For our first weekend breakfast after my being overseas for nearly four weeks Snooze and I headed off to Kamel, a popular café with a middle-eastern slant located on Victoria Ave, Albert Park.
One of the things that struck me when thinking about what to say about Kamel is that with the sheer number of excellent cafes around Melbourne it's possible to become a little blasé or jaded. For example, Albert Park is not one of the suburbs I generally hear people mention when talking about where the best cafes can be found in Melbourne. However, put Albert Park just about anywhere else in Australia and I could imagine it becoming a foodie hangout more than somewhere mainly for locals. With Kamel, Albert Park Deli, Laurent, Browns and the new Hausfrau all within 5 minutes walk of each other, plus Andrew's Hamburgers, Lord Cardigan and other places that looked good but that I didn't note the name of or have forgotten, the fact that it's not considered a prime spot just shows how spoiled we are.
After our visit I'd classify Kamel as a good café if not my favourite in the general area (that honour would go to Mart 130). However, it's an interesting and comfortable one with an early contender for staff quote of the year. Both Snooze and I had a chuckle after I heard one of the staff behind the counter say to our waitress "I got up at 6.45 this morning and by 6.55 I was over today". Fortunately this didn't impact on the service we received, which was friendly and polite.
With five different poached eggs dishes available Snooze decided on the poached eggs with smashed avocado on toast topped with macadamia dukkah. Smashed avocado dishes seem to be becoming a standard café offering these days and I thought Kamel's was a fairly standard café offering. My major issue with this dish is that I often find the avocado part of the dish a little bland in taste and texture. I wouldn't have described Kamel's version as bland, not exactly, but for my personal tastes I would I would have preferred something a little stronger flavoured sprinkled over the top than the macadamia dukkah.
My choice was the baked eggs in spicy tomato, Turkish sujuk and roast capsicum sauce, served with warm Turkish bread. In something of a rarity for baked eggs I found these were nicely cooked with the yolk still yellow liquid sunshine goodness (baked eggs often seem to come out in pots so hot that by the time it's cooled sufficiently to eat the eggs are overcooked). I enjoyed the sujuk as well but am not sure I'd describe the sauce as spicy, I thought it was a little runny and mild in flavour.
As a breakfast venue Kamel was a nice place to eat. The front room was warm, cosy and early in the morning not overcrowded, with lots of interesting things to view and contemplate while waiting for your meal. Service wasn't overly quick so not sure how they'd cope if busy but staff were friendly and their overheard conversations entertaining. There are also apparently two other rooms out the back which Snooze checked out and reported as nice. The major issue to me is that the menu looked very interesting and had me quite excited about our visit, but the way our dishes were executed seemed designed more for someone else's tastebuds than my own.
Food - 7.5
Service - 7
Ambience - 7.5
Price - 7
19 Victoria Avenue
Albert Park VIC 3206
Tel: (03) 9696 1386