Monday, August 09, 2010

August 7, 2010: What About Food

There's a new cafe just opened on the corner of Elgin and Cardigan Streets, just a block or so from the University of Melbourne.  For a few months we've been observing the shopfront; initially a messy and musty room, then introducing itself with a neatly stencilled sign reading What About Food, now finally revealing a fit-out and menu in the style of the northside's best brunch spots.

The menu is well suited to our tastes - almost entirely vegetarian (though not particularly vegan-friendly).  It starts with a variety of mueslis and porridge, each matched with fruit, moves on to a breakfast fruit crumble with mascarpone before hitting Michael's kind of territory - home made baked beans, poached eggs, chickpea bake and an avocado bruschetta.  For the more lunch-minded there's also a pasta of the day, soup, frittata and pizza.

Michael gave the home made baked beans with feta and poached eggs on sourdough rye ($12.50).  It was a fine plateful and a very decent price.

I chose the goats cheese and caramelised onion tart from the heated display case (~$8).  This storage tactic meant that the tart's texture wasn't at its best - a little crusty and dry on top - but the flavour was spot on, rich with a little sharpness.

Of course all that inspecting of the display case meant I knew what was on offer for dessert, so I followed it up with this brownie (~$4).  As you can see, it was heavy duty stuff; super-dense and not at all cakey.

Service was friendly but was a bit confused - hopefully they'll hit their stride soon.  While the food isn't an instant rival to inner north greats such as Min Lokal, Minor Place and Fandango, the menu shows a lot of promise and the prices are reasonable.  I think What About Food has a fighting chance at attracting a loyal following of locals and uni-goers.  We'll certainly be back for breakfast very soon.

Edit 28/07/11: What About Food has changed hands and is now 330 Briks.

Address: 330 Cardigan St, Carlton
Phone: 9347 5256
Price: veg breakfasts and lunches $4.50-$15


  1. I walked past on Saturday, and was saddened to see how not vegan-friendly the menu appears to be. It is a hard vegan life!

  2. I want that tart! Great to see this place has finally opened.

  3. I've been watching that storefront with interest for the last couple of months too, and it's good to know that I can now at last sample their wares!

  4. Steph...did you bother to walk in and check out the menu on the wall or just glance at the blackboard out the front?

  5. @anonymous - I was in a hurry so only checked out the board. I had planned to check out the inside menu, but in this post Cindy said the inside menu doesn't look very vegan friendly.

  6. Ohh, that first pic makes me miss Melbourne!
    (Perhaps to Michael:) How's the coffee there?

    I've been pleasantly surprised with some really good coffee in Brisbane. The Merlo places particularly seem to make it well, and then when I come home, Melb coffees are cheap but often burnt and not so good. Strange, no?

  7. looks interesting - must keep it in mind if walking that way at lunchtime - the brownie looks intense in the best way possible!

  8. Hi Cindy and Michael. Peter Jaaniste from London here. Have enjoyed the blog over the last few months after your dad told me about the site. We're in the process of moving to Edinburgh to live and run a cafe in Edinburgh city, near the Meadows. Fresh food, light meals, "home made", local food supplies as much as possible and hopefully yummy food. It'll be more like a tea room than a restaurant. We're not vegan or vegetarian, but enjoy foods with a strong vegetable emphasis. keep up with the great pics, the eating place reviews and the menu details.

  9. That brownie looks like it could pass as fudge!
    Oh well, it's always good to give new places a ago. Hopefully they can pick up their stride as you say and make a real name for themselves :)

  10. Definitely should try the meatballs in toasted turkish bread - lots of flavour and yummy sauce to soak it up. Also the breakfast crumble was to die for and the cinnamon porridge with poached fruit was a welcome change from the norm. Not strictly vego however the menu has a healthy mix for all tastes. I'll be back again!

  11. Great to see this place finally opened. Have watched in earnest and called in yesterday for coffee which was fantastic. The barrista there sure knows his stuff. Ah Melbourne coffee, great when they get it right.

  12. Steph & Anon 1 - things like the baked beans, avocado and chickpea bake might be vegan on their own but they're served with eggs and/or cheese as the default. There might be good vegan times to be had if the chef will accept off-menu orders.

    Cathy, Michael enjoyed but didn't rave about the coffee. Sounds like you're doing fine with your Merlo, anyway. :-)

    Peter - nice to hear from you! All the best with your new culinary venture, it sounds great.

    Readers, note that comments from Anon 3 and Anon 4 were made from the same IP address. I'm looking forward to trying some of the sweet breakfast options but we'll skip the meatball sandwich, thanks.