Monday, October 18, 2010

Three Bags Full, Abbotsford by Big Fil

Snooze and I've mentioned before we like the industrial chic type of cafes that are springing up around inner Melbourne. I know they're not really a fresh concept anymore and can feel a bit derivative, with similar food, communal tables and menus. But the reason they are so popular is that when done with care and a bit of thought they work really well.

Some people have criticised Three Bags Full because it no longer has that novelty appeal. This might be true, and maybe it doesn't earn brownie points for originality. However, as long as the concept is good and it's done well--as it is as Three Bags Full--it seems unfair to judge a place solely on that basis. After all, should Melburnians reject laneway coffee shops just because they have been around for years? When Snooze and myself visited for the first time just after eight on a miserable Saturday morning we found the food and service very good, and the prices reasonable.

It didn't hurt either that the cafe's located in a converted hat factory designed and created by Melbourne's most noted architect: William Pitt. The building might not measure up to The Rialto and The Princess Theatre in the Melbourne CBD but I think it has a charm to it and (apparently) it's acknowledged for its architectural significance. (You've got to love Google for finding out interesting stuff!)

At the moment I'm semi-addicted to pancakes and went with the ricotta hot-cakes, served with seasonal poached fruit, and honey and orange infused ricotta. The seasonal fruit was pear and rhubarb, served with raspberries and blueberries. While I'm not always the chattiest person when eating, I think I was even quieter than normal this time reflecting on how good this was. The raspberries and blueberries were fine but the pear and rhubarb were outstanding: both firm but tender, the pear slightly sweet and the rhubarb with a hint of tartness. Most importantly, the honey didn't render the ricotta overly sweet and the orange gave it a lighter and more interesting flavour. In a word, yum.

Snooze went with the 'smashed' avocado - toasted sourdough bread with avocado, Persian feta, olive oil and pepitas, with a small slice of lemon. Again, another very good breakfast. Both Snooze and myself have had issues recently with toasted bread that sat in that uncomfortable middle ground, not toasted so far as to be burnt but still hard to cut with the knife provided. No such issues here. The avocado was still firm enough to avoid that baby food like texture it sometimes has, and the lemon gave it a tang and interesting aftertaste. I thought the hot-cakes were better (although Snooze doesn't agree), but wouldn't have been unhappy to have ordered this as a breakfast either.

To finish our breakfast off we shared a piece of the chocolate cheesecake brownie. This wasn't quite what I was expecting, with the texture being much closer to that of a cheesecake than a brownie. I thought this improved the brownie though rather than being a problem. As opposed to the overly dense slab of chocolate you can sometimes get this was creamy, with the chocolate and cheese flavours individually distinguishable rather than a chocolatey flavoured cheese. The brownie part came in the form of a biscuit-like base, adding a chewy texture without making it heavy as a breakfast treat.

I really enjoyed my visit. The food was high quality, the surroundings nice, and the staff efficient and very friendly. It's not a one-of-a-kind place which nobody else knows about and you can brag about finding it on your own but hey, success and popularity ain't no sin. It seemed to be a good place for families too, with several sitting near us (and without interfering with the enjoyment of other diners. Well done those babies). Maybe I haven't seen it at its busiest, and certainly haven't delved deeply into its menu, but it was hard to pick any faults with our visit.

Food - 8.5
Ambience - 8.5
Service - 8
Prices - 7

56 Nicholson Street
Abbotsford VIC 3067
Tel: (03) 9421 2732

Three Bags Full on Urbanspoon

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