In a sleepy Essendon high street, there’s a little cafe doing—hands down—one of the best breakfasts we’ve eaten this year. In fact we’re fighting an urge not to jump in the car right now, go back and order another plate-full.
It’s called History Cafe, a slick all-day brunch bar and grill from Croatian chef and restaurateur Marcus Muzaferovic. By day it’s your classic modern Melbourne coffee klatch: plenty of blonde timber, handmade mod furniture, rough-cut bluestone and subway tiles. Dappled sunlight arching through the windows etc. You’ll spot a few cheeky historical flourishes too: old globes and coverless paperbacks; a 5-ft airplane propeller hanging motionless on the wall. After dark the place morphs into a wine bar and tapas joint, all low lighting and smooth jazz.
But the real magic at History happens in the kitchen. Working the pass is Michelin-trained chef Raffi Hazmi, who learned his trade at Pierre Koffmann’s La Tante Claire, back in London. Raffi designed the new look History menu, and it’s ambitious as all hell. Think house-made baba ganoush with poached eggs, crispy kale, pomegranates and burnt butter, or smoky merguez sausages alongside heirloom tomatoes, basil pesto and ewe feta.
But if we’re taking one dish to a desert island, it’s the Seasonal Local Mushrooms. This thing has Michelin class written all over it, and is probably the best mushroom meal we’ve eaten all year. Perfect poached eggs on crusty sourdough, topped with pickled enoki, shimiji and oyster mushrooms and an uber-rich mushroom puree, then drizzled with a parsley and garlic herb emulsion. The sour enoki cut through the creaminess of the puree, creating some sort of umami-tang-explosion in your mouth. Absolutely nuts.
Throw in a double shot latte (made with supreme skill by History’s barista, Lim) and you’re in brunch nirvana. The coffee comes from Abbotsford’s Locale Espresso. Everything else is handmade on site. Hazmi and Muzaferovic smoke their own bacon and kangaroo, roast their own lamb, even cure their own duck meat. The produce is locally sourced and 100% organic. And boy, can you taste the difference.
Image credit: Griffin Simm