By AJ Place
As we settle into the inner west, we are slowly exploring what’s on offer in our local area for eateries, food, shopping, drinking – bottle shops, bars and general good times. What we’ve discovered is; there’s a whole lot going on. This is a very good thing for people who like to eat and drink.
Being fundamentally lazy and inclined to hang on the couch in the evenings, our experience of the dinner offerings are limited. We have been known to substitute brunch and dinner on a Saturday, for late afternoon cocktails and beer at Lay Low Bar, accompanied by dips and souvlaki from the adjacent Brotherhood Yiros and Grill. A blissful combination, we didn’t know we were missing in our lives.
Weekend brunch is our standard go to and choosing an ideal spot on the day, always has a few considerations. Is there just the two of us or is it a family outing? Is scary Adelaide daughter here, insisting we venture beyond Seddon, or can we just pop around the corner? How’s the indecisive Melbourne weather looking; will it hold out long enough for a preferred outside table or should we focus on inside seating options? Do we actually have any clue where the suburb is?
On weekends we’re generally too idle to be inconvenienced by the lycra crowd; they’re usually home and showered by the time we head out. I’m not a ‘sit on a stool’ type chick so we look for places with chairs. If I’m on my own during the week, I can usually find a comfy seat, with a side of people watching at The Little Man cafe in Seddon. Being indoors only and quite small, it’s often busy on weekends. If we’re keen for a serve of their Tang Tang chicken strips with Japanese dressing slaw, seating availability can usually be assessed by the huddle waiting on the footpath.
Boma Coffee in Yarraville, by the people from Kodama Coffee in Williamstown, is another little cafe that is usually pumping on weekends with super friendly staff who deftly wiggle their way around the compact space. There is some outside seating. We try and optimise our chances of getting a table by aiming for that early afternoon window; when the morning brunch crowd have moved on and the afternoon ‘want breakfast but it’s lunchtime’ group are trickling in. I’m not great at waiting for a table but the chilli scrambled eggs are worth some patience.
Our first attempt to try the very good looking, newly opened, Gathered Cafe at the Dream Factory in Footscray, was unsuccessful. On this Friday lunch time, the line up for takeaway coffees and those waiting for tables prompted us to wait a few weeks for things to settle. On a weekday mid- morning, we easily secured a table. The menu appears carefully curated, covering differing dietary requirements and tastes; poached eggs, avocado on toast, egg and bacon roll, granola, a creamed corn dish, steamed potato with raclette and toasties, supported by a daily specials list, kids menu and a display cabinet of salads, sandwiches and sweets. My companion felt it would have been a better lunch option than brunch, simply based on our personal preferences. There’s a broad range of hot and cold drink choices, including a selection of sparkling Lo-Cal Sodas from my favourite tonic maker, Melbourne brand Strangelove; the Seven Seeds coffee was excellent.
The Duchess of Spotswood on Hudsons Road serves St Ali coffee and offers a fairly expansive menu, accompanied by a specials board, of interesting flavour combinations for both the sweet and savoury tooth. With a nod to its royal title and the occasional celebrity, dishes include, The Prince of Wales; chive scrambled eggs and smoked salmon served on a pearl barley waffle or the Britney Spears, an asparagus omelette with ham, corn, manchego and avocado. There are a few different pork options and while they don’t take my non pig eating fancy, my brunch buddies loved the Pork Royale Benny. Kids are well catered for with their own menu and a relaxed outdoor courtyard with space for prams and pets. They have just announced plans to open for dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights during daylight saving.
Before heading home, a quick skip and a jump up the road, leads to Candied Bakery and an irresistible array of breads, cakes and pastry deliciousness.
With so many options to brunch, lunch, nibble and dine across the inner west, we’ve barely scratched the surface in our first year here. I’m a creature of habit and quite easily wooed by good food, wine and coffee but in the end, it’s always the sense of welcome that brings me back.
We’ve knocked off a few early favourites, while others have the warmth exuded by good service down in spades.