Thomastown

Another Northern Brunch Roundup

Welcome to another look at some lovely brunch places in the northern suburbs, proving convenient to all the lazy northerners who do not want to travel any further than needed for a decent meal. Apologies for the lack of posts lately but unfortunately life gets a tad busy sometimes. Anyway, I’m back and ready to tempt you with lots of food.

Fifteen Pounds: 21/23 Railway Place, Fairfield

I was surprised to find that this exciting and unique cafe was located just across from Fairfield Station – and that I used to go past it every morning in the car on the way to work! It looks quite small and cosy, but being a warm day, we had to make the most of this rare, warm day amidst Melbourne’s bout of unpredictable weather.

As this was quite a late brunch, I didn’t feel the need for coffee and we both ended up with berry smoothies coming in the latest trend of large, filling jars. They were very big, but more importantly milky and refreshing for the warm day.

Berry smoothies

After escaping the claws of temptation from the wagyu burger on the menu, I decided that it wasn’t a good idea to stomach such a heavy meal late in the day (and before a badminton session!) The specials tempted us with their unusual sounding dishes, thus my friend and I both chose from this menu.

My best friend’s dish was baked trout and shrimp with poached eggs, salsa verde, toaste and lemon air (below, courtesy of her Instagram – click through for her profile). Curiosity was evidently upon us, as we read “lemon air,” and to our amazement it was our favourite part of the dish. It’s the very pale yellow sauce in focus and it had a very unique taste, almost as if it belonged in a dessert, yet it worked so well in this dish. It had a light tangy flavour like lemon, yet it was a bit sweet too, like icing…but not.

Next up was my fish and chips (below), but it was not your ordinary serving as you can see. In fact it included purple french fries, made from some handy sweet potato, and barramundi plated quite pleasantly on the lettuce leaves.

The fries didn’t even taste that different from normal french fries, which I found impressive. They may not look attractive but they were crisp and crunchy, but every now again you do notice a taste that indicates that it’s actually sweet potato (no complaints). The fish was perfectly cooked and had a crispy skin on the outside, just the way I like it, and the sauce was light and garnished with greens.

These dishes are the type that don’t look filling but surprisingly are, proving quality over quantity. I absolutely loved their creativity and wonder if it’s worth going back to try all their interesting specials. They are such a small, local looking cafe, that you might not think twice passing by – but if you stop and take a look, some of their items may just surprise you. A gem for this section of town.

Prices are similar to usual brunch dishes, but may reach $20+ for some of the larger meals.

Fifteen Pounds is open Tue-Fri 7am-4pm and 8am-4pm on weekends.

Fifteen Pounds on Urbanspoon

Cheshire: 583 Gilbert Road, West Preston

I finally made it to Cheshire, a place that’s been on my list for a while. My first time, it was very busy. The layout and decor was nothing special, perhaps a tad small and cramped inside seating-wise, but luckily some people were leaving the communal table so we didn’t have to wait.

We both ordered lattes, which were fairly standard. I don’t drink coffee a lot now so I can’t claim to be an expert in this area. So on to the food – I ordered baked polenta with poached eggs, spinach, caramelised onion and extra chorizo (below). You know, just in case I would still be hungry….and I definitely wasn’t.

The meal was lovely, everything from the eggs to chorizo were perfectly cooked and I enjoyed the caramelised onions. It was faultless, but I don’t think a dish like this will stand out in my head when I think back to my brunch outings.

My friend ordered the caramelised scrambled eggs ($13) with extra mushrooms and chorizo too (below). I believe the toast might have been a little hard in some sections, so it was difficult to cut and eat, but the remainder of the dish was not bad. Once again, nothing that really stands out but a decent place to satisfy typical brunch and breakfast cravings.

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The staff are fairly attentive and nice, so that’s a plus, and thus I didn’t really mind coming back to visit with my other friend as it was near our hairdresser. The weather was nice this time, thus outdoor seating was fine and more spacious for us (seated on a table for four). It also wasn’t as busy during this Saturday lunch time, compared to the previous visit during a Sunday morning.

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I was curious as to what was on the specials’ board, so my friend went around to take a picture of it. The nice waiter witnessed this, then brought it around and placed it right in front of us.

In an indulgent mood, I went for a sweet meal of pear pancakes with chantilly cream, maple syrup, roasted hazelnuts and cinnamon sugar (below, $15) paired with an iced chocolate.


Iced chocolate

The iced chocolate was tall and enticing, although the top didn’t look like a lot of thought had gone into this part of the presentation. My friend also ordered an iced coffee, which looked a bit pale compared to other places.

The pancakes were stacked and provided an excellent sweet flavour, courtesy of the chantilly cream. I’m usually not a fan of cream but this one won me over, a little subtler and more flavoursome than whipped cream. The stack was thick but I don’t feel there was enough maple syrup to go with this many pancakes. The hazelnuts were nice and crunchy, so overall I was happy with ny choice as it was perfect to indulge in.

Pear pancakes

My friend ordered poach eggs on toast (below, $10) with some extra tomato and chorizo. The eggs were not perfectly done, in fact they looked strangely pale and yellow and not deep and orange. As you can see, one egg is also a bit broken. Hence, the cafe didn’t prove itself amazing with this dish.

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Thus, Cheshire can often provide you the comfort breakfast food you need, the staff are friendly and accommodating but they’re not an extremely standout cafe.

Cheshire is open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm and 8am-4pm on weekends.

Cheshire on Urbanspoon

St Alexander’s Kitchen: 130A Alexander Ave, Thomastown

If you’re still dying for a little more or you just want to drool at some more pictures of the food I eat, I’ve written a Weekendnotes article on St Alexander’s Kitchen after my second trip. My first trip is documented in my previous Brunch in the North post, however my article takes in to account both visits.

St Alexander's Kitchen

In short, the Spanish omelette (top) was massive and tasty, and the Hangover breakfast (bottom) was a bit salty. The toast was a bit hard this time around and they might want to cut back on parmesan in some areas… but I enjoyed my omelette nonetheless and I love their stacked presentation of their dishes and homely feel.

St Alexander's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Read more here and also feel free to recommend me other good places in the northern suburbs!

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Brunch in the North

As a “northsider”, it’s natural for me to be curious as to what foodie goodies the suburbs have stored. When you’re not in the mood to travel to a highly rated cafe in the inner suburbs and suffer a wait, it’s good every now and again to explore your own area.

Miss Marie: 45 Beetham Parade, Rosanna

Miss Marie is a small cafe that lies in a street near Rosanna Station. It’s often bustling with locals and mums and bubs. The first time I went, I could not resist the French toast ($13.50, above) with banana and bacon! Drenched in syrup and covered in icing sugar, I enjoyed the meal immensely and had never heard of bacon with French toast before! (Apparently, it’s a Canadian thing?) The banana looks a little burnt in the photo but from memory, it was just slightly charred and did not make the dish any less enjoyable.

My second outing, my starving friend and I went immediately for the Big Breakfast ($16.50) and two pots of tea. The only slight problems included our waitress forgetting which tea was which, and two overly attached bees that drove us to move our meal inside.

Overall, it’s a good local place that can serve traditional breakfast dishes just as good as anywhere else for reasonable prices. There’s usually sufficient street parking and it is a good down-to-earth place for a long chat.

Miss Marie on Urbanspoon

Tyler St Cafe: 235A Tyler St, Preston

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Preston is a suburb not particularly short of brunch places, but amidst the popular cries for Jackson Dodds and Cheshire (both of which I’m yet to try), my friend convinced me to try a tiny cafe hidden on Tyler St.

I can’t believe I haven’t noticed it before, as it’s just off Plenty Rd and I go past that corner all the time. The shop seemed to be run by one man, who I presume is the owner. He was happy to take our drink orders as we walked in, despite running other orders. We chuckled at the Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie Beans on the menu, whilst we observed the seating inside was quite basic but had some interesting knickknacks such as this little board dedicated to Marilyn Monroe (above).

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I chose the Calabrese eggs ($12.50, pictured) with extra chorizo and mushrooms ($7), whilst my friends had different sandwiches (ranging from $8-$12). The owner was quite entertaining, a joker who kept teasing my friend who asked for no parmesan, and looked at my other friend weirdly when she ordered a vegetarian sandwich – with bacon. The servings were large (or was that just because of my extras?) and I enjoyed the tomato paste with my sausage and eggs.

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I would love to go back, but the other items on the menus don’t stand out to me from any other cafe. Maybe if I’m in the area and in the mood for a sandwich and a bit of entertainment from the owner!

Tyler St Cafe on Urbanspoon

St Alexander’s Kitchen: 130A Alexander Ave, Thomastown

Even closer to home (hope this is not revealing to everyone where I live haha), is St Alexander’s Kitchen. This is perhaps, the most surprising and hidden, as after my friend and I parked, we were doubtful if we were in the right place and if the joint was even open. It’s on a little strip of shops in Thomastown near a Foodworks store, and wasn’t bright from the outside, with just a little dingy sign to lead us in.

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The surprising thing about them, is that they are known for their pizzas for dinner, so who knew they would be exceptionally good at serving brunch. They only serve it on weekends, so it might explain why many people don’t know. The staff were attentive, but it wasn’t busy so I can only judge from this experience. Their decor was another collection of antiques that you would find at a garage sale, and it was cute nevertheless.

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I’m on a coffee ban so I ordered my other usual besides tea, a refreshing mango juice. I chose the Shakshuka ($15, above), scrambled eggs with pastrimi, cheese and tomato. You will come to know from my blogs I don’t like a lot of things: coconut, tomato, pineapple etc. But sometimes the deliciousness of something can outweigh the inclusion of these ingredients….or I just give it to my friends to eat.

It was delicious, but towards the end I had to give up on the leftover tomato. It’s also a very large portion and uniquely plated. I particularly enjoyed the presentation of my friend’s Eggs Benedict ($14, above – credit to my friend’s Instagram photo), which was stacked very high. I’m impressed it didn’t topple over.

Out of all these places, I would like to go back to St Alexander’s, as their menu has a few other things, like omelettes, that I wouldn’t mind trying, and it’s not very far for my friends and I. They have an outdoor seating at the back that I would like to try on a good Melbourne weather day and of course, I might need to try their pizzas for dinner some time!

St Alexander's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

I have many more places to explore, and many more I haven’t mentioned. Stay tuned, recommend me some good places in the north, or give me your thoughts on these places!