Breakfast Thieves, Fitzroy

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.

My PB and J; Brioche French Toast pieces served with peanut butter soil, sweetened beetroot, candied bacon, raspberry jelly and lemon curd - Breakfast Thieves, Fitzroy
My PB and J; Brioche French Toast pieces served with peanut butter soil, sweetened beetroot, candied bacon, raspberry jelly and lemon curd – Breakfast Thieves, Fitzroy

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!

Breakfast Thieves on Urbanspoon


Birdman Eating, Fitzroy

The pressure is on. Where do I head to on Saturday morning for breakfast? I’ve been a bit complacent over the last few weeks as there have been so many new and wonderful cafes to visit in my local neighbourhood but now I need to get serious about getting out and about and visiting those cafes on my “must do” list. Flicking through the Melbourne Magazine, I see an article on the Birdman Rally held in 1989 and then I mentally recall to mind a cafe in Fitzroy called “Birdman Eating” that had been mentioned to me several months ago.

With a destination in mind, I negotiated a train and a tram to get to Gertrude Street and looked for the cafe. I’m always fearful that there won’t be a table or space for me when I arrive, but I was in luck and found a table inside. A beautiful, old building with stained glass windows, art deco lighting and dark wood panelling and mirrors along the walls, it was exactly where I wanted to be on a warm summer morning.

Eagerly anticipating the breakfast menu, my finely honed radar sense zeroed in on French toast offering on the menu, but then my eyes skipped to the ricotta hotcakes, which is a dish close to my heart and is not always readily available on most cafe menus. The description of the dish was so unique – I’ve seen meat cooked using the confit method but the idea of possibly applying the same process to fruit was mind boggling.

Ricotta hotcakes with confit caramelised banana, peanut butter & maple syrup - Birdman Eating, Fitzroy
Ricotta hotcakes with confit caramelised banana, peanut butter & maple syrup – Birdman Eating, Fitzroy

The first mouthful was of the peanut butter ice-cream mixture on top of the hotcakes and it blew my mind away. Soft and creamy with a distinct but not over-powering peanut butter flavour. The hard part was trying to eat it before it rapidly melted away.

The confit banana still maintained its form, slightly mushy on the outside but firm enough to cut with a knife. The ricotta hotcakes were nice and hot, but not exactly memorable. I couldn’t detect any ricotta in the mixture and felt like I was eating a very crispy pancake but it adequately soaked up the maple syrup, melted ice-cream and banana.

I always save the hard bit to last! The pecan praline was a complete surprise and was a fairly thick shard of toffee but not too hard to break apart into edible bite-size pieces.

The best thing about this dish, and which isn’t really identifiable in the photo because I’ve zoomed in, is that it is not a substantially large dish that prevents you from eating again at lunch time. Bon appetite!