Last week I felt rather cutting edge, visiting the Commoner just two days before the Age's Epicure recommended its pan-fried gingerbread in their article on modern Melbourne breakfasts. But I've been rather tardy in writing up my experience and anyway, the Commoner received mid-2007 reviews in the Age, the breakfast blog and Fitzroyalty. I guess I'm about as cutting edge as a boy band reunion.
Maybe I could instead pitch myself as clairvoyant? Because it was indeed the pan-fried gingerbread I chose to order ($14), in spite of stiff competition from the porridge (with rhubarb compote, pistachio nuts, honey and "Our Yoghurt"), the beignets (French doughnuts rolled in orange and cardamom sugar) and the Arabic pancake (with roasted black plums and yoghurt). I knew I'd be into the bananas and less enamoured of the honey, but it was the yoghurt that surprised me with its complementarity. The gingerbread itself was a funny thing, light in texture but with a dense crumb, and not heavily spiced. I wiped the plate clean, but felt it could have been executed a little better.
It's just as well the sweet side of the menu was so appetising, because all savoury options involve eggs. Still, half of those are vegetarian and Michael picked out baked free range eggs with sage, yoghurt and chilli ($16). Like me, Michael enjoyed his breakfast without being entirely wowed. In his opinion, Fitzroy rivals Julio and Min Lokal do baked eggs cheaper and better.
The Commoner has a smart and sophisticated look, but unfortunately group conversation tends to bounce off the bare floor and high ceiling, making it a noisy place even when only two thirds full. On this Sunday morning they seemed to be slightly understaffed, consistently mixing up coffee orders, though they were always friendly and apologetic. And the customers were, uh, very Fitzroy. I foresee a loyal and regular clientele for the Commoner, but you probably won't count me among them.
Address: 122 Johnston St, Fitzroy
Ph: 9415 6876
Price: veg breakfasts $10-16