I love how a shared love of food brings people together and that we can make new friendships simply by talking about cafés in our neighbourhood, the things we enjoy eating or discovering the latest culinary sensation in Melbourne’s thriving dining scene. When I chat with friends and colleagues about my weekend breakfast adventures, I’m extremely fortunate to be asked if I have been to such-and-such place or to be given the names of places to go and eat. On a Friday afternoon, I received an unexpected text message from my gorgeous Body Pump instructor Naomi, “you MUST check out Breakfast Thieves, cnr Rose and Gore St in Fitzroy …” When the woman who coaches me each week from the gym podium through an hour of brutal pain-searing, muscle-burning exercises instructs me to get to a café, then her wish is my command.
The beautiful sunshine and warm weather the next Saturday morning was enough to convince me that it was a perfect opportunity to catch a tram and explore new destinations. When I reached Breakfast Thieves, the tables outside were fully occupied and there were a couple of people waiting for a seat inside but I was able to be seated within a couple of minutes. Although I was a party of one, there was no objection to me being able to occupy one of the high tables set for two.
Breakfast Thieves has a slight hipster vibe but is unpretentious and laid back. The floor-to-ceiling windows along the front and side fills the indoor space with an abundance of natural light. The interior is a cosy mish-mash of white tiles, recycled timber slats, exposed brick walls and concrete blocks with bare filament lighting and stained plywood – almost an industrial warehouse meets school room décor. The vintage diamond cut glass decanters used for water and the old-fashioned wooden salt and pepper shakers add a touch of 70s retro to the eclectic mix.
Despite the busyness of the café, my coffee arrived not long after being seated. With a bold and strong flavour and expertly decorated, the coffee was delicious and served at the temperature I requested. The menu, otherwise known as the “Morning Feed”, is a collection of seven elaborately crafted dishes, complemented by “The Usual Suspects” comprising of eggs, bakery items and other sides. The sight of “My PB and J” instantly grabbed my attention when I read the description – Brioche French toast pieces served with peanut butter soil, sweetened beetroot, candied bacon, raspberry jelly and lemon curd. My mind couldn’t even imagine what that would like altogether on a plate, so naturally I ordered it.
The sweet and the savoury in unison, what arrived on my table was nothing short of a piece of art, crafted with food. Presented with a dish that resembled an edible garden, I had expected red beetroot to be included but rather there was a decorative strip of red beetroot juice smeared across base of the plate and baby golden beetroot served instead. I started with the soft cubes of sweet brioche with lemon curd, which was absolutely delicious, particularly with the sprigs of lemon balm. The dollops of sweet raspberry jelly, or jam as we prefer to call it, was also excellent and easy to mop up with toast.
The thin shards of bacon, coated with a thin layer of maple syrup, had been cooked and cooled before being served. Equally delicious, it had an interesting texture and tearing apart the hardened meat was not unlike eating beef jerky.
The homemade peanut butter was divine, although the consistency and texture could be more likened to clay than soil. Thick and moist and crunchy all at the same time, with small pieces of peanuts in the crumbled mixture, it was quite enjoyable although it did start to build up on my palate after a few mouthfuls.
The golden beetroot was naturally sweet and soft in texture. It’s inclusion wasn’t out of place with everything else presented in the dish, although at times it did taste and feel like I was eating boiled vegetables. If I could change one thing about this dish, it would be to finish off the beetroot by roasting them in the oven to keep their sweet taste and perhaps give them a crispy texture and deeper golden colour.
My breakfast was fabulous, so many flavours and textures, beautifully presented and each morsel was distinctively memorable and delicious. The next time my friend Naomi tells me to go and do something, I’m on it, tout de suite!