Sunday, January 30, 2011

Red Door Corner Store, Northcote by Snooze

An eclectic vintage/modern mix look is increasingly popular in Melbourne ... and no arguments from me because I love the look. It's been my choice since the early 1980s when it definitely wasn't in. And with red thrown into the mix, I have to love the way it's done at the red door corner store. It's obviously already the main theme must be an emphasis on red: on the exterior alone it's the roof, signage, street number, the red door (of course), seating and it's continued both inside and out to the leafy exterior courtyard.

Sweet potato and corn fritter with tomato kasundi, organic bacon, poached egg and fresh spinach

But what I like is how the red doesn't feel as though someone said let's have a red theme and then made everything red, and how a second subtler theme supports the red: a baking theme. Part of one wall inside is covered with framed baking trays, patty tins and mini tart tins and beside that red door is an eclectic mix of trays to cool cakes and scones on. I had no idea there were so many different kinds. But the baking related item I liked best was the whimsical use of a green enamelled gas stove in the garden as the waitress station. It looks so cute.

Given the temperature by 9.30am (we were well on our way to a 40C day), a cold drink was in order and I chose a pear, apple and blueberry juice. It came in a heavyweight glass screw top bottle rather than the usual glass. The chilled glass bottle was a nice choice and the only downside for me was how small the drink was. I could have drunk two.

Not only do I like breakfast to set me up for the day, but I'm not averse to a little spice in my life. My choice, the sweet potato and corn fritter with tomato kasundi, organic bacon, poached egg and fresh spinach delivered on both fronts (see first pic). This is the first time I've seen corn fritters on a menu although Big Fil assures me he sees them around and likes to order them when he does. (It's definitely starting to become a tug of war between the two of us over certain things on the menu.)

I also hadn't heard of kusundi before, but apparently it's a rich tomato sauce or pickle which originates in India. Wherever it comes from I like it, and it was a great accompaniment to the dish. The fritter was light and delicate, and the poached egg perfectly cooked. There was no identifiable smell of vinegar and the egg was tear drop shaped and looked ready to burst. And what was great was how the kasundi complemented the dish: the heat of its chilli, the tang from its vinegar, the earthiness of its spices and the touch of sweetness from the palm sugar. Both Big Fil and I enjoyed this dish. (Big Fil said I had to mention the bacon because it was good too: crisp and not hard/dry because it was over cooked).

The french toast was a substantial looking dish, with the toast eggy as Big Fil likes it. Both Big Fil and I thought the pear looked pureed when it arrived rather than poached, and the only downside to the pear was its quantity (or maybe it just looked dwarfed by the size of the french toast). The cinnamon labna was nice, its slight sourness an interesting change to the more usual mascarpone or ricotta. The slight sourness also offset the french toast and prevented the dish from being overly sweet. To use Big Fil's words: a very good french toast ... that is, he said it after he'd scoffed the lot.

The housemade fresh coconut crumpets with orange blossom honey and french butter was another choice of Big Fil's. The addition of coconut changed the crumpet's texture completely, with Big Fil likening the texture to the texture often found with homemade wholemeal scones. After this, Big Fil and I had parted ways re the taste: I thought the taste wasn't changed taste significantly. The crumpets were also fresh from the oven when they arrived, and while I loved the orange blossom honey per se, the crumpets might have been better with a stronger tasting honey such as leatherwood.

Our final taste test was a Portuguese tart. Big Fil and I are both big fans of these but I felt a little let down because, while the pastry was flaky and delicately oily, the filling didn't seem to have any flavour. I'm not sure whether this happened because the tart was straight out of the oven and the custard was so hot it was almost at burning temperature, but I'm prepared to put them to test again.

Melbourne has so many above average cafes (decor and food wise) with the red door corner store making the cut above them. It's obviously popular with the locals too who have a great choice of seating: outside front, air conditioned inside or the leafy courtyard to take their leisure. red door also has an extensive range of food to go. I like its location on a quiet suburban street away from busy High Street, and it's within a reasonable walking distance of both train and tram. If I lived closer (and I so wish I did because I haven't found anything close enough to it in the southern suburbs), it would be my choice to meet friends for a coffee or a light meal.

Food - 8
Ambience - 8
Service - 7
Price - 7

70 Mitchell street
Northcote VIC 3070
Tel: (03) 9489 8040

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