Located at the end of Hawthorn Road, Marmalade isn't one of Melbourne's great cafes. It is however a very good local café, the sort of place most people would be more than happy to have as their neighborhood favorite. And given that it's a good but appetite enhancing walk from my place I guess that includes me.
The set up looks appealing when you enter, the menu includes a few interesting options and the cakes behind the front counter look suburb, the brownies and slices up there with the best in Melbourne. Staff are friendly and its obviously well known and liked, so that I was lucky that I was able to walk straight up to an empty table on both of my visits. You've also got to respect an Elsternwick café that goes to the effort of sourcing its bread from Dench.
Two meals here and the results were one acceptable if nothing standard out, and one very good. On the good side, the quinoa porridge with soy milk, poached fruit and vanilla honey yoghurt and a slice of ginger fluff sponge cake. The quinoa had great texture and I don't find it as heavy as regular porridge, the fruit was very nicely poached and the yoghurt a nice complement. The ginger fluff sponge was a little bit short on ginger flavours but surprisingly light and fluffy, particularly given the layers of cream.
The pesto scrambled eggs with mushrooms, truss tomatoes, crumbled feta on Turkish bread was a bit more workmanlike though. While the bread was nicely toasted and the tomatoes full of flavour, the mushrooms were ok rather than great and the eggs not as fluffy as I would have liked.
There are also a few things that could use tweeking. You could in fact easily drive straight passed it, as it looks kind of drab in amongst a drab looking shopping strip. Once you get in it is noisy, as it seems its patrons includes a flock from the chattering classes. And despite there being a reasonable number of the friendly staff service did feel a touch less organised that some other places. It also carries a slight price mark up, not to be unexpected given its Brighton East address.
One of the better options in an area not renowned for large numbers of great cafes, somewhere I'd recommend trying if you were in the area but wouldn't cross halfway around town for. It's pretty and the food is good, and if you are at the end of the 64 tram line it's worth giving a go.
Food - 7.5
Ambience - 7
Service - 7
Price - 6.5
763 Hawthorn Road
Brighton East VIC 3187
Tel: (03) 9593 2244