Foxy Brown

31 South Crescent, Northcote
Phone: 9481 4454

Tucked away in the backstreets of Westgarth along the Hurstbridge train line, is this little house-cum-cafe, which has on-and-off been a local institution for at least a decade. I met up with some friends here for brunch a while ago – one of them used to work there in an earlier, hippier incarnation, years and years ago. The current owners have been there a little over six months, and it’s certainly no hippie affair now, though the vibe and the service is certainly still warm and friendly.

Ms B and Ms L both decided to have the ‘Simply Foxy’ – a poached egg with avocado, tomato and Mungali Creek Feta on sourdough. Both enjoyed it immensely, though I’d have to say the combination of elements seemed a little on the dry side for me. In my mind, sourdough toast often needs a lot of lubricating.

Mr T – who I’m sure will appreciate that his name is shortened such, despite his lack of chunky jewellery – opted for the scrambled eggs, with a side of slow-cooked baked beans. I’m not a huge fan of baked beans, but on a brisk morning, they looked and smelled very inviting.

I had the ‘Sun’s Secret’, roasted tempeh and a fried egg on Crumb’s pumpkin sourdough with paprika relish, tahini and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Unfortunately, the tempeh was roasted a bit too much, rendering it dry and crunchy rather than soft and bean-like. Possibly bigger chunks would have been a good idea. Thankfully the paprika relish and tahini softened the dish.

I don’t usually have coffee, but it was a big day, so I did for once. Like many new cafes, Foxy Brown seems to be quite serious about its coffee (in fact, the full name of the place is Foxy Brown Espresso) offering single origin coffee with unhomogenised milk, and for those of you who know, or need to know – I personally have no idea – it’s made on a Synchro espresso machine.

All in all, it’s a pleasant place for brunch, though overall, I think the food was a little on the dry side. More sauces – or butter – please!

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The Commoner

122 Johnston St, Fitzroy
Phone: 9415 6876

Having lived in Collingwood for a year, and having been told by my housemates on a semi-regular basis that The Commoner does amazing breakfasts, I thought it might finally be time to put it to the test. I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I caught up with a friend over brunch, and neither of us could decide between the Honky sandwich or the Arabic pancake, so we decided to share both. Two-course brunch win!

The honky sandwich isn’t the most impressive looking meal, I must say. When it arrived at the table, it was immediately overshadowed by the scrumptious-looking Arabic pancake. I’m not an organic-wholefood nazi by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s rare to see sandwiches served on untoasted white bread outside of a food court or arcade cafe these days, no? However, the bread is delightfully soft, and the second you pick the sandwich up, you understand what’s going on here. These thick white pillows are there to cradle and cushion the awesomeness inside. The asweomeness is bacon, fried egg, spinach, aioli, and my personal favourite element, harissa. The flavours are all bold, and they work together beautifully. It may be Honky, but there’s nothing off-key going on here!

The Arabic pancake is similarly satisfying. The stewed apple and berries have now been replaced by lemon curd and pistachio on the menu, sadly. They added just the right amount of tartness (along with the house yoghurt) to the sweet, fluffy pancake, which itself secretly possessed hints of cinnamon and rose essence. OK, so I’ve effused enough. You get the idea; both dishes are perfectly fine choices from the brunch menu.
For a refreshing alternative to juice, I had the Vimto (also on my housemate’s recommendation) because I wasn’t quite up to the Bloody Mary that morning!

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Grand Central Cafe

253 Charman Rd Cheltenham
Phone: 9583 9998

This Cafe takes its name from the fact it’s right near the Cheltenham train station. Yes, it’s one of *those* cafes, which has a slightly clever name, and delivers pretty standard cafe fare. Except the quality is rather good. I’ve been here a couple of times now, and whether it be big breakfast, pancakes, focaccias or coffee, it doesn’t disappoint. Except for the smoothies – they’re a bit on the small size. I’m tempted to sleep in next weekend, so I can justify having the lasagna for brunch. It stands about 10cm tall!

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Fuel Espresso Bar & Cafe

4 Margaret St, Moonee Ponds
Phone: 9375 4499

I don’t go out for breakfast on weekends as much as I used to. I think living for a while in Viet Nam changed my tastes somewhat in terms of what I like to eat in the morning. I still really miss the fact I could run downstairs from my place and grab a banh mi (Vietnamese pork roll) or some xoi cuc Ha Noi (Hanoi-style sticky rice with chrysanthemum) or even a quick bowl of pho.

So when Mr N suggested we go out for breakfast last Saturday, I wasn’t sure what to get from the menu. I settled on a breakfast pizza, with salami, bacon, mushrooms and spinach. And yes, that IS indeed a poached egg with hollandaise sauce on the top. Given the hung-over state I was in, this pizza didn’t just hit the spot, it nailed it.

Mr N had the (massive) omelette with cherry tomatoes and chorizo. I didn’t try any, but the omelette looked very fluffy, and the chorizo was sufficiently spicy enough to challenge Mr N this early in the day.

The service was quite attentive, and though the meals did take about 25 minutes to come out, they had warned us of this in advance, and it seemed fair enough, as the place was very busy.

Fuel Espresso Bar & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cheese kransky at Birdman Eating

A waitress mistake (I think) left us waiting quite a while for our food, watching others who had arrived after us receive their food first. Which is always irritating. But once my breakfast came, I forgot abot the wait. The kransky itself wasn’t amazing, and the poached eggs were good, but the apple (and beetroot? rhubarb?) compote as well as the hot potato and cauliflower slaw were great. Another example of why choosing a dish based on the accompaniments/sides is often a good move!

Birdman Eating, Gertrude St, near the corner of Smith st.

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