I’ve temporarily relocated to the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne for the next couple of months and one of the first orders of business was to compile a shortlist of cafes and restaurants to visit whilst I’m living in the area. I was absolutely delighted to find that I was staying only several hundred metres away from Bella Sistas. This cafe regularly appears on one of my friend’s Facebook page, and it was time to put the intrigue to rest.
As I walked into the cafe, I decided to sit by the open front windows to take advantage of the unusually warm breeze and look out onto the street. I was enthusiastically greeted by owner Pino, who promptly took my coffee order and made sure that I had a menu and the Saturday Herald Sun to read. Two ticks and I hadn’t even ordered breakfast.
As I was pondering over the menu, Pino came over and suggested that the roast beetroot and avocado with salmon and poached egg on the daily specials menu was worth considering. I had already settled upon the Egg Roti for breakfast but the power of persuasion was too much. I reasoned that as I was now living just around the corner, it was very likely that I would return to sample most of items on the breakfast menu, but the beetroot and avocado dish was a limited opportunity.
As I ordered breakfast, Pino cracked a joke that he had finally got rid of the last of this dish and I couldn’t help but wonder what I had let myself in for. When my breakfast arrived, I need not have worried about freshness or taste. The beetroot was cooked beautifully and delicately dressed with olive oil and fresh dill, baby spinach, cubed avocado and a hint of lemon. There were generous servings of smoked salmon on the toast and on top of the salad, and I was extremely grateful that the egg was poached to my specifications.
I had just finished my skinny latte, when Pino magically appeared again and asked if I needed another coffee. This place was too good to be true! My first foray into a new neighbourhood and I already found a place I wanted to come back to, again and again.
And two weeks later, I did return. After a trip to Singapore for work, I arrived home early on a sunny Saturday morning and after a quick nap, I headed back to Bella Sistas for a late breakfast. As I walked into the cafe, I couldn’t see Pino, but I went through the cafe and all the way outside to discover a courtyard area with an eclectic array of chairs, tables and vinyl lounges.
Looking through the specials, I chuckled when I saw that the beetroot and avocado dish had since been removed. With lots of interesting dishes such as Japanese okonomiyaki pancakes to try, I settled on the Middle Eastern eggs.
I couldn’t believe the spectacular colours on this dish when it arrived. Roasted cherry tomatoes with fresh, generous servings flat leaf parsley, interspersed with labna cooked to almost a creamy ricotta cheese consistency. Poached eggs with brilliant yellow yolk, topped with a homemade dukkah spice mix and soft, turkish bread. It was definitely the dish du jour. The only thing I was in want of, was a cup of coffee and that proving to be a challenge for the staff on duty.
But what about the Egg Roti? My parents came to stay with me a week later and so I took them to Bella Sistas for breakfast. The cafe was so busy that we wondered whether we would get a table, however Pino was back in charge and we were soon seated. When I came time to order, I ignored the specials and selected the Egg Roti, saving the best of the best until last.
Warm, soft roti bread was easy to tear and eat all on its own. With a generous serving of creamy scrambled eggs, the standout aspect of the dish was the melted cheese over the bacon, eggs and roti. The sweet, savoury and spiced caramelised onion mixture reminded me of barbeque sauce but infinitely better and absolutely delicious. A breakfast worth the wait.