Photopost: Robocog cafe

249 Riley St, Surry Hills (Sydney)
Phone: (02) 9281 2880

Caveat: this visit was in January 2012!

Robocog Cafe on Urbanspoon

A Thousand Blessings

251 Highett St, Richmond
Phone: apparently they don’t have one?

I don’t remember much about this place, apart from the fact there was absolutely no chilli in my omelette, despite it being a listed ingredient in the menu. Hence this is basically a post where the photos do the talking. I remember the place was busy – it was a Sunday afternoon – and the fitout is a little kitschy-cute. Firemen from the nearby station frequent the place, if that sways you at all. I’m looking at you, Bryan.

A Thousand Blessings on Urbanspoon

Macau Cheong Fun Joint

Big props go to Petite Crystal of My Little World for posting about this place. Not really knowing where to go for food in Macau, I googled ‘macau breakfast’ and came up with a great entry on her blog.

So following her advice, @eatnik and I went down to Senado Square, and followed the map to Rua Dos Mercadores (see map below). About 20 metres from the intersection with Ave de Almeida Ribeiro, is a little doorway to a laneway called Patio do Cotovelo.

Inside, is a little breakfast joint which dishes up cheong fun (steamed rice paper/noodle), brisket noodles, and congee. We were only there for the cheong fun, though the locals seemed to chowing down on everything there quite happily.

I was a little at a loss with the menu – my recognition of characters isn’t the best in the morning – until one of the little ladies working there graciously started reciting everything to me. She clearly had other customers to serve, and I was in the way! I ordered the two types of cheong fun on offer – the plain, and the zha leong (steamed rice noodle wrapped around a Chinese donut).

As you would expect from a place that is renowned for their cheong fun, the rice noodle was thin and tissue-like. The plain one unrolled at a touch, and there was none of the claggy gelatinous texture which you get at a lot of yum cha places, due usually to over-steaming, I believe?

The thin silky layer of cheong fun wrapped around the crispy donut in a good zha leong creates a great textural combination. It’s an old favourite of mine when done well, and it certainly was done well here. I like the fact that there’s also a temperature contrast here, as the donut is cold when wrapped with the hot cheong fun.

I was very lucky, because at this point, @eatnik had decided that the next week was going to be a struggle for her if she were to try to match me bowl for bowl in the eating stakes. So I got to eat more cheong fun than was equitable!

View Larger Map

Le Chien

5 Gamon St, Seddon
Phone: 9362 7333

There’s a dearth of cafes which serve a Western breakfast in Footscray. While that’s not really an issue for me – I’ll take a bowl of congee or pho, or a banh mi or some yum cha any day – I know that some people prefer a more familiar breakfast menu on the weekends. So when Ms A came to stay last weekend, we headed down to nearby Seddon for a coffee and some breakfast.

Walking down Charles St, and being unfamiliar with the area, I held out against choosing any of the cafes we passed, because I remembered driving past Le Chien and it being bustling. Always a good sign. So we rounded the corner and dodged the dog-walking locals, and pressed on the button for the automatic swinging door to open. OK, I had to mention that because it’s a novel gadget. And I’m a guy. We get distracted by things like that.

Anyway, we were seated at a table by the window. I was facing outside, with my back being buffeted by a fan which was on rather high. It was a warm morning, but I don’t think it warranted such wind speed. The couple at the table next to us asked for the fan to be turned down at one point, and were bluntly told, “No”. Which was a little odd, considering the service on the whole was quite friendly.

We ordered a couple of coffees, which took an inordinately long time to arrive, and when they did, were not fantastic. I was starting to think we should have stayed in Footscray and had ca phe sua da instead.

It was another lengthy wait – and yes, they were busy, but we’re talking around half an hour here – until our breakfast came. I ordered the avocado and tomato on sourdough, with a piggyback side order of black pudding on Ms A’s eggs on toast breakfast.

The avocado and tomato were wonderfully fresh, but the toast was incredibly hard. Peering over at the kitchen, the reason why was immediately obvious. A stack of toast was sitting by the grill, waiting to be plated. As it was busy, it probably wasn’t sitting there for that long, but then again, it did take half an hour for our food to arrive… There was also an unfortunate piece of avocado skin in the dish, which is a small thing, but not adding anything positive to my first impression.

Ms A ordered poached eggs with mushrooms – the chunk of black pudding on the plate was quickly relocated to my plate – she also found her toast hard and difficult to cut, though her eggs were well poached.

The blood pudding, for me, was the saving grace of this breakfast visit. Full of iron-y goodness, and not shy with a bold punch of salt, I’m guessing this is a great example of black pudding. It was also studded with fatty chunks of meat, and the texture was perfect – a little coarse, yet moist, sticky and melting.

Overall, I can see why Le Chien is popular, though I’m not so sure why it’s so popular! But then a lot of decent – but not great – cafes are. I’m going to try out the other places in the Charles St strip before coming back, I think.

Le Chien on Urbanspoon

Etro cafe

49 King St, Perth CBD
Phone: (08) 9481 1148

We’re back in Perth again. OK, so this was from the same trip as the one when I went to tiger,tiger. Only 24 hours later, and significantly more hungover.

Mr N and I met up with my friend Ms C, who’s a local Perth girl. We stopped in at Etro on King St, mostly because it was close to our hotel. King St in Perth is a funny place, with high end boutiques and smart cafes. Yet it all feels so pristinely clean, not unlike a movie set at Movieworld. In fact, a lot of the Perth CBD feels like that.

What shocks me, but really shouldn’t, given the warnings I’d received, and the fact the town has bloated on mining riches, is that food is generally more expensive in Perth than in Melbourne. Noticeably so. Which would be fine, if service was better. Which at Etro, it’s not. I made the comment at one stage that it’s almost justifiable that service is crappy in Perth on a Sunday, because the waitresses are the only people who have to work Sundays.

In any case, I ordered the big breakfast.

The eggs were good, but pretty much everything else on this plate was mediocre. The bacon was particularly unappetising – which is strange, given my hangover – being not quite crispy, but sort of dry.

Mr N had the omelette Marchande, which came without any bread, but was hefty enough not to warrant any. He said it was quite good, and struggled a little to finish it all.

Having already been to work that morning, Ms C was in more of a lunch mood, and ordered the calamari salad. Which seemed rather stingy with the calamari, if you ask me.

I wouldn’t really go back to Etro, apart from the fact that so many places in Perth are closed on Sundays. Still, there would have to be better options.

Etro Cafe Bistro on Urbanspoon

tiger, tiger

329 Murray St, Perth CBD
Phone: (08) 9322 8055

Recently I went over to Perth with Mr N for the weekend. Due to work constraints, Mr N got in a couple of hours later than me, so as I’ve never been to Perth before, I spent Saturday morning wandering around downtown Perth, in search of somewhere to have breakfast. The majority of places in and around the Hay St and Murray St malls were either insipid looking coffee shops fronted by al fresco dining on plastic rattan seating, or schmickity modern cafes filled with moulded plastic and chrome. And while that might be OK in a pinch, I was certain there had to be somewhere in Perth with a little more character.

So I kept walking, and down the far end of Murray St, I happened upon a little laneway, with two cafes tucked away inside.Mismatched furniture and bill posters for theatre events everywhere told me I’d found the little piece of Perth’s soul I was looking for. Little did I know that it was set up by an ex-Melburnian. It all makes sense now!

Of the two cafes in the laneway, I opted for the first one, Tiger, Tiger Coffee Bar, because Secret Garden looked a little more refined, and I was after something with a little more spunk.
I’d woken up at 4:30am that morning, to catch a 6:25am flight to Perth, so a coffee was definitely in order. I ordered a long macchiato, and was a little surprised when I was presented with this:
Apparently, long mac in Perth is the same as a strong latte in Melbourne. The waitress explained to me that a Melbourne-style long mac is referred to as a ‘traditional mac’ in Perth (or at least at tiger, tiger). All of this confusion aside, the coffee was really quite good. The waitress did offer to re-make it for me, but I felt bad for being a walking cliche – I was dressed in all black that day, so I must have been quite obviously a coffee nazi from Melbourne – so I just drank the latte.

Being my first visit to the place, I thought I’d try the eponymous ‘the tiger’ – poached eggs with avocado and tiger, tiger’s ‘rosamond sauce’ on sourdough.

This was, in a word, amazing. The eggs were perfectly poached, and the rosamond sauce, something like a chutney, with sultanas and something which was either tamarind or sour plum, still has me intrigued. The consistency was somehow heavy and jam-like, yet there appeared to be some sort of whipping or emulsification happening there, too. I’m going to have to set to work trying to recreate it soon. Its acid tang was a perfect match for the richness of the avocado and runny yolks. I also liked how the toast comes buttered, as it removes any chance of the sourdough experience being one of dry bread requiring sips of coffee to lubricate it down your throat.

If you’re after breakfast in Perth, I highly recommend tiger, tiger. Just be aware it gets pretty busy Saturday mornings (and, like most everything in Perth, it’s closed on Sundays).

Tiger, Tiger Coffee Bar on Urbanspoon

Fifi Foveaux’s

428 Crown St, Surry Hills
Phone: (02) 9380 6881

My cousin took me to this cute little cafe in Sydney last month. As we chatted away, realising that we had last caught up properly about 18 months ago, in Viet Nam, it was really heartening to see that my younger cousin had really found his feet in Sydney. It made me remember how much I love my awesome family, and that I should really try to spend more time with them. And maybe I that I should give Sydney a bit more of a chance, too. But I digress.

With vivid red walls, and seating spilling out onto the street, it was a buzzing little joint on a Sunday morning. And I was buzzing too, after my first sip of coffee; a coffee which confirmed for me that Melbourne is streets ahead in that department. Maybe I should only visit Sydney in the afternoon!

I ordered bacon and fried eggs, with rocket and avocado. It had some fun name, but I forget right now.

The eggs were a little overdone, and the sticks of toast were a bit dry. The bacon was nice and crispy, however, and the avocado provided the necessary lubrication for the whole dish. On the whole, it was on the acceptable side of mediocre. It definitely helped with the hangover which was fast developing, however!

My cousin ordered the omelette with Spanish onion and smoked salmon. Again the eggs looked a tad on the rubbery side, though the salmon looked fresh and he was very satisfied with it.

Overall, I’d have to say Fifi Foveaux was rather forgettable. It wasn’t bad, just not great. The service was rather slow, as well, though the waiters were friendly and efficient, once you could get their attention.

Fifi Foveaux's on Urbanspoon

Le Traiteur

552 Lonsdale St, Melbourne CBD
Phone: 9670 0039

I like to think I’m a morning person. Years of a nine to five job have made me almost unable to sleep in on weekends, and the skylight in my bedroom currently doesn’t help that. So when @jeroxie and the @eatdrinkstagger crew suggested an early morning breakfast at Le Traiteur – run by the people who brought you Libertine – I was quick to agree.

For some bizarre reason, I wasn’t able to sleep the night before, so I was up while it was still dark; it wasn’t the skylight’s fault this time. This turned out to be quite lucky, because it meant I was able to catch the tail end of a World Cup semi-final match! The day was looking good, and the sun wasn’t even up yet!

Braving the Winter morning, I rode into the city on my trusty bike, a little unnerved when I realised that where I was headed was half a block down from Goldfingers. Thankfully, it wasn’t SO early that the stragglers would have been leaving. The first one there, I settled myself at the big communal table, and took advantage of it to sprawl The Age out while waiting for the others.

I also had myself a coffee. Which was quite good. Please remember, peoples, that I don’t know anything about coffee, but I know what I like. It’s like my relationship with art.
It’s not a fern or a heart, but it looks sort of like a guernsey cow! A few minutes later, the others arrived, and breakfast was on like Donkey Kong!!! (Can you sense that I had finished my coffee by this stage? No, seriously, can you? I was quite excited, really. Really.)
I ordered the Croque Madame. It’s like a Croque Monsieur – ham and cheese toasted sandwich, sometimes (as here) with bechamel sauce – but with a fried egg on top. It was a bit tricky to eat, but full of oozy caloric goodness Mmmmm, bechamel. Next time I’d just go the Monsieur, as the egg wasn’t spectacular, and that might be easier to handle. I had a bit of a tough time figuring out whether to use a knife and fork, or go in with hands. For future reference, hands was the better option.

Penny (@jeroxie) had the confit egg with cured ocean trout and fromage frais on seed loaf. I snuck a quick bite of her toast with the fromage frais, which was pretty awesome – nice seed loaf – but we couldn’t really figure out how you’d get crispy edges on a confit egg if the oil doesn’t reach boiling point… perhaps there was a bit of a fry at the end?

Gem had the semolina porridge with poached fruit. It looked wonderfully smooth, and Gem was driven to wax lyrical by the poached cumquats, they evoked such strong childhood memories. Food is wonderful like that sometimes, huh?
When Tris’ pikelet stack with Calvados apples and creme fraiche arrived at the table, we all ooh-ed and ahh-ed. They looked mightily impressive. I’m sure they were too, though he didn’t say much… you’ll want to check out the Eat Drink Stagger post for more details.

I think I might have to get into the city for breakfast more often…

Penny’s take on Le Traiteur (jeroxie – consuming and addictive)
Gem’s account of breakfast (eat, drink, stagger)

Le Traiteur on Urbanspoon

Aix Cafe Creperie Salon

24 Centre Place, Melbourne CBD
Phone: 9662 2667

For the longest time, I didn’t know that Centre Place was called Centre Place. Despite the signage. In my head, it was Lunchtime Lane, and I liked that name. Of course, ignorance is sometimes bliss, but often it also keeps you from finding the good stuff. In this case, I didn’t know that Centre Place is not only abuzz at lunchtime, but also bustling for breakfast. On a brisk morning, I stopped in at Aix Creperie on my way to work.

I love pancakes, but I wouldn’t say I’m the biggest fan of crepes. Perhaps they’re a little too thin and ethereal for me. But I’ll give anything a go – twice – and after Breizoz this was pretty much make or break. A quick scan of the menu, and it was quite obvious which crepe I was going to have for breakfast.

Field mushroom and taleggio. With some spinach thrown in for good measure.

To be honest, I could have done without the spinach. Or perhaps it could just have been cooked a little longer, because it was far from wilted, and the mushrooms were a bit raw for my liking as well. I love when mushrooms have been cooked through, the earthy flavours developed, and the texture becomes more meaty. I’m not sure if it was just the style, or because they were still setting up and prepping for lunch, but I was pretty disappointed. The crepe itself was quite good, though, and I’d rate Aix better than Breizoz.

Aix Café Creperie Salon on Urbanspoon

Proud Mary

172 Oxford St, Collingwood
Phone: 9417 5930

When you move into a place, it’s a good idea to scope out what the local breakfast places are. Which place does the best eggs Benedict, and who has the best coffee? Two questions I never really asked, because I’m not a big fan of Hollandaise, and I didn’t drink coffee for six years of my adult life. Then there was the year in Viet Nam, where it was more about where do I get the best pho, and which banh mi lady had the best pate.

But times, they do change. And now I drink coffee, so it would seem. Luckily, my local happens to be Proud Mary, so I can indulge in true coffee wankery and drink my single-estate sourced Clover coffee. From a stemless wine glass no less! I think that’s the establishment’s way of telling me I should be approaching the consumption of coffee like you would approach the consumption of wine. The barista also made a point of coming over with my coffee and explaining the subtlety I should be noticing. I noticed that I could drink it without sugar, and that I didn’t get a crazy caffeine buzz with an attendant crash-bang-headache. Still, the glass is pretty.

Along with said Clover coffee, I had the ‘green eggs’, which as you can see, weren’t particularly green. They were, however, nicely soft and runny. How I like my scrambled eggs. The side of mushrooms was generous, but not particularly flavoursome.

I was with the lovely Miss K this morning, who shouted me breakfast for installing her new modem (I think we all know I got the better end of the bargain there), and she had the porridge with dates, almonds and banana. She said it was quite good – I’ve had the muesli there before, so I’m inclined to think she’s right – they know what they’re doing with grains there.

On the way out, we caught a glimpse of these great bruschetta-type-eggplant things. They looked yummy!

Proud Mary on Urbanspoon