feast of merit, richmond

it’s been a while since a decent “walk and brunch”, so after an intense couple of days of work in sydney + a beautiful sunny day emerging in melbourne, the husband + i spent the morning walking down to feast of merit in richmond. according to their website + menu “feast of merit is a social enterprise owned and run by ygap, and all profits raised directly support (our) youth education and youth leadership projects in malawi, ghana, rwanda, bangladesh, cambodia and australia”. the cafe offers “delicious seasonal produce, raw foods and an assortment of locally sourced drinks”. their philosophy is driven by “being local, ethical and sustainable”. this place is one i’ve had my eye on for some time, so i was excited to try it this morning.

the coffee is st ali  + the cafe uses larsen + thompson teas and st david dairy. on top of beautifully smooth + delicious coffee, there are also cold pressed juices + smoothies on offer – the drinks menu comes stand alone to the food menu + is certainly extensive. flavours like the gandhi enlightened smoothie (spirulina, maca, cranberry, fresh coconut, coconut flesh, lsa, pure lime essential oil + coconut water) caught my eye + will be on my list for next time.

feast of merit, richmond

soy latte, feast of merit

the basilenko juice – apple, orange, pineapple, strawberry + mint
a refreshing fruity juice served in a gorgeous mini milk bottle + glass jar.

feast of merit, richmond

the basilenko, feast of merit

shakshouka – tomato, chilli peppers, spring legumes, eggs + tahini labneh
served in skillet-for-one, the eggs were baked perfectly with a kidney bean + chickpea combination in the fresh tomato base. this dish had fantastic flavour, with a generous serve of tahini labneh + olive oil as all best middle eastern-style dishes do! shakshouka + any form of baked eggs are in my top 3 all-time dishes + this certainly helped to continue my love for this dish!

feast of merit, richmond

shakshouka, feast of merit

poached eggs + bacon
runny yolks + beech smoked bacon – no guesses necessary for whose dish this was!

feast of merit, richmond

bacon + eggs, feast of merit

spring/summer yousli - coconut pana, compressed seasonal fruit, roasted hazelnut, mulberries, raw cocoa, puffed quinoa, buckwheat, caramelised buckinis, coconut, dates, goji, currents, sunflower/chia seeds, pepitas + raw cinnamon
this earthy + wholesome “yousli” was a perfect way to end our brunch – full of flavour, texture + nutrition. the coconut panacotta was subtle + light, and with a side of milk this was delicious!

feast of merit, richmond

yousli, feast of merit

feast of merit, richmond

feast of merit, richmond

feast of merit, richmond

feast of merit, richmond

unfortunately, i was let down a little by the service – not as friendly as it could have been; and certainly didn’t appreciate the mother who proceeded to change her baby’s nappy on the seat next to us – i didn’t need that odour in my nose whilst eating breakfast!

despite this, the cafe does have a great vibe, with industrial + exposed brick throughout and i love the sustainable philosophy and earthy + middle eastern influence of the menu.

verdict: delicious food with a middle-eastern influence + socially-conscious philosophy
find: www.feastofmerit.com

 

Feast of Merit on Urbanspoon

operator25 ii, melbourne cbd

this isn’t the first time i’ve frequented operator25, a trendy cafe in the top-end of the CBD, but seen as we were heading to the vic markets and this funky cafe is operating on their spring 2014 menu (different to the last menu i tried) – we headed in pre-market shopping last sunday.

i’m still in love with the decor – the brass pendant, round wooden seating + wall murals – its clean + sophisticated with a touch of spunk! the service was again friendly and efficient and these guy sure know how to make a good coffee! i used to be a self-proclaimed “wuss” in the coffee departments, horribly addicted to the habit of drinking multiple cups per day but at half-strength with 2 sugars (stick with me, i promise i’ve changed!). since moving to melbourne i’ve gradually improved my tolerance (and no doubt addiction) for the liquid gold stuff but also (thankfully!) weaned myself off of what was probably more of a sugar addiction that anything else. so now, i’m proudly a full-strength soy latte/flat white drinker (san sweetners) – and slowly learning to disseminate the different inferences in each of the coffee blends. there is no way i’ll be claiming to be an expert (“with fruity flavours + coconut undertones”) – i’ll need a training course one day for that … but i hope that now i can somewhat distinguish a good coffee from a bad one!

operator25, melbourne cbd

operator25

operator25, melbourne cbd

operator25, melbourne cbd

operator25, melbourne cbd

operator25, melbourne cbd

anyway… where was i? oh yeah…. so, operator25 use cartel coffee roasters, a locally-roasted and recognised brand in many melbourne cafes (T-Roy Browns – a newbie in the CBD, Workshop Bros., LB2 just to name a few). the coffee is excellent + the baristas take real pride in the making of each cup – seriously it’s not often you get soy milk poured this well. i also LOVE the big hug-size cups – perfect for an early or tired morning.

operator25, melbourne cbd

latte, operator25

operator25, melbourne cbd

flat white, operator25

the spring menu has definitely changed somewhat since my last visit, but i like that they have stayed true to their previous styles whilst substituting for more in-season produce and lighter/warmer-weather dishes. for those that know or remember the vanilla custard sago from the autumn/winter menu (to die for!), this little beauty is the spring menu equivalent:

cold mango rice pudding, macerated berries, pistachio + cherry foam
i am loving anything sago or rice-based at the moment + this one is definitely a new fave. mango-infused rice with fresh mango, the base of this dish was solid to begin with – refreshing, light, (healthy?!). the inclusion of the pistachios + water cress added some texture and the macerated berries on the bottom was delicious. and then the creaminess of the cherry foam helped smooth/pull it all together. needless to say there was definitely nothing left in the bottom of this cup at the end of brunch + for me, a perfect light option for those not wanting a full/huge meal.

operator25, melbourne cbd

rice pudding, operator25

operator25, melbourne cbd

oats, operator25

house honey baked oats with acai yoghurt + fresh fruits
again, we tried the autumn/winter equivalent last time (with a poached apple) and this spring version is equally as tasty. the summer fruits – i love melon! – and blueberries were fresh and juicy and the addition of acai yoghurt (berry flavour) as opposed to plain yoghurt really added to this dish. the oats themselves are consistent with the previous version – full of nuts, seeds + sultanas which for me are a winning oats combination. loved this dish!

operator25, melbourne cbd

bacon + eggs, operator25

poached eggs + bacon
perfectly cooked poached eggs with runny yolk + a very generous serving of grilled bacon. who doesn’t love a good b+e?!

operator25, melbourne cbd

smashed avocado, operator25

smashed avocado on grilled corn bread with two poached eggs + spiced tomato salsa
having just come back from america’s south i was really excited by this dish. the spiced tomato salsa gave this dish a mexican influence + the cornbread (which was pretty authentic) reminded me of alabama. if you’ve never tried cornbread, the best way i can think to describe it is almost like a very dense corn + egg quiche with a loaf/heavy bread consistency. it is seriously yum! in the south they soak it in honey + serve it sweet which is ah-maz-ing (and definitely not good for the waist-line)! again, eggs were poached perfectly + the avo smash was light and fresh. this was a very tasty + cohesive dish.

operator25, melbourne cbd

eggs benedict, operator25

house benedict: potato rosti, grandmother ham, poached eggs, mustard + tarragon hollandaise
a foodie friend of mine tried this dish + since i was too full from eating, half-eating or taste-testing all the others, i’ll take it on good advice that this was a fantastic dish. he loved the potato rosti (crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside) + raved about the hollandaise. again the eggs were perfectly poached + who doesn’t love a good eggs-bene with ham off the bone… reminds of christmas!

in summary, i am still a huge fan of this place + whilst i don’t get up that way of the cbd all that often, it IS perfectly located for anyone visiting the queen vic markets. so next time you’re around the area, definitely pay operator25 a visit – great food, delicious coffee + a sophisticated vibe!

verdict: definitely still a huge fan!
find: http://operator25.com.au/

Operator25 on Urbanspoon

hammer + tong, fitzroy

this one’s been on my wishlist for a while so with some foodie friends of ours visiting from qld for the weekend, the sun shining and the pre-afl-gf rush not yet started, we headed to hammer + tong in fitzroy this morning.

the coffee is duke coffee roasters house blend which is strong but balanced + perfectly smooth when teemed with bonsoy milk in my soy latte. the coffee was consistent with two more lattes + a flat white all delivered with picture-perfect latte art. i know i’ve mentioned it before, but i’m also still in love with acme cups.

hammer + tong, fitzroy

dukes coffee roasters, hammer + tong

hammer + tong, fitzroy

hammer + tong

hammer + tong, fitzroy

latte, hammer + tong

hammer + tong, fitzroy

flat white, hammer + tong

the menu is definitely unique, offering plenty of variety for the adventurous bruncher whilst providing a few staples for those after a more familiar dish. for example, in addition to the few that i’ll outline below which we sampled there is a breakfast ramen, lebanese eggplant + paneer curry, spiced baba ganoush + an on-trend soft shell crab burger.

salt + pepper french toast, fried duck egg, maple, sausage crumble, duck egg + salted caramel ice-cream
i had literally been salivating all morning, having already known that this was what i wanted to order. and i was not disappointed (phew!). it is certainly a very complex dish, over-stimulating the taste buds but in a good way. you wouldn’t think that ice-cream (and salted caramel flavour no-less) would go with all of those savoury components, but surprisingly it does – almost like mixing maple syrup with bacon. i’ve not had duck egg before, but i have to say i’m now a huge fan – it has a stronger flavour than a regular egg; which paired perfectly with the soft savoury french toast slice which it sat atop. a great start to our brunch.

hammer + tong, fitzroy

salt + pepper french toast, hammer + tong

corn + zucchini fritters, cumin spiced avocado mousse, manchego, tabasco jam, chilli, tomato + a poached or fried egg
this dish had a plethora of deconstructed mexican components with the manchego cheese, chilli, corn + avocado, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d walked into a taco bar; but thankfully the fritters and poached eggs help turn this into a light + tasty breakfast dish. the egg was poached perfectly + with a kick of spice this would be good substitute for any huevos rancheros lover.

hammer + tong, fitzroy

corn + zucchini fritters, hammer + tong

bacon + poached eggs
it is only fair that we test out the staple – bacon + poached eggs – after all if a restaurant can’t do the basic right its not a good sign. thankfully, eggs were poached perfectly again and the bacon was good-quality with a generous serving size.

hammer + tong, fitzroy

bacon + eggs, hammer + tong

lavender yoghurt custard, strawberry + pineapple gel, berries, lychee with basil cress
the prettiness of this dish could rival the artistic top paddock hot cake (gasp!). it is so gorgeous you almost get stage fright, not sure where to dig in first. and then i decided …. that dehydrated lychee — OMG! amazing! after that, it didn’t take long to demolish this entire dish until we were pretty much licking the bowl. the yoghurt is thick and creamy + quite frankly addictive. and then those gels and fruits + other pretty things … all unbelievable. there was fresh strawberries, blueberries + raspberries + then edible flowers, dehydrated pear, raspberries, mandarin (also amazing!) + then did i mention dehydrated lychee?! i was in heaven!

hammer + tong, fitzroy

lavender yoghurt custard, hammer + tong

as you can see from above, the coffee + food is exceptional! and for that, i can certainly see why this is #1 on the top 10 list for melbourne on urbanspoon at the moment – and hope that it stays there for a good while! congratulations on an outstanding menu + brilliant coffee hammer + tong! my only tip – get there early or be prepared for a wait! by the time we left at 11am this morning, the line was down the street!

verdict: urbanspoon #1 on the top 10 in melbourne for good reason!
find: hammerandtong.com.au

Hammer & Tong on Urbanspoon

hammer + tong, fitzroy

hammer + tong