Most of Melbourne's new inner-suburb cafes seem to go for a variation on one of three themes; grungy, industrial or kitsch. Offering an antidote to the feelings of déjà vu this sometimes engenders is the comparative veteran Richmond Hill Café and Larder.
Forgetting it was Mothers' Day, Snooze and I wrongly thought an 8.45 start would enable us to choose between a selection of tables. Between the window seat looking into the cheese larder, sitting at the bar or outside in the cold we went for a internal window seat adjacent to the cheese larder.
With a full house in a room with polished floorboards it was noisy, but unlike some cafes it was the pleasant background noise of people out for a good breakfast rather than the intimate involvement in other people's conversations. While our bench seats were somewhat cramped, and near the kitchen and register, it was still a nice place to sit and appreciate the vibe of the café.
The café feels quite different to most Melbourne cafes. While not out of place in Richmond I could well imagine it in lots of other locations, a produce outlet in the King Valley, a winery restaurant in the Barossa. It's warm, full of light and comfortably sits in that space between café and restaurant.
The food is about quality produce, well prepared and nicely presented. My choice of the Baghdad eggs came with two fried eggs with lemon and garlic, sprinkled with cumin and mint and served with the waitress recommended spicy sausage. First impression was of a wonderful smell from the mint and cumin, second was of nicely fried eggs with runny golden centres. The sausage complemented well the spices in the rest of the dish, and to quote Snooze I just 'hoovered it up'.
Snooze's choice was the corn and coriander fritters, with smoked salmon, spinach, RHCL tomato and capsicum relish and a poached egg. The corn fritters were unusually light and fluffy, almost pancake like in texture, with a delicate corn flavour. Combined with good smoked salmon and a perfectly poached egg; again a very nice breakfast.
While the front counter is a bit light on for cake options we tried the chocolate cupcakes and a small shortbread biscuit. The cupcake was quite simple but well executed, with a chocolate twirl on top, the icing almost mousse like and beautifully moist cake. The accompanying biscuit was fresh and buttery.
I had read some concerns about the service here but I found it friendly and professional. Dropped knifes at a nearby table were quickly replaced, staff recommendations about different dishes were valuable and the food came out at an acceptable rate given the number of patrons.
With good food and service combined lively surrounds there is a lot to like about Richmond Hill Café & Larder. While the food may not reach outside of the box some of it does push against the walls a little. It doesn't come particularly cheap though, with two breakfasts, a cupcake/biscuit and tea/hot chocolate pushing the $50 mark. So while I can't see it as my everyday café it's a good choice for a special occasion brunch.
Food - 8
Service - 8
Ambience - 8
Price - 6.5
48-50 Bridge Road
Richmond Vic 3121
Tel: (03) 9421 2808