Same, but different.

Posted on August 26, 2011


Choosing a breakfast place in Melbourne is tough, not because we have a limited supply of cafe’s but because we are simply spoiled for choice. I love trying new things, but there are times when I want the comfort of the familiar, something I know will be good every time. If you want a reliable breakfast, head north to Jackson Dodd’s. Winning the title of the ‘best breakfast of the year’ by the Age Cheap Eats Guide,  I was fascinated to see whether it still had the innovative menu and great service it initially won the award for. Arriving for a late breakfast, I sat in the gaze of the sun, waiting for our order to be taken.  It was either a tough day behind the kitchen or the waiter was grumpy, but I felt like I was a burden. The cafe itself is situated in a very unusual, industrial spot on Gilbert Street in Preston. The vibe is representative of most popular cafe’s in the north of Melbourne: Kitschy meets suburban mum. Miss matched furniture, eclectic ornaments and vintage kitchen gadgets hang on the walls. The look and vibe are on trend. It has a very warm atmosphere and apart from this odd occasion,the staff have always been welcoming.

I ordered a latte and my eating partner enjoyed a long black. The coffee is from Supreme and is fair trade organic. Both were great, beautiful coffee artistry is usually the sign of an experienced barista. We tried the salmon bagel with riata, and the omelette with sujuk sausage and goats feta. What I have always loved about this place, is their ability to fuse ingredients and styles to create a cultural explosion. The fusion of flavours and cooking techniques excites me. This time I was slightly disappointed that the menu hadn’t changed much from my first trip.

The salmon bagel arrived with a dollop of riata on top  and with a side serving of salad. The flavours were there, the ingredients were fresh, but it needed a stronger knife. My dining companion awkwardly attacked the bagel with the butter knife given and gave up quickly. Instead, she dissected the salmon bagel and all the elements separately, even though I knew she wanted nothing more than a blend of flavours in each bite. Although it sounds like a petty, I believe the best advice is to eat from your menu and be critical before serving it to others. On the other hand, the bagel was one of the best I have had in Melbourne, chewy without being heavy, crisp and fresh.

The middle eastern inspired omelette was delicious, the combination of sujuk sausage and goats feta worked to complement rather than overpower the egg. The sujuk was not as spicy as I like, but cooked till lightly charred. I would have loved some goats feta as a side serve, because it was light, smooth and slightly tangy.

Whilst I bathed in Melbourne’s winter sun, I admired that the cafe was so successful despite its odd location and view of a car mechanic’s lot. Was it as good as the last time, no. Would I return, yes.  I was so impressed with my last visit that I found it hard to let go of my expectations this time round.   A lovely seasonal menu with interesting flavour combinations that lightens up a rather bland strip in Preston….

Jackson Dodds on Urbanspoon

What is a day without chocolate?

To coincide a lovely day in the sun, my guest decided to spoil me silly, with a lovely hot chocolate and macaron at Shocolate in Fitzroy. This place is a chocolate lovers playground, creating artisan chocolate and cakes to rival any around the world. The have a range of chocolate sold by the block, hand moulded chocolates, coconut coated pralines, passionfruit truffles and a range of macarons. My eating partners and I choose the chefs blend hot chocolate, a latte and a long black.  I sample four macarons: salty caramel, white & dark chocolate, biscuit and berry & yoghurt.

Our drinks arrived and my eating partner who has worked as a barista, declared that it was a beautifully made coffee with a perfect velvety texture. It looked sensational. My hot chocolate was a blend of dark chocolate, nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon zest. It was served with a jug of frothed milk. Definitely not your average hot chocolate, the blend was very interesting, and I loved the heat from the spice. I would have liked a thicker and richer texture, to complement the bold flavours.

The macarons were fresh, without the chewy texture which to me has become an indicator of an old macaron. Oddly, I enjoy the chewy texture at times and have become accustomed to this style. I’m not sure if the idea of a biscuit flavour works effectively. The biscuit macaron was boring and a little bland in flavour, the berry yoghurt and salty caramel macarons were great. The berry yoghurt is fresh and zingy, while the salty caramel needed a stronger caramel flavour. My favourite was their award-winning black and white macaron: the filling is a mixture of whipped vanilla ganache and 75 per cent Tanzanian chocolate ganache. I have yet to try a macaron with such well-balanced flavour. The ganache filling is unlike anything I have tried before, incredibly light and creamy, while the dark chocolate is spicy and bold. I have also tried the praline balls and the elderberry and lemongrass macarons on a previous occasion, which are my favourite.

 Overall the experience was a positive one, filled to the brim, I enjoyed my sweet treats, and tried to ignore the hefty price tag of three dollars per macaron. Be prepared to spend up, it’s well worth th money….

Shocolate on Urbanspoon

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