Friday, October 15, 2010

Small Block, Brunswick by Big Fil

When I told some friends I was going to try out a café on Lygon Street I received a number of querying looks. I agree there are issues with the strip of Italian restaurants and cafes along the city end of Lygon Street. While this may once have been the place for Italian food in Melbourne, those days are long past. I know there are still some good restaurants along there but most of the Italian ones are terrible, especially those that have to spruik for custom because of a lack of returning customers.

I particularly get annoyed at the number of straight out lies told by some of the staff there to get trusting customers into their restaurant. On one occasion a waitress outside a nearly empty cafe told me the risotto was prepared by her grandmother. Now, when the kitchen door opened you could see who was cooking and the only way it could have been her grandmother is if she was a 25-30 year old Indian guy, and what are the odds of that?

But what can be forgotten is that Lygon Street continues past the old Melbourne Cemetery into Brunswick, and there are a whole set of interesting places to eat up there, including Small Block.

Small Block is a minimalist/industrial chic sort of café. I normally like this approach but I think Small Block may take it just a step too far. It almost feels like it's unfinished, like almost everything is in place but there are just a couple more additions to make before opening in two or three days time.

The other issue I have with Small Block is the seating. I'm not sure what's the idea with the seats but I suspect even lower primary school kids would find them small. Small Block ends up as somewhere I wouldn't want to hang around for hours, chatting and drinking coffee. A pity really, because these are the only real quibbles I had.

My favourite dish was the ricotta pancakes with saffron and vanilla pear and Barbados cream. I'm sometimes reluctant to order dishes with poached pear ... I'm put off by the number of times the pear can taste woody. This one however was excellent, one of the best I've had. Firm but tender, and quite sweet. I may have been the lucky one and got the pick of the litter, but I couldn't fault it. The cream was lovely and fresh, and the pancakes nicely crisp.

The sweet corn and chilli fritters, with bacon, chilli relish and cream was also very good. The fritters themselves were moist and full of delicious sweet corn flavours, but if someone had told me the relish was tomato rather than chilli I wouldn't have argued. A very spicy chilli would probably have been overpowering as a breakfast dish, but this was very mild.

Finally, and while still good, my least favourite dish would be the Eggs Benedict. The reason why is not that I didn't like it, or even it was a poorly made dish. It was more about it not being as good as the other two dishes, and what I'd expect at most of the better than average cafes around Melbourne. Not majorly wrong things ... the bacon that could have been slightly crisper, and a muffin that was slightly difficult to cut with the knife provided. On the upside the eggs were perfectly runny. Good but not a prize winner.

One thing I particularly liked was that when I turned up just before the café opened, the staff let me in anyway and asked if I'd like a coffee while waiting for the kitchen to open. This was such a nice friendly gesture which took this from a place I'd recommend trying if in the area to somewhere that’s worth going a bit out of the way to visit. Well done to that guy behind the coffee machine. Not the best place to while away the hours but good, well prepared and easy to eat food at reasonable prices. Nice hot chocolates too.

Food - 8
Service - 7.5
Ambience - 6
Prices - 7

130 Lygon Street
Brunswick VIC 3057
Tel : (03) 9381 2244

Small Block on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...