Tall Timber, Prahran

After three days of continual dark grey skies, cold winds and drizzling rain, the thought of heading out outside for breakfast on Saturday morning felt more like agony than an adventure. Bracing myself for another miserable day, I could not believe my eyes as I wound back the bedroom blinds and stared into brilliant sunshine and clear blue skies. What a glorious day! I suddenly felt invigorated again, ready to stretch my legs and looking forward to going somewhere new for breakfast.

I must admit that in the area where I live, I’m relatively familiar with cafés and restaurants along the length and breadth of Chapel Street, but beyond its borders is a territory waiting to be discovered. With the warmth of the sun on my back, I started walking towards Chapel Street and then along Commercial Road, away from the Prahran Markets, past the busy construction site for a new apartment development, leaving the home improvement and interior decorator centres in my wake, and just when I could see Punt Road in my sights, I discovered “Tall Timber”.

The café is positioned on a street corner, with large windows along the front and sides providing lots of natural light into the main dining area. With polished concrete floors, high ceilings, white brick walls, dark grey Vienna café chairs doubling as furniture and wall art, track lighting and natural timber accents, the modern interior accentuated the light and perception of space.

Tall Timber is extremely popular and seems like the place to be. I was concerned for a moment or two when I walked in as to whether I would I get a seat, given that the inside communal table was full and there already seemed to be several groups of people also waiting for tables and seats to become available.

Thankfully there was room outside in the courtyard area which gave me another opportunity to enjoy the sunshine. I was expecting to sit on my own, however coming out through the back of the café is another large communal dining table that is almost the length of the courtyard, with market umbrellas providing shelter and a beautiful herb and vegetable garden creating an exotic and colourful centrepiece.

The menu at Tall Timber differs from others with its emphasis on superfoods such as goji, kale, quinoa throughout its breakfast dishes. My friends like to comment on my strong preference for sweet dishes over savoury, and while I was tempted when I saw House made banana and pistachio bread with espresso mascarpone, my eyes kept reading over the description of the Timber Benedict and within three minutes of being seated, I had ordered.

With such a busy enterprise and tables or covers constantly turning over in short periods of time, the quality and quantity of service given is spot on. I got a little kick of being called “Ma’am” when I sat down and then again when my coffee was delivered. My dish seemed to take a little bit longer than most others at the table and while I didn’t mind, the person who took my order, took the time to let me know what was happening in the kitchen and when I could expect my meal.

My skinny latte was delicious with a sweet creaminess that made it all too easy to disappear in two or three gulps, so another coffee was promptly ordered and delivered whilst I waited patiently for breakfast to be served. As I was surrounded by beautiful young people, mostly wearing lycra and eating delicious super healthy food, I started to wonder what had possessed me to order slow cooked pork for breakfast. The person on my immediate right ordered the Sauteed kale, asparagus, green beans with poached eggs, almonds & goats curd on quinoa loaf and it really looked fabulous and vibrant, probably what I should be eating on a Saturday morning. But after three big sessions of Body Pump during the week (hello Naomi!), my café outings have always been about trying dishes that I don’t eat at home, celebrating the end of another working week, and generally enjoying life, so bring on the carbs!

Timber Benedict with slow cooked pork shoulder, poached eggs and apple cider hollandaise - Tall Timber, Prahran
Timber Benedict with slow cooked pork shoulder, poached eggs and apple cider hollandaise – Tall Timber, Prahran

When my breakfast arrived, it looked sensational and I was extremely pleased with what I had ordered. While the slow cooked pork didn’t melt in your mouth, similarly it wasn’t dry and had small portions of crispy and crunchy meat throughout to give texture and additional flavour. My eggs were expertly poached to my liking with hints of the silky and slightly sweet apple cider hollandaise covering it to add another level of deliciousness to the mix. The wow factor on the plate was actually the finely julienned green apple which gave the dish a fruity, sweet component that naturally complements pork. There was also a small drizzle of runny honey over the eggs and pork to bring all the flavours together. With all the agonising of whether to have sweet or savoury for breakfast, this dish melded these two elements perfectly so that each mouthful was balanced in flavour. It was definitely worth the small wait and a great reward at the end of a morning walk in the sunshine.

In the end the only regret was forgetting to bring my sunglasses!

Tall Timber on Urbanspoon


Third Wave Café, Prahran

I stumbled upon Third Wave late one Friday evening while I was half-heartedly flicking through my Urbanspoon app and wondering where I should have breakfast in the morning. I had been thinking about all the bargains I needed to grab at Aldi and at the Prahran Market so as I looked at cafés in the area, my interest was piqued when I saw a beautiful picture of cheese blintzes, just like the ones my Baba used to make.

Finding cafés that offer blintzes on their menu is a rare treat, so I made note of the address and set off down Chapel Street. Third Wave is located in Cato Street, a nondescript side street located near the Woolworths supermarket. With a fitness studio directly opposite, it is a unique place to find a café. It’s nice to walk in and find plenty of space and choices where to sit. The café has a living wall at one end and full length windows to the left and bright touches of orange reflected in the menus and crockery to add a bit of glamour to the industrial décor.

After eating at different cafés every Saturday morning, when you look through the menu, it almost becomes predictable and while I went with the express intent of ordering the Cherry Cheese Blintzes, it was refreshing to see such a varied menu. There was a dedicated paleo section, a number of Russian dishes and several house specialities. For five minutes, I struggled to decide with all of my favourite breakfast dishes on the menu – Should I have the ricotta pancakes with caramel sauce? Ooh, what about the creamy orange French toast? No, wait, they have house cured salmon with brioche and poached egg! But what about the blintzes? … Thankfully someone came and took my order and I managed to babble out that I would like the blintzes for breakfast.

Cherry Cheese Blintzes - Third Wave, Prahran
Cherry Cheese Blintzes – Third Wave, Prahran

The blintzes looked fabulous and were beautifully presented with a cherry sauce accompaniment. My heritage is Russian and my grandmother was an amazing cook who made fantastic blintzes with ricotta or quark cheese that she had made herself, so inevitably my mind and palate attempts to draw a comparison. The blintzes were great but nothing like my Baba’s and I paused to remind myself that this dish is its own unique offering and interpretation of a classic component of traditional Russian cuisine.

The crepes were thin and light but what was surprising was that the creamy filling was really cold inside. Usually, the cheese filling is warm – it wasn’t unpleasant, just unexpected. The filling was pink, with large chunks of fresh dark black cherries mixed throughout the cream cheese mixture. With a smooth creamy texture, the filling wasn’t sweet to taste, with the cherry sauce providing additional moisture for the crepes and a touch of natural sweetness to the filling. With two large crepe parcels filled with cream cheese, the portions are very generous, so don’t make any plans for lunch!

It’s not often that I frequent the same café but with so many delectable things on the menu, I felt obliged to return and try something else. So this morning, I struggled with the same dilemma – sweet or savoury? Pancakes or French toast or savoury with a touch of sweet Brioche? I’m a sucker for ricotta pancakes and when the menu description makes specific mention that the pancakes are very fluffy, I feel obliged to test this assertion.

Ricotta pancakes topped with salted caramel sauce, apple and vanilla ice cream - Third Wave, Prahran
Ricotta pancakes topped with salted caramel sauce, apple and vanilla ice cream – Third Wave, Prahran

I think I nearly gasped at the sheer size of this dish, with two large thick pancakes drizzled with a rich brown caramel sauce and ice cream. I will be the first to admit that these are the best ricotta pancakes that I have ever had – fluffy, with the pancake batter perfectly cooked and visible chunks of moist, thick ricotta cheese mixed throughout. The caramel sauce wasn’t too thick or sweet and my initial thought was that there may be too much sauce on the plate but the thick pancakes seemed to balance the quantity. It was nice to have a bit of crunch of pistachio with the creamy ice cream which was slowly melting into the caramel sauce. There were bite sized chunks of cooked apple, not too many portions but just enough to lend some sweetness and balance the flavours and textures. I think what I liked best about the pancakes was the slightly oily crust that had formed on the outside when cooking which was delicious. I have tasted ricotta pancakes that had a inedible burnt crust; some that were a gooey uncooked mash inside; or ones that were so thin that could have been used as a Frisbee and had a notable lack of ricotta in its substance. To my mind, it is an achievement to get all of these elements perfectly balanced so undoubtedly the best ricotta pancakes I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.

Next week might be the third wave at Third Wave!


Third Wave on Urbanspoon