Michael was keen to have Saturday breakfast at a fan's notes on our friend Will's recommendation, but at 9am they still weren't really open yet. Instead we crossed Park St to Carolina. We've visited before for breakfast and for drinks in the evening, so we were confident of a pleasant experience even if we hadn't seen the latest menu.
Vegan and gluten-free items are clearly marked but sparse on said menu, and other dishes look adaptable (e.g. remove feta from white beans, and goats cheese from herb-oiled avo on toast). The vegan and gluten-free Okay, Carolina fritters stand out as the most unusual offering, done okonomiyaki-style with pickled ginger, nori, chilli, Japanese mayo and a side salad with white miso dressing ($15).
Michael was tempted by those fritters, but ultimately went for the Carolina white beans ($13) with poached eggs ($4). They were fragrant with smoked garlic and sage, then topped with feta and fresh green herbs, almost but not quite toppling Michael's devotion to Henry's beans.
I pretended to take interest in a few other items, but couldn't resist the over-the-top lure of their new sweet plate, the campfire doughnut ($16.50). Two thick, cakey pieces of brioche were dusted in cinnamon-sugar then topped with a toasted home-made marshmallow and maraschino cherry. It was sweet, sweet, sweet; not really cut through by the excellent sour cherry jam or the thick dark chocolate sauce offered on the side.
Although Carolina wasn't packed out, it seemed buoyed by a steady stream of locals and regulars. The couple of staff members on hand were warm and capable, letting us feel almost like regulars too.
There are positive reviews of Carolina on TOT: HOT OR NOT, Gagwood Blog, Let's Get Fat Together, the coffee guide..., and Skinny Glutton. little eats liked the food, but had a bad experience with the service.
11 Nicholson St, Brunswick East
0425 731 315
breakfast, lunch & hot drinks, cold & alcoholic drinks