Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Wall - Balaclava - Breakfast

rear 280 Carlisle Street, Balaclava
9593 8280

There's an incongruity between the inside and the outside of The Wall. Outside, this appears to be an über hip outpost of Fitzroy camped out in East St Kilda. The kind of place that you think about applying heavy eye make-up despite getting out of bed on a Sunday MORNING. Only two small tables outside, and a couple of long cushioned benches against a sunny brick wall. Order from cool young things in tight jeans and black rock t-shirts through the-hole-in-the-wall counter and linger in the warmth of the sun as you sip your coffee.

Inside, the decor is all post-industrial and matched/mis-matched found local things, like the old wooden sign from a Kosher Butcher (which, though nodding to the area's Russian-Jewish history, jarred as most of the meat on the chalk-board menu was pig by-product (bacon, ham and pancetta) is also fits the more 'Northside' sensibility of the cafe. The customers inside don't fit the image of The Wall. Which is, I'm guessing, due to the menu.

All sorts of toasted pide make up the menu aside from a jungle curry added as almost an afterthought in small letters right at the bottom. And the place is packed with small people eating plain buttered or ham/cheese/tomato toasted pide with their small sticky fingers and drinking babycini attended upon by their big people eating smoked salmon and roquette toasted pide or pide filled with varying combinations of salad and ham or pancetta. Well, I would too! If I had a small person, I'd love the wall. Food that they'll eat without fussing over and seats that they won't fall out of unless they try very hard.

I enjoyed the baked beans that I ate but I wouldn't call them a knockout dish (I did dig the presentation - it was smart). My coffee was very good and I'd rate it ******** according to fluffy's rating system (though thankfully it didn't come in the uncomfortable cup, just the standard $1.50 glass). Don't get me wrong, the food was fine just very standard cafe fare especially where there is so much variety nearby.

Next time I go, I'll stick with coffee, sit on the bench and do the crossword or simply watch the world go by.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Coffee Pot Café – Werribee – Modern Australian

Shop 1/70 Watton Street
03 9741 4141

If you’re travelling to or through Werribee, you are unlikely to go hungry. In the last few years, Werribee's Shopping Strip on Watton Street, has successfully re-invented itself. A welcome benefit of the revamp, is the choice between old favourites, such as the belly warming Golden Grill Turkish Restaurant on Station Street and their newer upbeat neighbours.

Winning the New and Emerging Small Business Award in 2005, Coffee Pot Café epitomises the new, fresh voice of Werribee. The décor is modern and the dishes are beautifully presented. My reason for liking the place is not so much for the food as the fact that unlike its neighbours, it offers you the choice to eat your meal on a balcony overlooking Werribee River.

The food is wholesome and generous. For chatting with mates, there are tasting plates and platters of dips. Otherwise, you’ll find a nice variety of focaccias, stir fries, salads and your average pub style meals, like chicken parma and fishermen’s basket. You can get a main for about $15.00.

The Cajun Chicken Salad I had was fresh and tasty although I wasn’t wowed by it. My mother’s Chicken Parmigiana was massive so Mum started off by tutt tutting, 'Oh I don't know how I'm going to eat all of that' afterwhich she promptly demolished the dish. While my mind was still on the food, Mum gestured toward a couple across from us. ‘Those two don’t belong to each other’, she said (in Dutch, thankfully). I’m obviously not the only one who thinks of this is a cosy place to escape.

The service was speedy although in my experience I wouldn’t say it was particularly child friendly. Child size meals are not offered and having asked for one, I was met with lemons.

Having said that, our tastebuds were won over by coffee that is both smooth and aromatic, guaranteeing my bottom at their tables in the future. Come to think of it - the name of the establishment was probably what drew my attention in the first place.