I had a rare opportunity to head home to Wodonga for the weekend courtesy of a dear friend’s wedding. Usually, my lovely parents will make me something delicious for breakfast before I have a chance to get up and face the world but on this occasion I wanted to go out and discover what was happening in the café scene on the Border.
When I was last in Albury at Christmas, I met my friend Rachel at “Early Bird Café” for breakfast and I was very much looking forward to going back and reliving the experience. Early Bird is a very small café with half a dozen tables outside on the street and approximately four tables inside. Unfortunately when we arrived at the café just after 10.30am, all the tables were occupied and as it was a beautiful warm sunny day, a seat outside was indeed a prized possession.
Quick as a flash, someone from the café kindly took our coffee order while we waited on the street for a table. People in the regional areas like Albury-Wodonga generally don’t queue for tables, so my family looked slightly odd loitering outside the café entrance, staring longingly at all the diners enjoying their food. You really do need to be up with the birds to secure a table!
At last, after a twenty-minute wait, a table that could accommodate a party of three was ours and with it arrived our coffees in large colourful mugs and a chance to look at the all day breakfast menu.
It was straight down to business when we finally sat down. Mum ordered the Handmade Boston baked beans with fetta and herbs on Italian sourdough toast (there was a fair bit of discussion on our table around the word “handmade” used prolifically throughout the menu versus the term “homemade”); Dad opted for the Early Bird brekky sarnie of local bacon, free range egg, vintage cheddar, handmade tomato chutney, mayo and greens and I indulged my sweet side and chose the “Baklava Style” French toast with Greek yoghurt, toasted nuts and spiced honey syrup.
We weren’t in a hurry by any means but the Early Bird café is a relatively small establishment and food and coffee orders do tend to take some time to prepare. It would have been close to an hour after arriving that it was time to check out the facilities and avoid the parking inspectors however it’s always the way – as soon as you leave the table, your meal is inevitably there waiting for you when you return.
Let me say first and foremost that this is probably one of my favourite breakfasts ever. The texture of the Turkish bread used for French toast was extremely light and fluffy – not dense and heavy like other variations. Topped with a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt and a generous sprinkle of fresh pistachios and flaked almonds, the whole presentation of this dish was visually spectacular with the nuts providing the much-needed crunch factor when paired with the soft bread and yoghurt. The drizzle of the honey and cinnamon syrup across the top, was the right consistency and quantity and perfect for mopping up with any leftover bread. Yum, yum, yum!
Mum’s breakfast looked spectacular too and the mouthful that I grabbed was delicious, with a rich, smoky flavour throughout the bean mixture.
I was momentarily jealous of Dad’s sarnie before I saw my own delicious French toast. Served on beautiful fresh and soft white bread, there was some serious height on that sandwich! Filled with cheese, fried egg, grilled bacon, fresh lettuce, the secret ingredient was the generous serving of the delicious “handmade” tomato chutney that Early Bird café make and also have available for sale inside the shop.
The service is super-friendly and it’s clear that a lot of effort is taken in ensuring quality food is served rather than solely focusing on quick customer turnover. We really enjoyed our breakfast experience and will no doubt return in the not-too-distant future.