Saturday, April 2, 2011

Our Kitchen Table, Malvern East by Big Fil

For a moment I felt like Bill Murray reliving the same experience over and over again. Another Melbourne weekend, another good inner eastern suburban café straddling the line between cute and kitsch. That's probably a little unfair to Our Kitchen Table which I thought was better than most I've tried near home, but still I wish some would take the chance on a fresh and little bit less safe approach.

Bright, open and well lit, first impressions of Our Kitchen Table are more country café than inner city. Wooden floorboards and tables, fresh loaves of bread near the entrance, a most unusual chandelier, cakes and biscuits on the front counter, it's all very nice.  However I think the rear courtyard was better. Pleasantly sunny with red paving, sturdy tables and lots of greenery, just a really comfortable place to sit, talk and eat. Quite family friendly too, large and well spaced enough to both accommodate prams and to keep away from any poorly behaved kids.

The menu is a fairly typical Melbourne café in style. First choice of the ricotta hotcakes came with lemon curd and strawberries. The hotcakes themselves were good, appropriately balanced between being dense and fluffy, but I did find the strawberry sauce and lemon curd a bit oversweet.

The sweet corn fritters came with bacon, avocado salsa, sweet chilli sauce and crème fraiche. The corn fritters were beautifully moist with a good corn flavour, some of the best I've had, and the bacon was spot on between being crispy and over cooked. However, again I felt that overall the dish was a bit sweet for me and might have been better balanced by sourer style of cream.

This feeling that the dishes were a bit too sweet also ran through the cakes. The lemon cake was dense and moist but sweeter than I wanted it, particularly the icing.

The crumble cake was flavoured with dried fruit, with the use of ginger particularly coming through, but again was sweeter than I expected.

Above average food but probably not quite to my taste, the outstanding feature here was the setup of the café. Style wise it feels familiar but done well, and it does have a couple of novel touches such as the teacup chandelier.

There are a few things about the service I'd change, for example, it's not clear whether you are supposed to collect menus from the front before ordering or whether they're brought to your table, and while attentive service is welcome being asked by different staff members for the third time about whether you wanted a coffee or not got a little annoying. Prices are also a bit higher than other nearby places, even allowing for being in Malvern. However, it does have one big plus in my book that not every café has, a park across the road where after eating you can watch the local dogs play.

Food - 7.5
Ambience - 8
Service - 7
Price - 6

134 Bourke Road
East Malvern VIC 3145
Tel: (03) 9886 0458

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