Most Saturday mornings, I generally form some sort of plan of where I would like to have breakfast however this week’s adventure was totally impromptu in every sense of the word. Standing on the curb outside my building, I wasn’t sure whether to turn left and walk towards South Melbourne or head in the other direction towards the city. So I threw caution to the wind and walked to the nearby tram stop and let the oncoming No. 55 tram determine my culinary fate.
Five minutes later and en route towards the north of the city, I checked my Urbanspoon app looking for somewhere new and saw that Operator25, was located close by. This place has been on my must do list for a little while, however as one of Melbourne’s top brunch venues, its popularity comes with a price and as soon as I walked down Wills Street towards the café there was a lengthy line-up of people outside waiting for a table.
Just inside the door is an illuminated sign “HOLD THE LINE – PLEASE WAIT TO BE SEATED” which I brazenly disregarded on this occasion and walked up the stairs hoping that there might be a solitary vacant seat available somewhere, anywhere. Two people had also arrived at the same time as myself and approached the front to enquire about a table of four and were told that there was an estimated wait of one hour for the next available table … so be warned. I fared a little better and had thankfully scored a seat within less than ten minutes.
Operator25 has been very recently renovated and the interior has an elegant blend of contemporary and industrial design, with quirky wall art paying homage to the building’s former life as the telephone exchange. There are several communal tables and benches inside the space to accommodate the thronging hordes of people looking to enjoy the experience. I was seated at one of two round communal tables near the door with plenty of space to spread out, relax and savor the menu.
The “Wake up Call” (otherwise known as the breakfast menu) is quite unique with popular Asian dishes such as Three Rice Congee present, together with the sublime sounding Elderflower Sago with chia seeds, rhubarb and strawberry compote, white chocolate foam and freeze-dried mango proving to be a hit with most of the patrons around me. I quite liked the sound of the Eggs Benedict with potato and thyme rosti, grandmother lamb ham and horseradish hollandaise, so by the time someone came over to take my coffee order, I was able to lock in my selection for breakfast.
My breakfast didn’t take long to arrive at all and looked as delicious as it sounded on paper. I started with the crunchy potato rosti which was incredible to taste and evoked happy memories of my late grandmother’s own homemade version, which were made almost the same way with coarsely grated potato and herbs, but this particular interpretation had been deep fried for added colour and texture. The ham which was quite plentiful on the plate, was soft with subtle smoked flavours but the real winner was the silky, smooth rich hollandaise sauce drizzled over the top.
Due to the sheer volume of activity at Operator25, getting your coffee order in a timely manner might be a challenge. I ordered a large hot skinny latte, which arrived quite some time after my breakfast had arrived. My photos probably don’t capture the proportions correctly but the coffee was served in a enormous glazed ceramic bowl and tasted great, but lost a little of its warmth on the journey to the table.
At the precise moment that I began to think of whether there was something to enjoy with my bucket of coffee, free mini White chocolate and matcha green tea and Tiramisu cupcakes were being offered around to all patrons to enjoy in honour of Operator25’s second birthday celebrations. With such great timing, it would be rude not to … so I opted for the beautiful green tea cupcake which was heavenly with my coffee and topped off a great breakfast experience.
It just goes to show that sometimes when you take an impromtu adventure and leave things to chance, you can end up exactly where you are meant to be …