Just as sometimes you want a no-fuss breakfast, sometimes you want something with a bit of ‘weird’ factor. Something that would make even the most hardcore hipster do a double take. Something that would be described as ‘kooky’ if it were a contestant on a reality tv show. Without further ado, here are some of Melbourne’s most experimental cafes to satisfy your inner Heston Blumenthal.
Come to Industry Beans for the delicious coffee bubble cup (that’s single origin cold drip, condensed milk and tapioca pearls), stay for the ‘coffee garden’ dessert (that’s coffee custard pudding sprinkled with coffee caviar and served on chocolate soil). Was chocolate soil around back in your grandparents’ day, and is it a little bit too pretentious to be borne? You decide.
Not too long ago, a photo of a ‘deconstructed coffee’ posted on Facebook took over the internet, and the perpetrator of this three-beaker beverage was Weylandts, a furniture and décor store with an attached café in Abbotsford. Despite being mocked as ‘hipsterism gone too far’, the deconstructed coffee is still sitting pretty on the menu (it’s actually listed as a Deconstructed Long Macchiato, thank you very much).
The Kettle Black
It’s not often you see scrambled eggs paired with house-cured kangaroo, but you’ll find that on the menu at The Kettle Black. Their entire ethos centres on next-level experimentation, and the menu is packed with unusual pairings, like confit pork with compressed pears and polenta porridge with dehydrated basil.
If you don’t consider buttermilk waffles with fried pancetta, quince and quark eaten inside a converted shipping container in a former car park in Footscray experimental, then you’ve been living in Melbourne too long and clearly need to read this article. Rudimentary is far from basic–it’s a sleek, ultra-hip space that aims to contribute to the transformation and evolution of one of Melbourne’s most culturally rich suburbs. Plus, it serves passionfruit crumpets with crystallised nuts and barley porridge with grilled octopus.
The names of dishes at Nora are almost as experimental as their conception: ‘Daft Punk is Playing in my Mouth’ turns out to be mackerel fillet served with black sesame paste and lime snow, while Thai flavours sing in the papaya ‘pasta’. But don’t go to Nora expecting to find the same dishes each time–the menu changes monthly, and the only dependable fact is that it will be formatted for fun. Bonus: Nora just announced that they’re offering a Friday-nights-only dinner service, bookings compulsory, at $65 for five courses. Go–they’re good for much more than their legendary black charcoal tarts with pandan filling.
Too Many Chiefs
Embrace the arrival of the rainbow latte at this south-east gem. Made from regular coffee with rainbow-coloured swirls of food dye in the milk, they’re a great match for the breakfast dish of vodka-cured trout with roast beetroot, lime crème fraiche, rye croutons and son-in-law eggs. Too Many Chiefs also offers turmeric, beetroot and matcha lattes as a healthy alternative to regular coffee.
Holler if you’d like to try some honey and whisky porridge with nutmeg mascarpone and plump sultanas. Holla, the newly opened café from the team behind Prospect Espresso and Townhouse is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks, and focuses sharply on local Australian ingredients such as lemon myrtle (in your hair-of-the-dog cocktail) and bush spices (in your tomato ketchup). Better yet, brunch runs from 7am-3pm.
Some say that there is no way to improve a perfectly buttery croissant, but White Mojo’s fans beg to differ. The soft-shell crab croissant burger with oozy fried egg and smoky chipotle mayonnaise is an insane feat of imagination that should have its photo next to the definition of food porn. The menu also features cauliflower panna cotta and a compressed watermelon dish that competes with Industry Bean’s rendition. What a time to be alive, when there are two compressed watermelon dishes in one town, and ‘WTF’ is the desired response of the café proprietors.
Image Credit: Michelle Jarni for The Urban List