Townhouse, Toorak

Last year, I thought I would try and discover new breakfast destinations, courtesy of the Number 8 city bound tram. Whilst I was eager to visit all the cafés en route from the Domain Interchange through to Brunswick and Coburg, I also wondered what I would discover if I took a trip in the opposite direction. Its been almost a year to the day since I had walked up to Toorak village, and seeing as my days of living in the South Yarra area are almost coming to an end, I decided to catch the tram and see what new culinary adventure awaited.

A beautiful, sunny morning, it wasn’t long before I could see occupied chairs and tables outside on the footpath, and found an open and inviting café called “Townhouse”. The interior was stylish with touches of Scandinavian influence with clean wooden floors, chairs and tables, with an inviting dark grey, linen upholstered banquette seat opposite the coffee machine. I was captivated by the designer lighting over the counter area and secretly wished I had something similar in my pad.

I don’t represent myself as a coffee connoisseur, but I was in heaven upon first sip of my skinny latte. Without doubt, the best cup of coffee I have tasted in a long while, and you know that you are in the right place when you look up and see George Calombaris also enjoying breakfast there.

The menu had the usual offerings of fruit toast, muesli, porridge, various bacon and egg combinations with accompaniments, smoked salmon with avocado and eggs, omelette and pancakes. I was intrigued by the description of the pancakes which sounded slightly healthy: Rye, Chia Seed and Blueberry pancakes with vanilla mouse and maple syrup. I can recall my Mum making a buckwheat version when I was a young girl and its taken years to blot out the memory of their terrible taste. Yeuch! Whilst I was a little apprehensive about the inclusion of rye and chia seeds, I was willing to try something new.

Although I had a case of food envy when a plate of Smoked Salmon on Dark Rye with poached eggs, avocado and preserved lemon hollandaise arrived at the table next to mine. The presentation was fabulous and I almost wished that was what I had ordered, and then my breakfast arrived. Also beautifully presented, with four pikelet sized pancakes and dollops of vanilla mousse artfully arranged on the plate. The mousse was extremely fluffy with faint hints of vanilla bean, slightly sweetened by the juice from the blueberries but had more of a foam-like consistency. The pancakes were moist and generously filled with blueberries and drizzled with maple syrup. I couldn’t detect any obvious taste of rye or chia seeds but the pancakes were extremely light and delicious.

Rye, Chia Seed and Blueberry pancakes with vanilla mousse and maple syrup - Townhouse, Toorak
Rye, Chia Seed and Blueberry pancakes with vanilla mousse and maple syrup – Townhouse, Toorak

The service at Townhouse is efficient, perfunctory and unobtrusive but dare I say it, there is a lack of genuine personal interaction. My coffee order was taken within thirty seconds of being seated; my plate silently whisked away as soon as I had finished and my empty coffee glass also wordlessly taken. I really wanted another skinny latte after having enjoyed my first cup, and the usual “Would you like another coffee?” wasn’t forthcoming. Before I could request one, the waitress had sped off. As there was nothing on my table, service staff had no reason to come near me, so my only recourse was sit and stare around the café until I gained someone’s attention. My payment at the cash register was similarly conducted with robotic precision and I walked out with the feeling that I was another transaction rather than a customer.

Aside from that, Townhouse is a lovely café with delicious food and I hope that it doesn’t take another year to wander up to Toorak village and enjoy breakfast there again.

Townhouse on Urbanspoon

Si Drivani, South Yarra

Walking past South Yarra Square every morning on my way to work and seeing the gushing fountain, umbrellas, chairs and tables always makes me long for the piazzas in Rome. When the sun is shining in Melbourne (a rare occurrence these days), I wish I could stop and have breakfast and pretend that I was in Europe.
With the sun shining on Saturday morning, I wondered where I could go and sit and relax and I recalled the cafe in the square.
With a somewhat limited breakfast menu, I settled on the Spanish omelette. I rarely order omelette, although I was thinking that the sound of chorizo, tomato and goats cheese would be suitable with the Mediterranean atmosphere and just what I felt like for brunch.
Spanish omelette with sausage, Spanish onions, tomato, goats cheese and fresh herbs - Si Drivani, South Yarra
Spanish omelette with sausage, Spanish onions, tomato, goats cheese and fresh herbs – Si Drivani, South Yarra

My dish wasn’t what I was anticipating. In what was akin to a savoury pancake, the omelette arrived on top of a dry piece of toasted sourdough and a handful of baby spinach dropped in the corner. The omelette was edible but was similar to a frittata. My breakfast was okay but like the presentation, nothing special.

The Millswyn, South Yarra

The internet can be both friend or foe. After I had missed having breakfast at The Botanical, I looked at their website to see what would whet my appetite and unfortunately nothing took my fancy. Thinking about where I could go for breakfast in the same proximity, I recalled The Millswyn and started to look for their breakfast menu and spied that there were ricotta hotcakes on the menu! The deal was sealed.

Arriving at The Millswyn, I found an outside table and waited … and waited. After a while, I was greeted by a gruff man who handed me a menu and asked for my coffee order while showering me with spit.

Undaunted, I proceeded to review the menu, anxious for the ricotta hotcakes and what a surprise … they weren’t listed. Damn the internet! The next best option available was the buttermilk pancakes with cinnamon apples, maple syrup and whipped butter.

Buttermilk pancakes with cinnamon apples, maple syrup and whipped butter - The Millswyn, South Yarra
Buttermilk pancakes with cinnamon apples, maple syrup and whipped butter – The Millswyn, South Yarra

The whipped butter was faintly reminiscent of McDonald’s but moistened the pancakes as it melted. I was a little shocked at the presentation as one of the pancakes looked slightly burnt or charred but they were almost perfectly cooked, as every now and again there was a slight batter or doughy after taste. The apples were extremely crunchy with the odd hint of cinnamon and I almost thought that they were also undercooked, but it was a great mix of texture and spice and almost rendered the pancakes as an accompaniment to the dish.

Having enjoyed my breakfast, my plate cleared away and relaxing with my second latte, my gruff waiter reappeared and promptly yanked my clean serviette sitting beneath my coffee with such violent force that almost rendered me speechless and my beverage in the next suburb. Especially as I was saving it until I had finished my meal.

Finishing my coffee I went in search of the cash register, where my super efficient waiter greeted me with nothing more than the words “Twenty two dollars”. Dutifully I handed over my EFTPOS card and patiently waited for the receipt and then to my surprise, I was told to enjoy my day. In my mind’s eye, I kindly gave him a two fingered salute.