I was fighting off jetlag, so Cindy kept me occupied with a quiet workday breakfast. We decided to make a return visit to Small Victories, recently named Melbourne's best breakfast spot by The Age. Our first visit had been pretty successful, and I was keen to sample a few more of their well-cooked side dishes.
Firstly: I'd been missing Melbourne coffees on my travels, so I dived straight into a couple of excellent flat-whites. Small Victories use the Wide Open Road blend and they do an excellent job with it. I had poached eggs ($10) again this visit, but swapped my sides around going for the baked beans ($5) and leek and cheddar croquettes ($5)
The eggs were excellent, the beans plentiful and the croquettes crispy and delicious. The staff at Small Victories clearly know there way around the kitchen - they take standard breakfast sides like beans and add just enough of a twist to make them interesting. I'm still not sure that I should be paying $20 for breakfast (and I wish they wouldn't stack the two slices of toast on top of each other), but at least you're getting something well prepared and original for your money.
Cindy headed for the sweet end of the menu, somehow passing up the buttermilk waffle ($15) in favour of the poached pears with rhubarb, elderflower yoghurt, puffed grains, sesame crisp and rhubarb glass ($13).
That's a pretty damn impressive dish for a local cafe breakfast, I mean rhubarb glass!? Above and beyond. There are lots of varied flavours and textures here: smooth and crunchy, sweet and tangy, some vanishing from the tongue in a moment, and others inviting more meditated chewing. It might leave you looking for a mid-morning snack, but it makes up in taste what it's lacking in bulk.
Small Victories is a pretty slick outfit - the staff are friendly and professional, the food consistently excellent and the fit-out stylish but low key. It's not a cheap experience, but you get what you pay for I guess.
Since our first visit, The City Lane, bonjourchickie, grazing panda, Temasek (for one of their no longer offered dinners) and MEL: HOT OR NOT have all had positive experiences.
617 Rathdowne St, Carlton North
veg breakfasts $7-20+
Accessibility: Small Victories has seats on the footpath, a step up into the cafe and a couple steps more up to extra seating. Tables have average-to-crowded spacing. We ordered at our table and paid at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets but expect that they'd require at least a couple, if not a full flight, of steps to access.