Since getting back from holidays we’ve been revisiting some of our favourite breakfast places to remind ourselves how great Melbourne’s veg eating really is. After East Elevation and Smith & Daughters, it was time to make a return visit to the fantastic Mankoushe Cafe. There were a terrifying couple of months where the windows were papered over, but the cafe has reopened with a renovated back room and an open fire. Things are otherwise basically unchanged – the staff are still amazingly friendly, the food incredibly tempting and the whole experience just wonderful.
The breakfast menu isn’t very large, with just five dishes to choose from (and nothing vegan). You can also sample from the bakery menu, so you can always fall back on a spinach, feta and ricotta pie ($5.5) or a zaatar bread with fresh tomato, onion, green olives and mint ($7). We stuck with the brekkie menu, with Cindy ordering the zucchini and fennel fritters, with grilled capsicum and a parsley tahini dressing on toast ($15).
It all looked a little dry when it came out, but the thick smears of tahini dressing hiding under the fritters kept things tender. The fritters themselves were simple but effective and the tower of greens and capsicum added colour and freshness.
I weighed up the tomato and ginger puree baked with two free range eggs and eggplant spread ($16), but in the end couldn’t resist the siren song of breakfast potato. The spiced Dutch cream potatoes baked with two eggs and topped with minted yoghurt ($14) was the perfect winter brekkie. Hearty and warm, with more carbs than a human should probably ingest first thing in the morning. I was impressed.
We’d both focussed on savoury breakfast options to ensure we had some enthusiasm for post-breakfast treats, ordering an apple and custard pastry triangle and a pot of cardamom and cinnamon tea ($9) to finish up. Alongside Smith & Daughters, Mankoushe is one of the few places in town where we’ve made enough repeat visits to be treated as regulars, and we were rewarded with a bonus bikkie that was crumbly on the outside and stuffed with sweet ground nuts. The sweets are reliably excellent at Mankoushe, and these were no exception. I will definitely be re-ordering the apple custard pastry in the not-too-distant future.
Mankoushe Cafe is such a standout Brunswick breakfast option – consistently brilliant food, a menu that changes regularly and surely the friendliest staff in town. It’s a bit baffling to see empty tables here on a Sunday morning when there are queues out the door at other places along Lygon Street. Word will surely get around, so grab a quiet, relaxing breakfast while you still can.
Read about our previous visits to the cafe here and here and to the bakery here, here and here. Since our last visit, I Spy Clad and Christina MacLean have enjoyed the Mankoushe experience.
323 Lygon St, Brunswick East
Accessibility: There's a small step up through a narrow-ish entry but everything's more generously spaced once you're in. We ordered at the table and paid at a low-ish counter. We didn't visit the toilets.