Sunday, April 21, 2013

Penny Farthing Espresso, Northcote by Big Fil

It’s been more than a decade since I used to live in Northcote. Back then, before Northcote become one of Melbourne’s more desirable locations, it was pretty much a dining free zone, with hardly a decent cafe or restaurant to be found. Now though like the proverbial ugly duckling Northcote and nearby Thornbury have transformed into beautiful swans, offering the local hipsters and families a huge variety of taste sensations from all across the world.

Penny Farthing Espresso is possible the most popular cafe in the area. Word of mouth (and food guide books) have always been very positive, but with so many places to try and just so many calories to be imbibed it'd taken us a while to finally visit. Was it worth the wait? I thought so, but in an unusual turn of events I seemed to have formed a more positive impression than Snooze. Not that one of us hated it and the other loved it, more that Snooze liked it whereas I thought it was one of the better cafes we have been to.

The room we sat in at the back is done up in typical modern Melbourne chic. You know the style, the places that try to show their individuality by adopting the same communal wooden table, retro style lighting, quirky wall decorations, sometimes feeling like they're trying very hard to come across as not trying very hard. When it doesn’t feel put on though I do like it, even if I'ld like more variety in our inner-city cafes. Fortunately I thought it was done well, cosy without being cramped, a comfortable place to sit while we read the paper and ate some pretty good breakfast dishes.

When perusing the menu we thought there were a few interesting options without anything being a must try. After careful consideration Snooze chose the vegetarian version of the baked eggs, with sweet potato, bocconcini, spinach and tarragon crumble. I’d been interested in trying this myself and enjoyed my taste. I love sweet potato and thought it brought enough flavour to what I was concerned could be a slightly bland dish, and the crumble gave the dish texture. In an unusual twist the bread came not fully sliced but more like the end of the loaf and dripping with garlic butter – with every man and his dog doing baked eggs these days it pays to try to do something a little different just to distinguish your version.

I had a hankering for the corn fritters, with capsicum relish, wood smoked bacon, a poached egg, rocket and mayonnaise. I thought these were done a little different to how I normally prefer them, not as ‘corny’, and my bacon preference would have been for something a little crisper. On the other hand, the dish as a whole had a soft mellowness to it that was nice, and it soon disappeared from the plate.

Just one of those places where everything hit the mark without anything that made me go ‘wow’. The food was good and was interestingly presented, I found the staff friendly, liked the whole vibe of the cafe and thought prices were reasonable. Nothing felt revolutionary or I hadn’t seen it before, but the execution was a step above most similar cafes.
Food – 8
Ambience – 8
Service – 8
Price – 7

206 High Street
Northcote VIC 3070
Tel: (03) 9482 2246

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