There aren’t many people I know who wouldn’t agree that brunch is the best meal of the day. Being a combination of breakfast and lunch you can pretty much get away with eating anything from stacked pancakes with ice cream and maple syrup to baked eggs in spicy tomato sauce. You can have desert as your main or as well as, you can have a bloody mary or a banana milk shake and it can be full of superfoods or greasy as hell! Brunch is a meal to be enjoyed when you have plenty of time on your hands, and, more often than not, a hangover from a great night before. It is not rare for me to be preparing breakfast food at work and orders to come in with a request to be made fast because the customer is in a rush. Why go out for breakfast if you are in a rush? If you’re going to pay $8 for toast with jam, at least take your time to sit and enjoy the company of your partner, friends or a great book. Whilst we’re on the topic of rushing, I don’t believe that any meal should be particularly rushed; food is an integral part of life which provides us with fuel, conversation topics and a situation in which to be sociable. When food is rushed it is simply not enjoyed, and food, especially when paid for, should be a pleasure.
So, back to brunch. In the past two and a half months spent in Melbourne I have only brunched on two occasions but they have both been a resounding success. The cafe culture is part of what drew me to Melbourne so seeking out the best cafes has been a major part of my experience so far. Coffee is taken very seriously here, so it isn’t hard to find a great espresso, but the explosive coffee culture does mean that the exciting or unique aesthetics of a place do not always filter through to the quality of the coffee. Of course, there are the well known places where you are pretty much guaranteed a superb coffee and food to match, but ever the adventurer it is always exciting to find a really fantastic place hidden away that you can recommend to people. The first place in which I brunched was after a night of heavy drinking and when I met my brunch buddy at about mid day, we were both passing out with hunger. Being a weekend day everywhere was packed and we ended up walking around for about 15 minutes before being satisfied with the place we found. Reflective of my hangover is the fact that I actually have no idea of the name of the gem we came across. We both knew that our meal had to be salty and eggy… Not wanting to get food envy we opted for the same dish; pumpkin bread toast with avocado, slow roast tomato, goats cheese and an added poached egg, this was imperative as it was the only thing we were certain we both wanted to eat when browsing the menus. This decision followed several cups of very sweet English breakfast tea. The meal was a delight; savoury, tasty, salty and comforting but I couldn’t help feeling slightly off satisfied when the end came. I think this was more to do with the hangover than the portion size. To our delight, the waiter, after putting up with our rubbish banter throughout the hour we were there, surprised us with a gorgeous, fresh from the oven scone covered with whipped Chantilly cream and intense strawberry jam. It was the perfect end to the meal and provided us with the burst of energy needed to continue with our day in a semi-functioning fashion. I am determined to go back to this place to sample more of their delights and most importantly find out the name of the cafe which allowed us to hide away in the corner of the outside courtyard and laugh about things that most likely weren’t funny.
My second brunch date happened to occur on the same road as my first, Gertrude street, in Fitzroy – one of my favourite parts of Melbourne! This time, I knew the place, for I had done a trial shift there in my first week of job hunting. It had always been my intention to go back but I wanted to wait long enough to be a random face. It was a hard 2 months since the menu at De Clieu is probably one of the most attractive menus I have ever seen. I wanted everything on it, even the dishes containing ingredients I don’t eat. My friend and I were true Melbourneians on this occasion and opted to sit outside despite the crisp winter weather but the sun was shining on us and the flat white I started with soon warmed my hands. After much debate and discussion my friend ordered corn fritters with mashed avocado and pancetta whilst I went for smashed peas on soy and linseed sourdough with feta. The portions were generous and I was not able to finish mine, but I would much prefer that than to be left hungry! As mentions before, I believe that a brunch occasion should be enjoyed to its maximum capacity so I was not afraid to ask for an extra lemon slice to squeeze over my smashed peas, which added the extra moisture to make them just perfect. I knew I would love De Clieu and I did, despite them not offering me a job 😉
I have compiled an ever growing mental list of places to go for brunch in Melbourne and I am greatly looking forward to having more culinary brunch experiences just like those I have been able to enjoy already. Yum yum yum.