Restorative, my arse. That was what my yoga instructor said about jumping to and from ‘down faced dog’ pose a dozen or so times. Harumph. Sure, sure, my insomnia is practically non-existent thanks to yoga but something was missing.
Brunch, that’s restorative.
Tristan gloated about his breakfast at De Clieu while I groaned and heaved into the car for a trip to my old ‘hood and Auction Rooms. The first time I went, I wasn’t really drinking coffee. This time, I was armed with a little bit of knowledge and probably more curiosity than was good for me. Something about ‘Andrew Kelly’…’third-wave’ etc.? Whatevs. Reading tantalising reviews (Melbourne Gastronome, I’m pointing an accusatory finger at you) was only going to teach me so much: you’ve got to visit and get your figurative hands dirty.
Woah, Auction Rooms was seriously busy but efficient. Enter a cliché about well-oiled machines here. Truly, the staff made their jobs look effortless. There was one fellow in the kitchen whose sole job looked to be pumping out a constant supply of poached eggs. I know, I know – it’s their job and all but still: impressive.
Tristan was pretty much ordered to get the pork knuckle sandwich by a couple of foodies via Twitter and being the obedient lad that he is, that was what he got. Tender meat coupled with the sourness of saffron-yellow pickled cauliflower. He said it reminded him of a similar such sandwich being served at a place I won’t mention due to conflict of interest (though I hope to secure a guest reviewer for it sometime soon).
Under the pretence of ‘healthy’, I decided to avoid a meat-based dish (though I must confess to rather enjoying a diet made up of much less meat) and went with the ‘counter bid’ – a bed of parmesan polenta, with wild sauteed mushrooms and baby spinach stacked on top then finished with salsa verde and mascarpone. I chose to have poached eggs, as offered.
‘Egads, the poached egg soldier was fallible: the first one was a tad overdone. However, redeemed with the second one which was perfect! The hint-of-cheesy polenta was delicious, being perfectly cooked and not at all stodgy. It soaked up the juice of the mushrooms wonderfully. Don’t rule it out, omnivores, it’s just as delish as meat.
Judging by Melbourne Gastronome’s reviews, it looks like the ‘counter bid’ is their nickname for the vegetarian brunch option. I rather like that the name stays, but the actual dish changes. Clever!
Of course, because coffee is a major strength of the Rooms, it’s imperative to try it out. When we visited, the Kenyan Oreti was on offer as a syphon. Both of us did try their house blend, affectionately named the Candyman. This was recommended to us by a staff member before trying out their single origins.
Perhaps we did get slightly more attentive treatment after they saw the size of Tristan’s…camera, but they did forget right at the beginning to take our drinks orders as promised when they told us to wait for seats. A very minor detail. The fellow at the door was most efficient and even told us just how long we’d have to wait before we could order food. In any case, don’t be put off by how busy Auction Rooms is – definitely worth the wait. I look forward to more weekend restorative treatment when yoga has ‘failed’ me!
Wow, you really seem to know your coffee! : )
Been there a couple of times for brunches and dinner. Always had a good meal. It’s great how the staff can remain good natured despite having such brisk business.
I’m curious to try the coffee at Fandango, a much smaller place a few doors down.
I don’t know that much about coffee but I really want to learn more so have been paying attention to the single origins I drink 🙂 oh yes, I love Fandango too! It’s much smaller and can sometimes be hard to get a table.
Auction Rooms is my local and I love it there 🙂 The food sometimes doesn’t wow me – eg I wasnt too keen on the polenta/mushroom dish but the coconut stuffed French toast is killer.
The service is always top notch and they’re always friendly and efficient. Good local to have!
Ooh yes, a wonderful local to have! Will have to give the French toast a try. Hopefully I can visit in the not too distant future again.
I LOVE Auction Rooms! Great food at great prices (and I hear the coffee’s good, but I’m not a coffee drinkier) and interesting decor. If only it was easier to get to from my place!
I think I’m in love after the pork knuckle sandwich.
You are most correct about the coffee being excellent. Fun fact, Andrew Kelly (owner of Auction Rooms) is one of only 6 Australians to be a ‘q grader’ – the top certification offered to coffee tasters: http://tinyurl.com/23bhaog.
Oh yes, these folks know their coffee! I really miss living close to Auction Rooms…it’s much further away for me! And yeah, the food is lovely. It’s a gorgeous place – I always notice different quirky things about the decor each time I go.