Sunday, March 04, 2007

March 4, 2007: Ray

On Sunday morning, Michael and I headed to Bruswick for breakfast and a few errands. Between reading the new Cheap Eats guide and the breakfast blog, Michael had developed a short-list of untried but promising sources for our first feed of the day. We checked out Ray, a small cafe with a sizable reputation, and managed to find a couple of vacant stools at the bar. There was no chance of a table for two at 9:30am!

Ray has a pleasant but hipster-ish atmosphere. Its designer-shabby decor and young trendy staff offer no hint that the menu will be inspired by Middle Eastern flavours. Yet the menu is truly inspired: beyond the now-common toasted pide, the egg-based breakfasts also include ingredients such as pesto, dukkah, labna, feta and lamb kofta. A good proportion of them are vegetarian, and Michael chose the poached eggs (free range, natch) with capsicum pesto, spinach and feta ($10). While dukkah was also listed as an ingredient, they were all out - thankfully the waitress warned Michael of that as he ordered so his expectations were reigned in appropriately.

For the sweeth tooth, Ray has French toast with sweet labna and "Arabian style Bircher muesli with cream, pistachios, poached fruit and honey" ($7). I ordered a chilled serving of the latter. Though muesli is often the choice of the calorie-conscious eater, this version is the domain of the dessert lover! This is clear from the first spoonful - a hit of cream and intensely flavoured plum and apricot, the expected yoghurt tang and chewy cereal are completely absent. As I worked my way down the glass the oat quotient increased, and I couldn't manage the last spoonful of too-dry carbs. I suppose this imbalance could be avoided with the use of a more conventional cereal receptacle but it's my only small quibble against a thoroughly satisfying dish.

Michael was likewise happy with his savoury choice and enjoyed their coffee so much he ordered a second one, despite the long wait we'd witnessed for caffeine fixes. Even with his two cups, our bill came to only $23! This is probably the best-value breakfast we've encountered thus far for food vibrant in colour and taste.

Address: 332 Victoria St, Brunswick
Ph: 9380 8593
Price: vegetarian breakfasts $4.50 - $10


  1. That's a favourite. You'll find me in the booth at the back, beside the kitchen. Perfect for two adults and two babies. In winter we sit outside in the sun that slants in against the little tables.

    Ray might be hip but it's old-fashioned friendly and warm. I've noticed this trend over the past year or so; back to really friendly local places that treat you well and serve nice coffee and good food.

  2. You're right - there's little elitism in Ray's trendy vibe. If this becomes the frequent haunt that I intend it to be, I'll take a peek around the corner at "your" booth. :-)

  3. Sorry for the whinge, but being a Brunswick gal all my life (remember when it used to be a laundry!) I was a bit miffed a while back when I was rebuffed by the folks at Ray. It's hard to take rejection and even harder when your tummy is grumbling!

    Also a tad disappointed, because when it first opened Ray had these really great granita's rosewater and pistachio, pomegranate and lychee to name a few) but they're long gone.

  4. The granitas sound fantastic - I wish I'd been around to see (and taste) them!

    Rejections and delays leave me pretty miffed too. I am at my least patient in my hungry-for-breakfast state.

  5. I've been trying to find the address for Rays on google - so happy to find it on your site, should have checked there first. A Sydney friend has recommended them to me for their home-made baked beans - so have added that to my list of things to do for my Melbourne trip!

  6. Kathryn, I hope you enjoy Ray as much as we do. If you have the time, take a stroll along Sydney Rd while you're in the area. :-)

  7. Ray does have good food and coffee, but twice in a few months my order has just been forgotten. It's sort of cute for the wait-staff not to write things down, but just not good enough. With so many good options floating around, Ray has to get a bit less "whatever" to fulfil its promise. Meanwhile I'll be elsewhere.

  8. Yeah, we also had a bad experience with the service at Ray on a subsequent visit. We've been spending more of our breakfast time at the northern end of Lygon St since then, but I won't strike Ray from my list just yet.