I have to say I do like Footscray. Sure it might have a few rough edges but I think it’s one of the most interesting parts of town. It’s the prime Melbourne example of the mosaic version of multiculturalism in action, where groups of people originating from different parts of the world come together while each still maintains (to a greater or lesser extent) a distinct cultural background. And of course the classic way in which we share in this cultural bounty is through food. Footscray just has so many cheap but good places to eat it can be a bit overwhelming. It’s best known for its Vietnamese food but if you want Indian, East African or home style Latin American it’s the place to be.
What I don’t normally associate it with is good Melbourne style cafes. In the western suburbs Seddon or Newport yes, but not Footscray itself and particularly not near Footscray train station. Footscray Milking Station brings something new to the immediate area or at least something new to me, somewhere worth travelling to for brunch.
When we were walking down the street we had a ‘is that it or not moment’. Both of us had neglected to bring the address and while we knew generally where it was there is no signage at the front, just a grey painted corner shop with green door.
Consequently while we were indecisive two others walked through the front door and managed to grab the last interior table – damn! Inside the space is a long, narrow space with limited seating. The colours are primarily white with the warmth coming from the bare brick wall at the front. The front glass counter is full of cakes, croissant and other assorted goodies, and towards the back the wooden shelves are full of tea, jam and sauces for sale.
Missing out on sitting inside wasn’t all bad though as we got to try the chilly but endearing back courtyard, complete with miniature lemon tree, strawberry patch and metal chicken hiding behind a pot.
For breakfast the menu is a little more limited than I had expected but still contained enough potential choices that we took a few minutes to make up our minds. Because it was cold and to stall for time both Snooze and myself headed for hot drinks, Snooze a breakfast tea (presumably from T2 given that these were displayed on the inside) and me my usual hot chocolate. One thing immediately obvious when sipping the hot chocolate was the addition of cinnamon, which Snooze had noticed but having neglected to read the drinks section of the menu I had not. Good move that, well adding the cinnamon to give the chocolate a slightly spicy tastebud tingle not neglecting to fully read the menu.
Finally ready to order in a bit of a role reversal Snooze went for an unusual sago porridge, with coconut milk, cardamom, fresh papaya and coriander, with some toast and jam on the side. My choice, the omelette with prosciutto wrapped asparagus and squaucquerone cheese.
One thing I particularly like is when cafes take a bit of a risk on something a bit different, something you wouldn’t see somewhere else. Certainly I don’t remember seeing sago porridge on a breakfast menu before, let alone with cardamom or coriander. While the flavour of the coriander and the sweet papaya certainly came through, I didn’t really notice the aroma or taste of the cardamom. Also, to me porridge is a stick to the ribs winter wakeup food, whereas this was soft and sweet and more in the dessert line. So while it was novel and interesting I don’t think I’d order it on a return visit.
Better though was my omelette. Loved the choice of cheese, so many places seem to want to match fetta with breakfast and in my view that too often results in an unappetising dish, overly heavy and gluggy in texture. Whereas this matched perfectly with the fluffy egg, light and a little stretchy and complementing the other flavours rather than overwhelming them. The only thing I would have changed was that for me the bread was a bit over toasted, making it a little hard to cut with the knife provided.
What was the unexpected winner though was the jam served with Snooze’s toast. After racking our brains we eventually asked our waitress what was in it in addition to the berries – citrus peel, livening up the flavours and breaking up the sweetness.
Hats off to a small but popular cafe, with a small but warm and welcoming interior, a courtyard out the back to handle the overflow, and friendly chatty staff. A big raspberry though to the group at the table next to us, who despite having one burner dedicated to them decided because they were cold they would move the burner they were sharing with us closer to them, one of the rudest things I have seen in a cafe for a while.
Food – 7.5
Ambience – 7.5
Service – 8
Price – 7
35 Bunbury Street
Footscray VIC 3011
Tel: 03 9029 9240