Thursday, February 11, 2016

Las Chicas II

Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on 

February 7, 2016

We decided to broaden out our Cheap Eats 2006 project by heading south of the river for a return breakfast at Las Chicas, a place we'd last visited almost exactly nine years ago. It's managed to maintain a healthy buzz over the decade, meaning we were confronted with a queue for a table at 11:00 on a Sunday. When we were shuffled in after 10 or 15 minutes we were slotted into the back bench of the courtyard, overlooking one of the most picturesque carpark views in town.

The menu is massive and well-stocked with vego items. Vegans have seven dishes to choose from, including coconut sago ($14) and shitake mushrooms with marinated tofu and miso broth ($16). Prices must have gone up since 2007 - our old post has the most expensive vego brekkie at $12, while nowadays you can get a vegetarian big breakfast for $25.

Cindy ordered something similar to the dish I had way back in the day - the pumpkin, polenta and sunflower loaf with avocado, feta, pomegranate, fresh herbs and lemon ($17). The presentation is a bit fancier these days and the dish itself was an improvement on my old baked beans-based version - the loaf was lighter and not as dry, with the feta and avocado serving as delicious condiments. The salad was basically all basil, which was kind of overkill, but that was the only minor complaint that Cindy had.

She paired the meal with a banana and honey smoothie with milk and yoghurt ($8). The two feature flavours were prominent and very sweet.

I opted for one of the vegan meals - Vik's vegan wrap, an overstuffed wrap filled with broccoli, marinated tofu, mushrooms, onion and vegan mayo and drowning in avocado and a tomato salsa ($16).

There's nothing fancy about it, but this is a massive and hearty plate of fresh, tasty food. The vegan mayo was great - not the low-fat Praise option that we usually fall back on - and the mushrooms and tofu provided the rich savoury flavours to balance out the bright freshness of the broccoli and avocado.

We were pretty impressed with our return to Las Chicas - the coffee's good, the staff are friendly and they've really got their systems together. Despite the crowds of people queuing up for tables, service was brisk and the coffee and food turned up speedily. They've stuffed so many tables and chairs in though that it doesn't feel like a very relaxed setting - you can't really avoid the feeling that you're being rushed through so they can clear the decks and cram the next group in. Still, the food is great, and the menu is huge and varied - there are heaps of things I'd love to go back and try. We'll just try to make it at a quieter time of the week.

Read about our first visit to Las Chicas here. Since then it's reputation has remained strong, with positive write-ups on veg blogs Vegan Sparkles and Nouveau Potato plus loads of omni-bloggers: Eat and Be Merry, for Tomorrow We Die(t), Available All Day, Ichigo Shortcake, Fitzroyalty, The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brunch Addict, Travelling in Mary Janes, msz knowitall, The Baroness of Melbourne, Yum Yum, Juganaut's Foodie Thoughts, KittyBaroque, Mr and Mrs Kong, The Melbourne Glutton, ps: I heart you, SouthSideBrunch, Painting Rachel Red, One Fat Cow, Melbourne Places, Tell Her She's Dreaming, Melbourne Din(n)ing Blog, A Food Trail, My Diet Starts Tomorrow and The World Loves Melbourne.

There are just a few people with less than rave reviews - see Howie's Melbourne Food Blog, The Epicurean of Southbank,Yellow Eggs, Juju's Gastronomy and two fat buns.

Las Chicas
203 Carlisle St, Balaclava
9531 3699
breakfast menu, lunch menu, drinks menu, specials

Accessibility: There is a flat entry, but the space is crowded with people and tables. There are a mix of regular tables and higher benches with stools. We ordered at our table and paid at a low counter.

1 comment:

  1. I actually returned to Las Chicas recently after probably a similar gap between visits as yours, and I was happily surprised that it's still chuffing away on all cylinders!