Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cafe Sweethearts

263 Coventry Street, South Melbourne
ph. 03 9690 6752

Love... love me do, you know I love you....for many people in Melbourne, not enough praise can be sung for South Melbourne’s Cafe Sweethearts. Basking in the sun with large glass windows set for a view of a lake lined with weeping willows, this cafe looks like it belongs in Daylesford – quite the contrast from other Melbourne haunts that pride themselves on their dark alluring hidden locations, emo-pop wait staff in order to manifest that much publicised Melbourne cafe culture.

Walking into Sweethearts you are greeted by wait-staff who acknowledge you with a smile then hastily run back to the counter, mutter amongst themselves and then in a cool calm collected manner graciously seat you at your table which can take the form of bar seats over looking Coventry Street or wooden tables against cushion seated walls – so country. Cosily placed on my cushion seat with my coffee order already in the system it was time to relax.

The gentle vibe of Sweethearts suits itself to brunch out with grandma and mum, visiting parents or a place to meet people who you don’t know so well –it won’t offend anyone and you can be assured the food will win hearts over.

Spanning over 4 pages the brunch menu exhausts all egg combinations known to man...and chicken. Everything from Benedict with ham, with salmon, with avocado to scrambled eggs on rye with this that and the next thing. They even managed to put a fried egg on the Lumberjack Pancakes with Bacon and Maple Syrup.

A table favourite was the Eggs Benedict with Avocado. Essentially an English muffin split, toasted, topped with a couple of slices of avo followed by two very oozy bright poached eggs –Taa-da! Not rocket science but simple and fresh. The one thing I did however struggle with and have done many times before is; when they make the eggs that god-dam runny do they really think that a measly English muffin is going to soak it all up? Am I really expected to just say sayonara to all that delicious egg yolk on my plate? Maybe cafes should start a movement where they leave left over crusts in a basket on your table for you to mop up residual yolk. Genius.

The sweet pancakes are made with oat providing a great nutty taste – clearly egg whites have been well whipped before going into the batter to make a very light cake. The serving size is generous as is the side jug of thick maple syrup. If you are only looking for a little indulgence I would suggest opting for daily baked muffins on the counter. It would be ignorant to dismiss Sweethearts as an egg and pancake shop only; spinach and herb polenta, roesti and fruit toast and muesli/porridge variations also adorn the menu.

If I was to sum Cafe Sweethearts up in one word I would say consistent; consistently good coffee, consistently fresh ingredients, consistent service – consistent stream of customers. It is not the cheapest in town, nor the funkiest – we are talking a beige decor here. However like your first love, no one forgets Cafe Sweethearts and everyone likes to visit their ol’ sweetheart once and a while.
The Rocks
1 Schnapper Point Drive
Ph. 03 5973 5599

There is a lot to be said for the saying ‘there is a time and place for everything’. The Rocks of Mornington has its place and time – but breakfast is not it. Offering a “unique fresh air dining experience with an absolute waterfront setting” it is worth the visit...for a late lunch or dinner. However as visitors to the area we entrusted the local knowledge of Nancy from the Mornington Peninsula Information Centre and meandered down there for our bacon and egg fix. Just what we needed to gear us up for a day of wine tasting!

Sitting as part of what appears to be Mornington Yacht Club; The Rocks has a great sea-side vibe that slips you into holiday mode before you can say catch-of-the-day. Taking our seat in the undercover veranda area known as ‘The Deck’ we were left for a few minutes wondering if this was table or self service. Once our menu arrived things seemed to kick into action a little more; coffee orders were taken and water put on the table. The local brew of Five Senses Mornington coffee was on offer.

Salivating at the thought of bacon and eggs or some French toast we were a little disappointed to see there was no formal breakfast, let alone brunch menu – apparently this is only found in ‘The Dining Room’ – the formal part of The Rocks, for us it was either a muffin or straight into the salt and pepper squid. It had not yet ticked over 11am and I was struggling to make a decision. Sweet corn and zucchini fritters with thyme and sea salt roasted tomatoes came to my rescue and my male companions thought the Wagyu beef burger sounded like a pretty good compromise to the big breakfast.

Our meals arrived after a good 20 minutes of gazing at row boats, incoming fishing charters and tankers in the horizon. The fritters were deep fried which served well to line my stomach for the day’s activities but they were in dire need of lashings of salt. It was served with a basic salad and some crusty bread. The Wagyu burger was the winner on the day; flavoursome homemade onion chutney, gutsy beef patty without the greasy aftertaste and some corker potato chips on the side. From my opinion it the food was satisfactory, adjective. Giving satisfaction sufficient to meet a demand or requirement; adequate. Had I the chance to view and eat off The Dining Room brunch menu it may have been a different story with the likes of ricotta pancakes with poached peaches and basil ($15), Spanish style baked beans with eggs ($16) and of course the big breakfast ($19) which true to tradition, didn’t adorn one bit of seafood.

The Rocks is not cheap but if you have travelled to the Peninsula because you want to feel like you are at the peninsula then this is the place to be. With seagulls flying over the water, the smell of sea in the air the view works hard to make up for the mediocre cafe that is The Deck at The Rocks.