Wednesday, August 23, 2006

August 13, 2006

Our second day of sampling the local menus…

Breakfast at the University Café , 257 Lygon St Carlton

The breakfast menu is the standard array of healthy muesli, porridge and fruit, hearty cooked breakfasts, and a couple of sugary sweet options, with prices hovering around $10. I couldn’t detect the promised cinnamon in my ricotta pancakes, but they were light and cakey with a generous serving of stewed apple and rhubarb. The food appeared quickly and our waiter courteously stopped by twice to check whether we needed anything, even though the café was quite busy. Definitely good value, even though the menu doesn’t offer any surprises.
Lunch at Sweet Source, 288 Rathdowne St Carlton North

Naturally the name was enough to reel me in. Even so, we actually visited for lunch and I restricted myself to something savoury. Sweet Source has a tempting array of foccacias, pies and frittatas in the display case, and soup and grilled sandwiches on the menu, all at about $6-10. We arrived late and consequently they had sold out of a number of dishes. Michael’s vegetarian pie was delicious and completely devoured by the time an ordering mistake was resolved and my beetroot and goats’ cheese pastry arrived. Thankfully it was worth the wait, with the sweet beetroot layer concealing an even sweeter, softer layer of caramelised onion. The salad, including fennel, radish and a light poppy seed dressing, was also a winner. I’ll be back for more weekend lunches but next time I might avoid the smoggy Rathdowne St seating, order take-away and sit in the nearby park.

Afternoon treat at Brunetti, 194—204 Faraday St Carlton

Our friends Krusty and Jason introduced us to Brunetti when we visited last December, and I was itching to return. This is a huge, bustling establishment with more cakes and espresso machines than I have ever seen in one building. I ordered the relatively modest Sacher, a chocolate and hazelnut biscuit. The chocolate cream centre was divine, but overall I thought the biscuit was too sugary. There are likely to be many future posts regarding Brunetti as I attempt to document its size, energy and variety, and steadfastly sample its desserts.

Dinner at Los Amates, 34 Johnston St Fitzroy

This Mexican kitchen prides itself on traditional rather than Tex Mex cuisine, and the menu includes several funny commentaries on the authentic way to enjoy their food and drinks. We tried our Mexican beer with salt on the rim of the glass and the juice of a lime. There was a good range of vegetarian appetisers and entrees, and three mains priced from $14-19. Then we hit an option we couldn’t pass up: the vegetarian platter for two.

(A comfortable and warmly lit restaurant means uncolourful photos, unfortunately.) With two salsas, guacamole, and sour cream we were able to spice up or cool down every morsel to our taste. We enjoyed trying preparations that extended beyond the usual burritos but found that the bean, mushroom and mixed vegetable fillings didn’t have distinctly different flavours. We cleaned the platter easily, but I was sufficiently satisfied that I didn’t order a spiced hot chocolate afterwards.

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