Saturday, November 26, 2011

Melbourne Cafes

I love the artsy cafes dotted around the inner-city suburbs of Melbourne. Admittedly, I don't exactly fit in with the regular crowd - with their funky hairdos and eclectic fashion - but I still like to soak in the atmosphere, and the food (and apparently coffee) are pretty awesome!

I'm going to be lazy and group them into this one post. Here's a list:

1) Cafe Gaia - 4 Avoca Street, South Yarra

Got to the cafe just as it was about to close. But the staff were still very friendly and accommodating - offered us a few minutes to quickly scan the menu and place our orders before the kitchen closed. Unfortunately, they had already started packing up the chairs and tables so I couldn't really experience the ambience of the cafe.

Had the piadinas on the menu - roast pumpkin and olive ($12) and double smoked ham with gruyere cheese, tomatoes and basil ($12).

I would like the chance to go back there again to try more things from the menu, and preferably not close to closing time so there's a chance to sit back, relax, and enjoy the food unhurriedly :)

Best Earl Grey tea I've ever had - not sure what brand this was...

Cafe Gaia on Urbanspoon

2) (Finally!) Arcadia - Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Been wanting to check this place out since I walked past it sometime last year and noticed the queue of people waiting for a table. Walked/trammed past a few more times, always gazing longingly at the cafe. Yes, I'm pretty sure my face had a look of longing on it each time I caught a glimpse of the cafe.

So FINALLY last week, I got a chance to sample and decide for myself the true standard (in my opinion!) of the food there.

Went for brunch with a friend, and after looking around (discretely) to see what the other Arcadia customers were eating, decided on the following two items:

Middle Eastern spiced eggs on rye with red pepper pesto, spinach, poached eggs & hazelnut dukkah

Corn Fritters w/ smoked salmon, fresh rocket, poached eggs & chilli & coriander yoghurt dressing

I loooove nuts. So naturally, I really liked the hazelnut dukkah that was sprinkled on top of the eggs on the first dish. Also liked the sweet red pepper pesto that was spread on the bread. Actually, I liked everything on the plate. And I really liked how multi-faceted the whole dish was.

Same goes for the smoked salmon on corn fritters - loved the multiple flavours. The corn fritters were perfect! Slightly crisp on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. I've had corn fritters that were very dense and stodgy before. And I'm glad to say that these corn fritters were the total opposite of stodgy!! The smoked salmon was amazing - literally melted in my mouth, not too salty, just the right moisture. Perfect. Oh and the yoghurt on top - blew me away. Hehe. Strong words - but it was very very tasty and went well with the eggs, salmon and fritters.

I also ordered the chai tea here - the proper kind, with the tea and spices soaked in milk.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that I was a very happy person after this meal - what an amazing start to the day! Arcadia only has 2 stars in its review in The Age's Cheap Eats Guide - but I think it deserves 3!! :)

Arcadia on Urbanspoon

3) De Clieu - Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Noticed this place on the way to Arcadia, and had the chance to make a visit just yesterday. Didn't stop here for a substantial brekkie, so just had a couple of coffees, and an open sandwich - Le Croque de Clieu. And yes, I actually had a coffee!! Only because when I looked this cafe up on good 'ol Google, I read a lot of reviews about the coffee here. It's a sister cafe of Seven Seeds, and serves Seven Seeds coffee.

The service was simple and efficient. The decor - lots of wood, not dissimilar to Seven Seeds, just slightly more chic, minus the hanging bikes.

I ordered a weak flat white (probably to the horror of the waiter). At first glance when the coffee was served - my exact thought was "pretty pattern :)". Took a sip, made a funny face. No sugar in it... Added 2 teaspoons and tried another sip. Big smile :D Yes I could finally appreciate that this was good coffee (despite having to drink the coffee with lots of sugar and requesting for it to be 'weak'). I know, coffee snobs may be reading this and looking down on their noses at me. Whatevs.

The Croque de Clieu was basically sunny-side up egg, on bread, with roast tomato, brie (I think..), labne (?) and lemon aioli on the side. Super yum. I'm not sure what type of bread it was - some sort of sourdough from the looks of it, but it was amazing bread!! I was so excited, that I forgot to take a picture of the food :p And also forgot exactly what was in the sandwich.. Yes, epic fail on my part. But the total bill for 2 coffees and the sandwich came to $20.10. Not bad :)

Coffee counter at De Clieu

De Clieu on Urbanspoon

4) Rouge - Beatty Avenue, Armadale

Nice, quaint, French-style cafe. Pretty window display. Friendly staff.

The best chocolate croissant I've ever had ($5.60)!

Simple, super yummy, and well-balanced spinach and goat's cheese torte ($17.50).

Rouge Cafe on Urbanspoon


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