Einstein’s Relative, South Yarra

The first breakfast I had when I moved into the South Yarra area was in a café located in the Yarra Lane precinct, adjacent to the train station called Outpost Café. Let’s just say that after that dining experience, I avoided the place altogether and didn’t look in that general direction when I walked to the train station every morning.

Recently, I noticed that there had been a lot of activity in that area during the morning and weekend periods, with people dining inside the café, and spilling over onto the chairs and tables set up in the laneway. Curiosity got the better of me and I thought that I should go and see for myself what all the fuss was about.

The majority of the space is occupied with the open kitchen, with bench space for dining along the perimeter of the café. The exterior walls are made from floor-to-ceiling glass which makes the relatively small space feel open and filled with natural light. Interspersed throughout the café along the benchtops are a series of recent bestselling cookbooks. I devoured the mouth-watering dishes in Ottolenghi’s “Plenty” whilst simultaneously enjoying my breakfast. Small, glass beakers filled with God-knows-what on the tables, together with colourful caricatures of Albert Einstein and friends displayed along the front counter, pay homage to the great scientist and café’s namesake.

The coffee has a sharp, distinctive flavour that is a little too bitter for my palate but nonetheless beautifully presented in one of the café’s trademark stylish emerald-green coffee cups.

The menu is not extensive but has a combination of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences, in conjunction with exotic sounding offerings incorporating organic superfoods such as the Acai Wake Up Bowl and Quinoa Porridge. I have a deep love of haloumi so I was instantly drawn to the Haloumi Bruschetta with seeded sourdough toast, diced haloumi, avocado, radish, tomato medley and a tangy yoghurt dressing.

Haloumi Bruschetta: Seeded sourdough toast with diced haloumi, avocado, radish, tomato medley and a tangy yoghurt dressing - Einstein's Relative, South Yarra
Haloumi Bruschetta: Seeded sourdough toast with diced haloumi, avocado, radish, tomato medley and a tangy yoghurt dressing – Einstein’s Relative, South Yarra

The first thing that struck me about my breakfast was the amazing array of colours. From the vibrant red and yellow displayed in the cherry tomatoes, to the golden brown grilled haloumi, complete with touches of green in the mashed avocado and hints of purple from the micro herb garnish. It was a feast for the eyes as well as for the stomach.

The haloumi cheese, with a crispy outer layer and soft centre was delicious, even more so when covered with the silky smooth yet spicy yoghurt sauce. The medley of thinly sliced radish, tomatoes and herbs were fresh and tasty and a perfect foil for the spice in the dish. With a little more added spice thrown in for good measure, the mashed avocado was also plentiful and helped to ensure that all the combined textures and flavours worked in harmony with each other. The sourdough bread was also great but with all the moisture from the avocado and dressing, it didn’t resemble toast for too long.

It seems a little strange but poignant that my last breakfast as a resident of South Yarra should be in the exact same location as the first one, but at least I can say with absolute certainty that this breakfast experience was thoroughly enjoyable!

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The Little Man Cafe, Seddon

I really had to eat. Although I was heading off to a cooking class at Spice Bazaar in Seddon for four hours of hands-on cooking and eating at 10am, the five consecutive Body Pump classes I had subjected my body to during the week meant that my appetite when I woke up on Saturday morning was off the Richter scale. Surely a little something to eat beforehand couldn’t hurt? The last time I was in Seddon, I had a wonderful breakfast at Common Galaxia which was in the vicinity of where I needed to be and so I headed in that direction.

Walking along the shopping strip in Victoria Street, I could see Common Galaxia in my line of sight and then as I walked past a large window, I could see a communal table in the front with a small crowd of people seated, enjoying coffee and chatting in what appeared to be a new café. The sign on the timber door said “Closed” and I took ten more steps further before I decided to circle back and see if it was a café that was open for breakfast.

Thankfully the place was indeed open and I was greeted by the counter and allowed to sit wherever I wanted. Located on a street corner, the café was full of light from the front and side windows. The brick walls have been painted white, complemented by pale timber floors and tables, white timber chairs, turquoise blue tiles and matching crockery accents all come together to create an elegantly designed dining space.

The menu is not exhaustive but has offerings of toast, baked eggs, scrambled eggs and the traditional Atlantic/Florentine/Benedict options. Yoghurt panna cotta and vanilla bean rice are wonderful substitutes for porridge or muesli and there is Mocha Brioche French Toast dish on the menu that sounds both exotic and delicious. With a fondness for haloumi, my ravenous appetite gravitated towards the Sweet corn hot cakes with smoked salmon, rocket and haloumi, and also took the option to add poached egg.

The café tends to become busier as the morning wears on, however from the moment I sat down, I was well and truly looked after in the customer service department. The same person who greeted me at the door went to the trouble to locate a newspaper for me, replaced my cutlery as soon as it accidentally flew off the table (I blame the Herald Sun), took the trouble to ask if I would like another coffee and had the nous to ask how I wanted my poached egg cooked. Definitely two thumbs up.

The coffee is excellent and the barista is constantly busy but still manages to weave his magic in the presentation of each cup.

Sweet corn hot cakes with smoked salmon, rocket, haloumi and poached egg - The Little Man Cafe, Seddon
Sweet corn hot cakes with smoked salmon, rocket, haloumi and poached egg – The Little Man Cafe, Seddon

When you read something on a menu, your mind tends to conjure up an image of what that dish may look like. The presentation of my breakfast when it arrived exceeded my expectations. Three pikelet sized hot cakes filled with kernels of sweet corn underneath a handful of rocket, topped with slices of smoked salmon, poached eggs and wafer-thin strips of grilled haloumi cheese. Interspersed among all of those ingredients were thin slices of radish, tomato and the most finely chopped pieces of red onion I had ever seen.
The haloumi was crispy and due to its size it didn’t have its normal soft texture and taste but was delicious nonetheless. All of the textures and tastes worked well together, from the crispy cheese, soft egg, the smoky and salty flavour of the salmon, the bitter taste of fresh rocket leaves combined with the firm and slightly sweet hot cakes, made each mouthful an absolute delight. At that point I was rather glad that my appetite got me out of bed early in search of a hearty breakfast and that I found something special and unique in Seddon.

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