I stumbled upon Third Wave late one Friday evening while I was half-heartedly flicking through my Urbanspoon app and wondering where I should have breakfast in the morning. I had been thinking about all the bargains I needed to grab at Aldi and at the Prahran Market so as I looked at cafés in the area, my interest was piqued when I saw a beautiful picture of cheese blintzes, just like the ones my Baba used to make.
Finding cafés that offer blintzes on their menu is a rare treat, so I made note of the address and set off down Chapel Street. Third Wave is located in Cato Street, a nondescript side street located near the Woolworths supermarket. With a fitness studio directly opposite, it is a unique place to find a café. It’s nice to walk in and find plenty of space and choices where to sit. The café has a living wall at one end and full length windows to the left and bright touches of orange reflected in the menus and crockery to add a bit of glamour to the industrial décor.
After eating at different cafés every Saturday morning, when you look through the menu, it almost becomes predictable and while I went with the express intent of ordering the Cherry Cheese Blintzes, it was refreshing to see such a varied menu. There was a dedicated paleo section, a number of Russian dishes and several house specialities. For five minutes, I struggled to decide with all of my favourite breakfast dishes on the menu – Should I have the ricotta pancakes with caramel sauce? Ooh, what about the creamy orange French toast? No, wait, they have house cured salmon with brioche and poached egg! But what about the blintzes? … Thankfully someone came and took my order and I managed to babble out that I would like the blintzes for breakfast.
The blintzes looked fabulous and were beautifully presented with a cherry sauce accompaniment. My heritage is Russian and my grandmother was an amazing cook who made fantastic blintzes with ricotta or quark cheese that she had made herself, so inevitably my mind and palate attempts to draw a comparison. The blintzes were great but nothing like my Baba’s and I paused to remind myself that this dish is its own unique offering and interpretation of a classic component of traditional Russian cuisine.
The crepes were thin and light but what was surprising was that the creamy filling was really cold inside. Usually, the cheese filling is warm – it wasn’t unpleasant, just unexpected. The filling was pink, with large chunks of fresh dark black cherries mixed throughout the cream cheese mixture. With a smooth creamy texture, the filling wasn’t sweet to taste, with the cherry sauce providing additional moisture for the crepes and a touch of natural sweetness to the filling. With two large crepe parcels filled with cream cheese, the portions are very generous, so don’t make any plans for lunch!
It’s not often that I frequent the same café but with so many delectable things on the menu, I felt obliged to return and try something else. So this morning, I struggled with the same dilemma – sweet or savoury? Pancakes or French toast or savoury with a touch of sweet Brioche? I’m a sucker for ricotta pancakes and when the menu description makes specific mention that the pancakes are very fluffy, I feel obliged to test this assertion.
I think I nearly gasped at the sheer size of this dish, with two large thick pancakes drizzled with a rich brown caramel sauce and ice cream. I will be the first to admit that these are the best ricotta pancakes that I have ever had – fluffy, with the pancake batter perfectly cooked and visible chunks of moist, thick ricotta cheese mixed throughout. The caramel sauce wasn’t too thick or sweet and my initial thought was that there may be too much sauce on the plate but the thick pancakes seemed to balance the quantity. It was nice to have a bit of crunch of pistachio with the creamy ice cream which was slowly melting into the caramel sauce. There were bite sized chunks of cooked apple, not too many portions but just enough to lend some sweetness and balance the flavours and textures. I think what I liked best about the pancakes was the slightly oily crust that had formed on the outside when cooking which was delicious. I have tasted ricotta pancakes that had a inedible burnt crust; some that were a gooey uncooked mash inside; or ones that were so thin that could have been used as a Frisbee and had a notable lack of ricotta in its substance. To my mind, it is an achievement to get all of these elements perfectly balanced so undoubtedly the best ricotta pancakes I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.
Next week might be the third wave at Third Wave!