Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Melissa Cakes – Altona – Continental
34 Pier Street, Altona Beach
03 9398 8898
Often skipped over in favour of Williamstown, Pier Street, Altona has a quaint shopping centre with a dozen or so cafés and restaurants, all providing good, wholesome food with an almost ‘old world’ kind of service.
On the corner of Pier and Queen Streets, Melissa Cakes has a wonderful view of the historic Logan Reserve across the road or if you prefer to sit outside, Altona Beach.
In my humble opinion, this café is the star of the street if you are looking for cake and coffee. It doesn’t have the range of an Acland Street patisserie but there is a lovely selection of continental cakes and pastries rivalled only by Salt ‘n’ Pepa across the road, whose selection is supplied by Routleys.
This café is relatively new but has blended in well with the good feeling of the street. My friend and I were welcomed and served shortly after we arrived. Having had a coffee there the day before, I was treated like an old friend.
A Big Breakfast will cost you $10.00 plus drinks. Focaccias, baguettes and bagels in the under $10.00 range. We sat at a table inside, although there is a lounge area, where the wide screen was at one stage, providing the entertaining shenanigans of Humphrey B Bear.
Melissa’s cakes are delivered each day. Slices, sponges topped with glazed fruit and slivered almonds, syrup cakes, cookies, cannoli – some available in bite-size and who-needs-lunch-I’ll-just-have-dessert portions. These are cleverly showcased behind glass for those of us who drool too closely.
I chose a bite-size baklava, proving, on my part, a high level of self-discipline (together with a low level of income). It was everything baklava should be, the lightness of filo lavished by a sweet, heavy syrup jealously enveloping crushed almonds (or were they walnuts – damn it, that ruined the whole ambiance of the moment didn’t it?). It left me wishing I had chosen the meal replacement size.
My coffee was enjoyable and nicely presented although, I do prefer my coffee a little stronger than what must be the average. I took the photo of my mates hot chocolate because well, you can see why.
For those with a later curfew than mine, there is a bar and through the week the café stays open until about 11.00 pm depending on when the stragglers leave. Bar food is available and as is written on its board, ‘smiles are free’.
Incidentally, I’ve found one of the best places on the street for a quick and very good coffee is at Pier Street Charcoal Chicken. Its manager is quite a gifted coffee maker so this has become a meeting place for many. Alternatively, grab a take away and wander down the Pier.