Tag Archives: cafe

an unlikely but brilliant combination

Breakfast and beer.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds, as amply demonstrated by the two beermen.tv breakfasts, one of which was held this year as part of Good Beer Week.

Having missed the Royal Mail Hotel’s breakfast offerings (first world sob!) and needing to hit the road after a late morning check-out, I suggested that Daylesford’s famous Breakfast & Beer might be a worthy detour before hitting the city life, where perpetual city kids like me can go nuts everytime they see ducks fly…

Daylesford is indeed quite the oasis, it’s picturesque, has an ample amount of places for rich city folks to spend their dollars at getting in touch with their inner selves and then finding charming trucs at charming antique shops, like this and naturally going ga-ga over them:

Enid Blyton's The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat

Oh, but the lovely little Beetle outside the shop was also very noteworthy – all beaten-up but still so colourful, literally and figuratively.

Oh, but we’re losing our purpose! Breakfast & Beer.

The two dogs in the stained glass window have some significance to the venue (either currently owned or formerly owned), but I forget exactly which – apols.

To say the owner was ecstatic at my beer choices (apparently, Tris had made the executive decision that I had to choose for both of us…pressure, yikes!) was an understatement. He even snuck a straw-sip of this beauty, the Beer Here Hopfix. I blame him not one bit. My beer strategy was to choose one beer that matched our food and one that matched the chilliness. This one was for the dishes we ordered. It is bitter, hoppy, weed-like goodness. I’ve smelt weed before…in fact just the other night at the Faust gig it was great to see some oldies enjoying a spliff or several?

Onto the food – if you want deliciously prepared comfort food, then this is the place to come and get it, truly. I chose a serving of the roasted Lancashire sausages with bread and butter pickles, with a fried egg on toast, garnished with some rocket. Hop-strong beers are well suited to fatty meat-type things like sausages and pork belly (as well as curry) – a good tip I learnt from Ben Kraus, Bridge Road’s brewer: a tip-off I’m forever grateful for. Also, juiciest sausages ever!

Tristan chose the honey baked Istra ham, Brussels sprout bubble and squeak with horseradish. My mouth is watering, just looking at the photo.

Our season-appropriate beer was the Emerson’s London porter. Whinge as you all may about the unusually cold snap in Melbourne’s late autumn before the onset of winter proper, you cannot deny that it is consummate porter and stout enjoying weather. Drink up that liquid roastiness! I love the glass they served it to us in too. Reminds me of some of my parents’ 70s Cristal d’Arques wine glasses which are probably older than I am and made the migration from England to here!

If you were really in doubt on just how extensive the beer range is at this delicious, quirky little place, I beseech you to view the photographic evidence below. There’s an excellent range of good local and international brews to whet your whistle and I can assure you, deciding what to order was not particularly easy.

The owner and staff are passionate and enthusiastic and scores of locals known to them came in and out as we dined. An excellent sign, I’d wager! My lit nerd curator girlfriend keeps ‘threatening’ to take me to Daylesford next time I visit her in Ballarat and I dare say I will let her next visit and truthfully, Daylesford is not too far from Melbourne either.

When possible, Breakfast & Beer support local causes and produce. When chatting to the staff and owner, I got the impression they love to be active within the community and not necessarily related to just food or beer-specific activities. Their coffee is a local Coffee Basics Arabica blend, roasted in Castlemaine despite my being obsessed with their otherwise branded coffee cups: simple things do indeed amuse simple minds.

Before…

Map coffee mug & saucer

And after – an obsessive-compulsive sufferer’s* worst dream:

an out-of-line Map coffee mug & saucer

I much preferred the beautiful old world ceramic glasses used for lattes, as modelled by a very dapper albeit slightly tired-looking Tristan.

an unusual but gorgeous ceramic latte glass as modelled by a man of the same calibre

What a wonderful bookend to a fabulous weekend away in the country.

Breakfast & Beer on Urbanspoon

*and no, not to make light of any such mental illness, OCD is hard shit, folks

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the prelude to romance is in the eclectic

Most romantic weekend ever.

Oh wait. We’re not there yet.

A stopover was needed for stretching of legs and general refreshment. I was trying to be the best girlie girl I could be just for this particular weekend. Alas, this did mean that Tris drove to and from our exciting romantic destination.

Anyway, our stopover: a charming little place called Eclectic Tastes in Ballarat, near Lake Wendouree. If you’re wondering why no smile on my dial, it’s because I was cold and determined. But more cold. It was freaking freezing that day and I was chilled to the bone merely from hopping out of the car to the cafe’s door!

It was that dead time when you can’t always be certain when you get to an eatery that you’ll get food because the kitchen might be closed, or it’s too close to closing time and indeed we did arrive here at that very time: no main menu for us.

Fortunately, there were still counter snacks and definitely the usual array of hot and cold drinks. Tris and I shared a selection of things though each got a Portuguese custard tart…

…and divvied up a slice of quince tart and a savoury muffin with pine nuts, spinach and fetta.

Served hot with melty butter, Tris, the savoury muffin sceptic (gasp!) was a convert.

The place’s true eclecticism is really reflected in its décor. Littering the walls and cabinets, you can see a myriad of trinkets, old record covers, adorned chairs and tables. Our tablecloth was blue and white gingham which then had a horse complete with brown mane and hooves cross stitched onto it! I was indie-girl (read: predictable) giddy with glee.

And people say they don’t use Urbanspoon anymore – us two tragics still do. I picked this place because it sounded okay and seemed to have a high rating from a sizeable proportion of people. It pays to take a chance sometime. I’ll be back to sample their menu proper when next I visit my favourite lit nerd girlfriend who works as a curator at nearby Sovereign Hill, I’m sure of it.

But, as David Tennant’s Doctor would say, allons-y! Fortified for the moment, it was time to leave the warmth of the lovely cafe and its staff and hit the road again, all the while blasting some of my more tragic DJ podcasts given radio stations were slim pickings once properly en route to our destination.

Eclectic Tastes on Urbanspoon

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a world first?! a real-time review…

Given I have nothing better to do than review places on my Saturday mornings (who am I kidding, eating food and writing about it is pretty damn rad), I thought I’d mix it up. I’d try a potentially new and novel approach to a review, a real-time review! While I’m not live streaming my breakfast — even I’m not that inane — I thought I’d start reviewing the place I’m having breakfast at while I’m eating said breakfast.

So, here I am, in Dexter cafe in Clifton Hill, with a cafe latte, It’s 9:53am. This is now my second time here, both visits due to the proximity of Ms G’s yoga class. The first time I came in I was really taken by the staff. Friendly and attentive, without being overbearing or ‘hovering’ over your table. Unfortunately the this visit was brief, and I only had time for a coffee.
So when Ms G asked me to drive her to yoga and she suggested I pop back into Dexter for some nosh I was taken by the idea.

Now, back to the narrative. I arrived, dumped my crummy MacBook with the five minute battery-life, and asked where the power points were. As you can see from this photo, I was literally next to them. However in true Tristan form, I had missed them completely. Coffee was ordered and delivered with a smile. A really solid latte using Coffee Supreme was delivered.

Before the bringer of life (aka my coffee toting waiter) ducked off, I ordered the chorizo, asparagus, avocado and tomato salsa with balsamic vinegar. As I type these sentences I am eating it. Really quite nice. All the right texture contrasts are present: soft and slightly spicy chorizo, crunchy asparagus and creamy avocado. The avocado’s (in cahoots with the poached egg) creaminess really cut through the bite of the balsamic vinegar. I will be getting this again.
Whilst in the middle of my self-indulgent blog post spree a fellow diner singled my dish out, “What’s he having, it looks really good!”. Her waiter then lovingly described the dish and offered to remove the chorizo for her (to make it vegetarian). While in this day and age of vegan/tarians and food allergies, menu variations shouldn’t be hard to come by. Despite this I am  still surprised by the irritation some diners can be greeted with by venue owners, treating some customers as inconveniences rather than the valuable word-of-mouth advertisers they can be. I am pleased to say there wasn’t a trace of this at Dexter.

Now that I’d managed to take up an hour and a half eating ‘n’ typing, Ms G had arrived. She ordered the smoked salmon and asparagus with a grapefruit hollandaise. I have my suspicions her choice was based on recent hankerings for fish, but that’s another story. Gem wasn’t as taken with her dish as I was mine — not sure of the freshness of the asparagus, and a being a bread ‘woosie’, found the bread a little chewy. I must agree with her that the bread was a little too chewy, but I am less bothered by something like that.

Gemma was, however most taken with Dexter’s beer choices, being predominately Victorian micro brew selection. It was a damn shame I was playing it respectable and being designated driver, else I’d be boozing it up.

A lovely friendly cafe with snappy service, that plays Radiohead (as well as some other questionable music). If you ever find yourself with time to spare on in Clifton Hill on Queens parade, pop on in.

Dexter Bar & Cafe on Urbanspoon

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