Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ici, Fitzroy by Big Fil

It was a sad news day. With the current downsizing of the Victorian public service, Foghorn Leghorn was leaving Melbourne in just over a week for a three year contract in the warmer climes of Brisbane. It was just long enough to leave the opportunity for a quick brunch catch-up and to finally getting around to checking out ICI, one of the large number of cafes scattered in and around Brunswick Street in Fitzroy.

While hardly unknown, ICI doesn’t really count as one of Melbourne’s Mega-cafes, the ones that punters travel from far and wide to check out. I mean, when I'd walked past it'd always been flowing out onto the footpath tables so it’s obviously very popular, but my guess is that it’s more local hipsters than blow-ins from other parts of Melbourne (like me for instance).

From the outside there’s not much to see, another nice but slightly generic looking inner city Victorian corner building. Inside it's a bit different to most of the other cafes in the area. Whereas modern industrial or minimalist is definitely the fashion de jour in this part of town, ICI is slightly dark, with lots of wooden panelling and has more of an old school feel.

That doesn’t extend to the menu though, which is a good mix of the classic and the new. Given the location the bread is unsurprisingly from Babka – always a good start. With the season just ending I thought I’d head for the autumn eggs, a poached eggs dish slightly different to my usual style. Visually I thought it looked a wonderful golden colour reminiscent of autumn leaves. Unfortunately though taste wise it left a little to be desired. While I neglected to write the details down and after an insanely busy period at work memory is failing me, but the impression I was left with is with nicely cooked eggs overwhelmed by the amount of spice used with the dish (dukkah I think).

Snooze was left a little in two minds over her beans on toast. Served with tomato, mushrooms and capsicum, with rocket and feta cheese, the best features were the touch of salt from the feta making an interesting match with the rocket and the seriously good bread. Unfortunately though she thought the baked beans were lacking in flavour.

Ms A and Mr Leghorn went with the more traditional choices of poached egg with tomato and the three egg omelette. No detailed feedback however both commented that their meals were very good.

So a nice place to eat particularly given we got their early before it got crowded, the prices were reasonable and the food a mixed success. However, why did we all think our visit was a failure? The disorganised and seemingly disinterested service.

First issue, the three-egg omelette is listed as including chorizo, which the waitress had explained they had run out of and were using bacon as a substitute. I mean, it’s not like we were there for the last service of the day. They had just opened for Sunday breakfast service. How hard would it have been to notice they were getting low and supplementing their stocks earlier? Not the biggest deal in terms of bacon not being a good fit for the dish but it seemed careless.

Secondly, the ordered Breakfast Bloody Mary took a looong time to arrive. As was pointed out, if someone orders a Bloody Mary at breakfast they are already probably hung over and cranky, so that waiting around 20 minutes for their drink to arrive in a three quarters empty café isn’t likely to improve their mood.

Thirdly, and most importantly, while there are lots of serving staff and they routinely asked how we were going they did leave the impression of being quite apathetic. This meant that they did more to annoy than assist. It was interesting to find out afterwards that we had all independently noted that there was a definite issue with the service, that none of us were happy with it. Unfortunately it isn’t a common failing around Fitzroy, and it may be because of the number of inexperienced staff but it seems to have some of the most inconsistent service around town.

To top it off, Ms A ordered as was charged for a large coffee, but either received the wrong one or the barista has a very different view on what constitutes a large coffee.

I was looking forward to trying here and first impressions were good so that may have made the let down even steeper. Based on food, style and price ICI isn’t my favourite café in the area but still the sort of place I’d normally be happy to give another go. I hate rejecting a place on just the one visit as anywhere can have things go wrong or just a bad day generally, and its popularity in such a competitive area obviously means it is doing something right. But while I can accept poor service if they are trying it was the seeming disinterested attitude of our serving staff that put me off wanting to return.

Food – 7.5
Ambience – 8
Service – 4.5
Price – 7

359 Napier Street
Fitzroy VIC 3065
Tel: (03) 9417 2274

Ici on Urbanspoon

1 comment:


I love sushi burgers!!!!

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