There’s a lot of brunch cafes in Melbourne at the moment delivering a lot of style over substance. Would you like to have some dehydrated strawberries on your bircher this morning? Or perhaps some cured wallaby with your scrambled eggs? Don’t get me wrong, I do love an inventive brunch like the best of us, but not if it gets in the way of flavour. It seems that the Melbourne brunch scene is getting a bit fussy for it’s own good. I guess a big fry up isn’t considered pretty or “Instagram worthy” these days, so chefs are being pushed to the brink to make their food look pretty.
Like half of the Melbourne food bloggers on Instagram, I visited the newly opened Mammoth Cafe in Armadale last weekend, the brainchild of Jamie and Loren McBride – the husband and wife duo behind Melbourne brunch hot spots Touchwood and Barry.
Only a stone’s throw from Toorak Train Station, the cafe is housed within a gorgeous iconic building on a corner allotment.
It’s a great looking cafe, light and airy throughout; the kind of cafe you could linger easily for a couple of hours soaking up the morning sunshine and enjoying a perfectly brewed Five Senses Coffee. The cafe is full of a mix of yummy mummy’s, fitness enthusiasts, hipster types and average Joe’s, just like me.
The fitout is designed by Techne Architects and has a semi Scandi feel with its blonde timber frames and white exposed brick. The interior is brightened by an ocean blue coloured bar and metal fittings.
The menu is pretty much as fussy as they come when it comes to brunch. But it’s clever, fun and exciting – designed around flavours that will excite and challenge the taste buds. It’s no surprise that it’s been invented by Emma Jeffrey (ex-Hammer and Tong). There’s a grilled lychee and passionfruit chia pudding served with macadamia, hemp seed crumble and blood orange and a ridiculously devilish looking cherry lamington puffed pancake paired with cherry jam and dark chocolate ice-cream. You can also choose to have some egg and bacon popcorn as a side order. Or round off your meal with a Golden Gaytime panna cotta teamed with honeycomb, sablé biscuit and chocolate coated popping candy.
After much deliberation, I ordered the coconut yoghurt custard ($14.50), a ridiculously good looking dish, full of eye popping colour. The custard was a little dry for my liking but had a nice taste, moistened by dollops of strawberry puree. A salad of fresh strawberries were served on top, accompanied by a dehydrated strawberry crisp and a raw buckwheat and wattle seed granola which provided a nice textural mix. And don’t forget the edible flowers! Perhaps a little overkill but it did make the dish look even extra pretty.
Since opening, the North Shore has developed a huge following amongst brunch enthusiasts. The picture perfect dish is plated into a sumptuous quad of smokey ham hock, flame grilled pineapple, a tabasco and jalapeno popper and poached eggs. The golden baked hash was executed beautifully, combining well with the spicy popper and the pineapple, crowed with a crispy layer of caramelised sugar. It may not be to everyone’s taste buds but I loved it.
Of course no brunch trip is complete without a coffee, and my Five Senses flat white went down a treat!
I can’t wait to go back and order more from the menu. It’s great to see a cafe that is plating up such delicious looking food but it tastes great too! I’ve got my eyes on the lobster donut burger paired with green mango and papaya slaw.
Highlight – The coconut yoghurt custard – a light alternative for the morning. Low light – The crowds! Get here early to avoid being disappointed.