Monday, November 1, 2010

Birdman Eating,Fitzroy by Big Fil

I don't really get the name 'Birdman Eating'.

According to their card 'Birdman invoked many memories. From the Moomba festival to the ancient myth of Icarus to the little child in all of us wanting to fly like a bird. A word became a name and a little business was born. Birdman follows its dreams and reminds us to always have an open and free spirit towards others.'

Is it just me, or is that just a little pretentious for a café, even a pretty good one like Birdman Eating? I can imagine wanting to spread their love of food, wanting to help people understand how food reflects where it has come from or to make people think differently about food. But reminding us to have an open and free spirit towards others sounds to me more appropriate for a fair trade vegan café rather than a fairly upmarket if quirky and inner city place.

Anyway, Snooze, Ms Counting her Calories and myself headed off to try Birdman Eating on the day God was doing his spring cleaning. The pollen was so thick in the air it almost looked like it was snowing. By the time we had walked out to the café we were all suffering its effects to a greater or lesser extent and we headed for the inside tables rather than sitting outside.

The inside has these birdman figures hanging from the ceiling. As much as the explanation of the café's name annoyed me a bit, I did like these decorations. If you are going to take a name a little left of centre you need to be able to pick it up and run with it.

I also like the staff at Birdman Eating. Friendly, cheerful and helpful. Even the guy who I assume was the owner displayed a fair sense of humour when describing his kippers, and an appreciation of the funny side of fish is not something you come across everyday. My only real issue is that even with the café less than full the food was quite slow to come out, an issue for those of us who had walked up from the city.

Snooze and Ms Counting her Calories both went for different versions of the baked eggs - tomato, eggplant, chickpea and paprika and the caponata, capsicum, zucchini and eggplant. While neither of these were bad dishes I certainly think there are better available around Melbourne.

Of the two I thought Snoozes was the better, with the chickpeas adding some texture to the dish and the paprika a touch of spice. Ms Counting her Calories and myself both agreed that something was missing from her dish, maybe some chorizo or some chilli relish to give it a bit of a kick. Given that there were a number of other interesting looking dishes on the menu I'm not sure I'd order the baked eggs here again, or at least not these versions.

A pleasant surprise was the French toast. When I ordered I didn't pay that much attention beyond French toast and no fruit and wish I'd noted down how it was described on the menu. But I swear it came with maple syrup and a small dollop of icecream! Now however weird that sounds it actually makes some sense. After all, it's not that much of a stretch from the batter in fried ice-cream to French toast, and maple syrup goes very well with ice cream (the best ice cream I've ever had was maple syrup and walnut). The fact that the maple syrup came served in a little jug meant that you could control the sweetness and the whole thing didn't become a soggy mess.

We also ordered two dishes to share, the housemade crumpets and the banana split. The crumpets were probably the best tasting dish of the day, served with leatherwood honey and a touch of butter. Denser than the store bought variety, it was almost like honey and butter on good quality lightly toasted bread. After quartering the crumpets we all used our bits to soak up the honey which had run onto the plate.

The banana split came with pistachio praline and dulche de leche. Dulche de leche, a type of milk caramel, should be renamed delicious de leche as far as I'm concerned, it's really that good. The praline complemented the not too soft banana to give it a bit of texture, and even though I don't particularly like banana splits I did enjoy this one.

A interesting little café that I'd like to revisit. While service was a little slow a smile and a sense of humour goes a long way, something a lot of places seem to forget. The food was a little variable but managed to provide three interesting dishes with the promise of several more on the menu. It's slightly pricey though given the small size of the servings ... the reason we ordered the banana split to try was we were still a little hungry even after each consuming a main and sharing the crumpets.

Food - 8
Service - 7.5
Ambience - 7
Price - 6.5

238 Gertrude Street
Fitzroy VIC 3065
Tel: (03) 9416 4747

Birdman Eating on Urbanspoon

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