The Western suburbs of Melbourne is a melting pot of diversity, cuisines and cultures that often draws derision and unmerited criticism from those who live elsewhere. I often joke (and probably unfairly) that I need to wear my kevlar vest whenever I go and take a trip out to the “Wild West”. Yet every time I find myself out west, where most of my colleagues and friends prefer to live, I always enjoy seeing tree lined streets in and out of season, beautifully renovated homes, new and exotic places to eat and areas that I would like to take time and explore further.
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to catch up with my friends Mez and Oz, who live in the Pascoe Vale area. Oz, who would have to be my chief encourager of my food and wine adventures, suggested that we should try their local café, Ferrovia for a Saturday breakfast.
Ferrovia is located approximately 50 metres from the Pascoe Vale train station. The café is laidback, unpretentious and very popular with the locals. Looks can be deceiving as the interior is narrow and cosy with no more than half a dozen tables inside and counter seating along the front window, and a courtyard area out the back. There was a constant stream of people popping in for coffee, meals, cakes and pastries as well as the cured meats, cheeses and other gourmet items also available for purchase.
My latte was first rate and all too easy to drink. Ferrovia takes enormous pride in the art of coffee making with their baristas having garnered their experience in busy cafés in Italy prior to being ensconced behind the industrial-sized coffee machine behind the bar. Although the coffee was fantastic, I’m not entirely convinced I would be so adventurous as to trade the wonders of Italy for downtown Pascoe Vale.
The breakfast menu was simple and the options appeared to be hearty with a substantial focus on dishes created with eggs.
Great minds think alike so Oz and I selected the Sweet Corn and Polenta Fritters with poached free-range eggs, sautéed baby spinach, horseradish sour cream and bacon while Mez opted for the Breakfast Bruchetta with avocado, tomato, Spanish onion, served on bread topped with poached free-range eggs and goats chevre (not pictured).
After taking our order, the waitress laid out the napkins and cutlery we were each given a large wooden handled knife with a blade that would rival that of Crocodile Dundee. I like my eggs poached hard but I didn’t realise I would need to be equipped with my own sword to get through breakfast. Wild West indeed!
We didn’t wait too long for breakfast and because I prefer my eggs hard poached it inevitably adds a little extra cooking time to my meal, but always worth the wait in my opinion. Some places I go to for breakfast tend to ignore my request, but in this case my eggs were cooked to my liking. The serving of bacon was generous and I enjoyed the way it was cooked however some might take issue with the lack of crispiness it delivered. The baby spinach was vibrant and just cooked, providing some much needed colour and another textural element to the dish.
The polenta and corn fritters were quite sizeable with chunky pieces of red pepper and corn kernels mixed throughout. Oz and I thought that perhaps the red pepper could have been diced a bit more finely as their size meant that their flavour tended to overshadow the sweetness of the corn. The talking point of the dish was the horseradish sour cream which was delicious, although a little too creamy as it didn’t have the sharp pungent bite that horseradish normally delivers. The vast quantity of polenta on the plate meant that the fritters were a little dry in places, and the horseradish cream was a much needed and tasty accompaniment which helped to provide a little extra moisture when required.
Mez’s dish looked colourful but the bruschetta mixture noticeably lacked the promised avocado and looked somewhat lost on the big white plate that it was served on. The cold bruschetta mingled with the freshly poached egg, which was considerably warmer, created a temperature differential that most of our mouths would find hard to appreciate.
The promised rain began to set in and suddenly the café became extremely busy as those eating out in the courtyard came inside for shelter and attempted to find a space to finish their breakfast. Full to the brim and having enjoyed our little catch-up, it was time for us to let the next wave of diners in to savour the delights of Ferrovia.