Saturday is always a day of anticipation. As much as I love heading off to discover great places to eat, the first order of business on the weekend is to make my own latte and crawl back into bed to read Saturday’s edition of The Age on my iPad. One of favourite segments is Kylie Northover’s write up of Melbourne’s best brekkies and what’s new on the burgeoning café scene. Lying in the comfort and warmth of my bed, I started to read about Magic Mountain Saloon and it’s “out there” breakfast menu, which is essentially a mash up of Anglo and Thai flavours. I didn’t have to read very far to be sold on the idea of experiencing my own weekend breakfast there, as the article had a very enticing picture of the Chicken and Kaffir Lime Scotched Eggs, Pork Ribs and Tamarind breakfast dish.
This end of Little Collins Street is rather quiet on a Saturday morning and I started to wonder if I had the correct address before noticing the fluorescent symbols illuminating the windows and doorway to let me know that I had reached my destination. The good thing is that there were no queues and once I walked inside, I really did have my pick of tables. The sole waiter on duty showed me to a table and banquette by the window but as luck would have it, that table was in desperate need of a clean. Once the situation had been rectified, I had a menu to peruse and my coffee was taken, although I wasn’t sure where the orders were going to as there wasn’t a lot of activity happening behind the counter where the coffee machine was located.
Magic Mountain Saloon really does feel like … well, a saloon. With dark interiors and dim lighting, the large bar area which takes centre stage, has been fashioned with a marble top and wooden decorative scrollwork overhead and obviously great pains have been taken to ensure that it looks like one of those bars featured in Hollywood’s version of the Wild West. For a breakfast venue, it felt somewhat cold and impersonal. I had the feeling as though I had walked into a bar still recovering from a big one the night before and I was sitting in the aftermath, so maybe there is no intended magic to be had in the ambience stakes – it simply is what it is – a bar that’s also open for breakfast.
The menu, aptly named “Breakfast on the Mountain” is quite comprehensive, with quite a few dishes to choose from, although helpfully categorised into distinct sections to make selections somewhat easier. It’s definitely Asian-inspired cuisine, but not as you or I would know it – picture pork belly rather than bacon or daikon as a substitute for potato in the humble hash brown and Morning Glory instead of baby spinach. Besides the eclectic morning food menu, there is also a substantial “Morning Sunshine” cocktail list and a range of non-alcoholic drinks. I prefer hot drinks in the cooler months but I was starting to mentally picture myself wandering to Magic Mountain Saloon in late Spring for breakfast and an iced beverage or two.
My Mum used to make scotched eggs when I was a little and whilst it always looked and tasted delicious, I can’t imagine it would have been easy to make. Being a dish that I would never make at home, I thought that the Chicken and Kaffir Lime Scotched Eggs, Pork Ribs and Tamarind would be a great start to the day. When I gave my breakfast order, my waiter asked me how much heat I could tolerate and at that hour of the day, I admitted that I preferred my spice intake to be on the mild side. The sage advice given to me was to choose another dish so off the cuff I went with the Ocean Trout and Ginger Scrambled Eggs and got the nod of approval from my waiter. Phew!
While breakfast was cooking, my coffee order arrived but unfortunately the café latte wasn’t that exceptional (or even hot) making me think that I really should have taken the time to digest the cocktail list. Thankfully I didn’t wait all that long for my breakfast to arrive and despite the last minute change in decision, I think I definitely made the right one. Succulent pieces of pan-seared ocean trout, mixed with a savoury interpretation of wok-tossed scrambled eggs, fresh sprigs of coriander, served on top of thickly sliced toast was just what I wanted and it was all mine. The flavour in the scrambled eggs was delicious but hard to define – I couldn’t overtly detect the presence of ginger on my palate because of the inclusion of spring onion and onion in the egg mixture – but it was silky smooth in texture and the Asian flavours were mouth-watering. I loved the chunky morsels of ocean trout which were beautifully cooked but the toast was so soft and light in texture, it was just perfect for absorbing the strong combination of flavours on the dish. It was quite an amazing breakfast and well recommended.
As the morning progressed, the dining room got a lot busier and the poor lone waiter started to be run off his feet so it was time to “get the hell out of Dodge” as they say in a famous Western. Magic Mountain Saloon offers something magical in its interpretation of breakfast fare and I know I need to come back soon to have a crack at the scotched eggs, even if I have to wash it down with a few slugs of whiskey to counteract the heat factor.