I did because that, my friends, was some curry, eggy goodness right there. It also probably didn’t hurt that our waitress was ridiculously lovely, friendly and FRENCH, which meant when she recited the specials <yes they also have breakfast specials> we asked her to do them again, just to hear her accent.
The coffee was SPLENDID. I think it’s worth saying that again. Splendid. So good, I had 3 piccolos and was pinging off my head by the time I left.
But back to breakfast. Between us we also tried the caramelised orange and olive cake, with burnt orange custard, and maple bacon, and the corned beef jaffle with baked beans and salted egg yolk marmalade. My brain hurt trying to think about how this was all going to work, but BAM! Out it all came, on beautifully mismatched vintage crockery, my heart just told me to go with it and my tastebuds happily followed. Everything was fabulous. Loved it all.
Friendly welcome: check. Great service: check. Awesome coffee: check. An utterly original menu that makes you go WHOOOOO! Checkmate.
Good god. After a truly spectacular lunch at Hare & Grace last week with my new food partner in crime, and now this breakfast magnificence, I’m officially a Ray Capaldi groupie. And considering he’s kinda like a rugged Billy Bob Thornton, that may not be bad thing. Unless of course, you’re my husband. Shhhh!
A warm Spring morning in Melbourne is indeed a thing of beauty, and even more so by the glittering waters of Port Phillip Bay. Zip over the West Gate Bridge, or arrive by bike or boat if you’re so inclined, and explore the glorious waterfront of Williamstown.
Its rich maritime history is evident, from the warship HMAS Castlemaine berthed at the jetty which is open to the public, to the canon perched on the grass facing Melbourne across the water, to the ship building yards and lighthouse.
Williamstown is also home to some varied and interesting eateries, and my favourite so far, with arguably one of the best breakfasts in the area, is The Strand.
On this particular Saturday morning, the terrace beckoned us with its stylish outdoor furniture, coffee aroma and menu of breakfast classics with a twist, including poached egg, served on lovely toast, and adorned with beautifully prepared enoki mushrooms with just a hint of truffle oil.
We also tried some fantastic home made hashbrowns, some seriously good hollandaise, bacon with relish, and eggs on toast. My breakfast wingman declared this his new favourite breakfast in Melbourne – and this bloke knows his eggs. The hotcakes were also a big winner with our little dude, and the coffee was simply excellent.
The staff could not have been more friendly, eager to please, and welcoming, and whilst we were there we saw a large group of older people, as well as couples, and parents with a stroller and in need of a highchair all accommodated with the same smile and service.
This is a perfect spot to stop, relax and while away part of your weekend, drinking in the glorious view whilst being seriously spoiled by the menu.