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.


Dollop said...

No portugese custard tart?

elaine said...

Is it sacreligeous to confess that I'm not that into them?

(They have a selection of muffins/hedgehog/genre things too)

sublime-ation said...

I love the heavy-eye make up comment. Being a born and bred Northsider I know exactly what you mean.
Although nowadays I get too depressed when I visit my former home of Brunswick St, cause it's all designer threads, sunnies and ironed hair.
My eye make up on a Sunday morning is there from the night before, and I don't really fancy having to clean it off and re-apply full make up just so I can have my eggs.

I love Portugese tarts, anything with custard rocks my boat, not such a huge fan of muffins, hedgehogs etc.

obtuse-a said...

its been depressing watching carlisle st go the way of Brunswick st. there is something - as you put it - jarring about the whole fitout, the bleeding boga-sexualism from the blandified acland st up the road.
i got real tired of the Lana Turner wannabes, bad service [how do you know i'm not going to make you famous??!!], and mundane suburban food disguised as nu-cool

Anonymous said...

god bless the portugese custard tarts, oh how I wish Benedykt was still open, they had the best by far, mmmmmmmm. Hole in the wall, good anytime except weekends, and yes it is a good place to watch the world go by

fluffy said...

I am THRILLED to see my coffee rating system being utilised and hope to see more of this. TOP SHOW.

MelbourneGirl said...

this place has great turkish toast, with hard proper butter and vegemite, that you self apply. the coffee tastes good but i have had problems in the past with a top-heavy crema, ie about half the latte foam the rest coffee.

and the attitude of some of the waiters; fucked.

good point jaded, how do they know i really am just a frumpy uncool housewife? i could be a talent spotter dressing down?


MelbourneGirl said...

by the way, hard to get a table there too.

just walk across the street and up the road a bit, under the train line overhead. there are a group of three cafe/restaurants on the right. go into the first one, can never remember the name. gattaca? with the nicest man in the world there, and food to die for. and there used to be a spunk with dreadlocks doing coffee. with the cutest grin.

have i said all this already on this blog?

nevermind. try there. you'll like it.

Chai said...

Ummm... I've not worked out the difference between those egg tarts you get at yum cha and the portugese custard tarts, apart from slight cosmetic differences. Doofus?

elaine said...

nearest the station or furthest from, mg?

Furthest (closest to Westbury st) is Gattaca. They have strange toilets.

The one closes to the station keeps changing it's name. I like the courtyard at this one.

MelbourneGirl said...

um elaine if you go under the rail overpass and you are walking towards westbury, you pass a newsagent, an asian grocer and then you get to the first of three cafe/restaurants. it's that one. it's more open and spacious than the other two, and has a great chef. not sure about a courtyard though.

Husky Nutmeg said...

The Glasses are okay for coffee but cups are still important. These days, when I take my parents anywhere I have to ask especially for a cup with a handle because they cannot manage to hold a glass.

I miss Balaclava. I lived there when I was little. It has changed a lot since then but some things needed changing. Now I know where the top rated coffee lives. Thanks for that.

Djali said...

I have another request.

But first: Thanks for all the previous advice on good duck eating places, it was all very much appreciated. However, somehow I got distracted somewhere in chinatown and I ended up having my first duck in Post Mao Cafe, not one of the places recommended, but hey, it's called Post Mao Cafe. It was most glorious and charming. and since then I've never looked back.

Now, my request: My boyfriend has a Japanese exchange student staying with him and his family at the moment, we were thinking it would be nice to take him out to dinner, but, we are stuck for ideas. Any suggestions.

sublime-ation said...

What kind of food? Area? Price range?

Djali said...

Hmm, good questions. We're not picky about what kind of food, but, maybe not Japanese. Price range: anywhere between $12 - $25 per main. Location: Anywhere around Brunswick, Carlton, Fitzroy or the city center is most preferable but we are prepared to travel for something special.

sublime-ation said...

Hmmm. Here are some of my faves off the top of my head. No Asian ones so they can try something diff.
Italian: Grossi Florentino's Cellar Bar, Bourke St. Best pasta in Melbourne, and not nearly as pricey as the restaurant. Or for authentic Italian home kitchen vibe complete with arguments about what makes a good bolognese, the kitchen at Pellegrinis. Enoteca Silena, Lygon St Carlton NORTH. And the original, Donnini's on Lygon St, looks fancy but the food is simple Italian home style, and yum. Italy 1 is good, as is the one across from it, and Roberto's in Richmond. Universita on Lygon do some nice pastas too.
For yummy cakes etc. Brunetti's (Carlton/City), although keep in mind Japan already has some of the best pastry chefs in the world.
Moroccan Soup Bar, as reviewed on WDCOF.
Momo (city), it's sister Zum Zum (Rathdowne).
Ladro in Gertrude for pizza and Enoteca across the road for wine and French cheese, sausage etc. Dantes up the road is nice too.
Movida (city) for Spanish (worth booking), Canary Club (Melb. Place) if there's too long a wait (try their prawns, and you can lounge upstairs on the day beds).
Rathdowne Tavern is good too. Haven't been to Taxi yet, heard it's good.
The pizza at Bimbo, Brunswick St, is nice and cheap, although don't go there on a weekend night.
Also Babka there is great for breakfast/lunch.
Also Greek and Turkish restaurants, anyone got any suggestions?

Liz & baby Joel said...

Re the tarts..

From my recollection, the difference between the the yum cha variety and the portugese is all in the pastry. I think you can get such yum cha tarts in the asian bakery in Little Burke St.

I could be making this up but I think the pastry a la portugese is much flakier. And the portugese you get in cafes always seems to be served cold, whereas I seem to remember the yum cha experience - at least in the restaurant - was warm??? Both are yummy to the custard tart lover, but yes it is my contention that there's a difference!

Of course, it's still hard to go past the nutmeg laden good ol' custard tart from the ubiquitous Ferguson Plaire. ...for voluminous custard that is.

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