Monday, September 6, 2010

Wall Two 80, Balaclava by Snooze

Simplicity is the order of the day for me… décor, menu, flavours, service—oh, and a good breakfast too. Which means my visit to Wall Two 80 for Sunday breakfast sees me with a new favourite place.

Big Fil assured me I would like it although he remarked on the limited menu … and he knows me pretty well. You see Wall Two 80 is one of those hole in the wall places with seating outside for the warmer months and during the colder months for the intrepid, hardy Melbournites (no outdoor gas heating for them).

Smoked chicken, mustard and rocket pide

Inside it’s like visiting friends… the décor is warm and nice and the service equally so. As it was Sunday, Wall Two 80 was full of people known by name to the staff mostly congregated around the door and a few in the rear taking advantage of the relative quiet to read the Sunday paper. We ended up sitting between the two looking towards the servery.

Big Fil was right when he told me I’d like the décor… solid colours on the wall (the nicest deep auberginish red behind the counter and a glorious green where we were sitting, the warmth offered by the natural wood and the general quirkiness of the place. Not a studied, deliberate quirkiness but one determined by a small space, a small room in front of the servery and the need to comfortably fit in as much seating as possible. But at no time did I feel as though we were cheek by jowl although there were a reasonable number of people for 8.30am-ish on a Sunday morning.

I also liked how there was no demarcation between regulars and interlopers (like us)… the cheerful, pleasant wait staff dealt with everybody in exactly the same way. In my experience, that's a rarity and something that makes Wall Two 80 stand out.

Big Fil was right re the limited menu … about ten things each for breakfast and lunch and all of them basic, for example pides for lunch. Nothing, in short, that involved ‘cooking’. But what we got was well prepared and well above average.

I opted for breakfast and at first regretted my choice (and given my moaning in the past re always choosing the worst thing on the menu I’m becoming a little pessimistic) but I turned out to be wrong. Jam on toast, with hot chocolate, was an inspired choice. The bread (ciabatta) was crisp without being over done and not the usual choice in bread … but it was the jam that set it apart.

Wall Two 80 has a range of jams and they point you towards the fridge to choose which ones you want. I felt like a kid in a candy shop and for good reason… they were delicious: raspberry and grappa, apricot and cardamom, and pear, vanilla and ginger (Big Fil’s choice). In the end I had to cut up my toast and share each jam choice with Big Fil and he was nodding his head in appreciation (and eating my breakfast to boot!)… and he’s not much of a jam eater. This could definitely become a favourite breakfast… and I’m seriously thinking about not taking him next time if he’s going to eat my damn food!

Big Fil went straight for the lunch menu and chose a smoked chicken, mustard and rocket pide (see first pic). Top marks for the pide as well. The chicken was tender, the bread fresh and I loved the mustard… it was that gorgeous tasty kind that drips out of a sandwich and down your fingers. Definitely a tactile experience to eat.

Also on offer was baked beans with ham hock, feta and basil. It was tasty and fresh, and accompanied again by toasted ciabatta. Although I was happy with the serving size (eating smaller amounts per meal and more often per day), the serving size could have been larger.

I’d have to push myself to fault Wall Two 80: the food arrived quickly, the food was fresh and well chosen, the decor warm and inviting, the background music something like an old fashioned Herbie Hancock, and the wait staff friendly. My advice to others: arrive early or face a long wait, concentrate more on the atmosphere (or coffee?) than the range of food, and don’t plan on a long stay. Others will be waiting for your table.

Food – 8
Service – 8
Ambience – 8
Price – 7.5

Rear 280 
Carlisle Street
Balaclava Vic 3183
Tel: (03) 9593 8280

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