We've noticed that the inner north's cafes are less busy on Golden Plains weekend, and we try to take advantage of it. This year we ventured out to Fitzroy's New School Canteen, which Steph & Hayley had been urging us to visit. They were impressed by the array of vegan and eggy breakfasts, respectively, and knew I'd be all over the 'dessert breakfast' section of the menu.
Sadly, by the time we gave New School Canteen a shot the menu had changed and 'dessert breakfasts' were no longer a feature. For us sweet lovers, the solitary option was a chia pudding - no thanks! Rather, there's an abundance of rich savoury eggs, breakfast burgers and toasties (including vegan cheese!) with a superfood-styled rice bowl and grain salad as exceptions.
Michael was, of course, spoiled for choice. He was impressed by the panko-crumbed poached eggs ($17.50) served with green papaya slaw, chilli jam, and tofu so deeply braised that it was nearly black. He missed his toast, though, just a little.
I sipped on an orange, mango and passionfruit juice ($5.50) and sought out something that wouldn't be too greasy, settling on the vegan smashed avo & feta ($8.50). Welp, I was served this. Can you spot the avocado? Nope, that green there is herbs.... and those other dabs are vegan feta. The avocado turned up as just a few smooth green splodges in amongst layers of fresh tomato slices and a big scoop of fresh tomato-based salsa - it didn't have much flavour and no texture, and if it hadn't been marked vegan, I'd've wondered if it was that commercial dip that's padded out with cream cheese.
The almond-based feta was beautiful (possibly the Vegan Dairy one?) and the price was very reasonable, but this was not as advertised.
So I'm not so keen to return to New School Canteen for breakfast, although over our meal I told Michael I'd be curious to come back in the evening for one of the 5 vege burgers. Having looked at their facebook page, I'm less sure - they seem to be revelling in the over-the-top double-dripping-cheese triple-patty trend that repels me.
The venue is spacious, lets in lots of natural light and they're training some plants across frames. Yet it still comes across a little sterile, and the acoustics are terrible - on a quarter-full morning, it took a single well-behaved table of six nearby to render a one-on-one conversation between Michael and I difficult.
New School Canteen's attention to veg options is commendable, but for me they're falling short on too many other criteria right now. I'll read others' ongoing accounts with interest while keeping to Fitzroy's countless other more winning eateries.
New School Canteen has received positive accounts on Tess Presso, Ferris Wheel Flights, Barley Restaurant Reviews and Gourmet Chick; the diners on Whatever Floats Your Bloat had a more mixed experience.
New School Canteen
379-381 George St, Fitzroy
Accessibility: Entry is flat and tables are reasonably spaced. We found the acoustics to be quite echo-y even when quarter-full. We ordered at our table and paid at a low counter. From memory, male and female ambulant and unisex fully accessible cubicle toilets were available.