When I moved to Melbourne six years ago, I had the romantic notion that on the weekends, I would jump onto a tram or train, and travel to places and suburbs that I had never been to before and discover the city. I didn’t want to say that I had lived in Melbourne, but only be familiar with a very small part of it. There have been on occasions, times where I have been able to do just that and explore an area that is unfamiliar to me and enjoy discovering somewhere new, but with weekend routines and commitments combined with the privilege of having so many wonderful places to eat within walking distance of where I live, I’ve let my adventurous spirit have a little bit of a rest.
That is, until now. The other night I realised that whilst I have friends who live in Brighton, I am not familiar with the area or have really eaten there. So with a destination in mind, I jumped on the Sandringham line and took a trip of discovery. Getting off at the Middle Brighton station, there is a café called Track Three Espresso, which is literally a metre from the train platform. The café was extremely busy and looked like it was the place to be, with a small queue of people waiting for a table, although I decided to keep walking and see what else I might find.
Across the road, I could see another busy café called “White Rabbit” with an inviting outdoor dining area, large canvas umbrellas and white wooden chairs, although once inside it seemed to be more of a bistro or restaurant than a café. The place was almost full with groups of friends catching up over coffee and young families enjoying breakfast together, however I managed to find a vacant table down the back and sat down to take in the surroundings and look at the menu.
There were lots of surprises in terms of breakfast options on the menu, with exotic savoury focussed dishes such as spiced coated sardines, fritters with goats cheese, a breakfast bruschetta and burrito on offer, and even moussaka. I have fond memories of my Mum making scotch eggs for dinner as a child, so I ordered the Walnut Eggs, which comprised of walnut spiced crumbed eggs, kataifi nest, kasundi, fresh herbs pickled cauliflower, house cured bacon and buttered fried solders.
When my breakfast arrived, it looked like the Easter bunny had arrived earlier than expected with two witlof leaves masquerading as rabbit ears. With a generous serving of bacon on the plate, it was cooked well and relatively lean with the fat and rind removed, so it was easy to eat and enjoy and was not too crispy. There was a lot of kasundi relish at the bottom of the plate, which was full of roasted tomato flavour. The toast was great, although in hindsight, I wish I had eaten it first before it fell victim to the sea of kasundi. The eggs had been hard boiled and coated in a thin crust of walnut, spices and flour and although they were the feature of the dish, it was hard to detect any real flavour and there wasn’t a textural element. The standout component of the dish for me, was the lightly pickled cauliflower florets, shredded red cabbage and rocket salad which formed a colourful and delicious salad within the kataifi nest. It was fresh and full of flavour and provided the crunch that the dish needed. The kataifi nest, which looked spectacular, was a clever addition however it had an overwhelming taste of vegetable oil so it remained on the plate.
While the barista may not win any awards for coffee art, my latte was delicious. The service at White Rabbit was good considering how busy it was. I was lucky enough to have been looked after by someone who was attentive and doesn’t mind engaging with the customers, although another team member dropped by my table later and silently deposited my second coffee without a sound, so it’s hard to make a definitive statement in that regard. White Rabbit is situated right next to the railway line and there is the occasional loud rumble of the train either coming into or leaving the station, so don’t sit too close to the wall if you don’t like unexpected surprises!