A catch-up meal with the girls means, for us, a different place to try every time. We've done AIX Cafe Creperie Salon in the city, Red Tongue Cafe and Vegie Bar on Brunswick Street; and who could forget Gluttony on Smith Street (we should've starved ourself for a day before our meal).
AH suggested, for this particular meeting, that we try Rathdowne Street Food Store - good things had been heard about the omelette. Having hit nearly every single other cafe on the Carlton North strip, I was eager to try what was supposedly the best one of them all. 8.30am on Sunday morning found four hungry (and cold) girls traipsing into the warmth of the Food Store. Smells of freshly baked bread, cakes and muffins were wafting through the air, and stacked up on plastic trays on a corner of the cafe, having clearly been delivered a few minutes before. The loaves of multi-grain bread, little lemon cakes, gorgeous berry muffins were making us salivate.
The place itself was quite empty save a few lone breakfasters with their papers, as it was too early for the Sunday breakfast crowd. We sat ourselves in a nice little nook that overlooked the front of the store, ordering coffees and teas to warm ourselves up whilst perusing the menu. My peppermint tea was continually being filled with extra hot water, and lasted me till the end of the meal. H had the same pampered tea experience with her English Breakfast, whilst C and AH assured me their respective coffees were excellent.
We had a bit of a hard time deciding on food. AH told us about rave reviews of an omelette with goat's cheese and smoked salmon, topped with hollandaise sauce and "overbaked", which sounded divine. Some previous research I'd done showed that the ricotta hotcakes with poached pears and lavendar icecream was also highly recommended.
AH ended up going with the omelette, which, although delicious, was quite oily from the baked hollandaise sauce. The serving was quite large, coming also with two pieces of "home-made" toast, which was nothing out of the ordinary, given so many other excellent bread choices available these days.
C went with the Food Store Eggs, which (from bad memory) had two beautifully poached eggs topped with spinach and hollandaise. The eggs, C told us, were great, but she could've done with some toast or even an english muffin that might have made the dish a bit more filling. H ordered herself a muesli (no mention on whether it was home-made) with fruit compote and yoghurt. It looked quite good, and after trying the muesli, I agreed that although I couldn't tell whether or not it was home-made, it was still delicious (though still not on par with the stuff I had on Flinders Lane).
I craved something wholesome, and since it was a cold morning, went with a simple porridge with compote, yoghurt and condiments. The porridge itself was quite substantial and portioned perfectly. It came steaming hot and had a hint of vanilla in the smell, though I couldn't actually taste much vanilla and the porridge itself wasn't particularly flavoured either. Stirring in the compote, however, was more than enough to provide me with a sweet fruit hit. It was made up of rhubarb, pear and some form of berry (either strawberry or raspberr), and I particularly enjoyed the large chunks of pear throughout. The condiments came on a wooden tray with little jars of honey and brown sugar. I was perfectly happy with the porridge, compote and yoghurt on its own, but the presentation was gorgeous and the little jars satisfied my love for cute ways of food presentation.
The service was good, and although the waiter took the prerogative of leaving us alone most of the time to catch up, it made it slightly more difficult when we actually needed some service. The place itself is decorated gorgeously, small-town rustic mixed with modernised deco. The place itself wasn't the cheapest we've ever been to, but the quality of food and feel of the cafe was enough to make it worth the price. We left the Food Store warm, full and happy with our brekky and agreed that it was definitely worth a repeat when we run out of new places to try. And I'm definitely going back for one of those little lemon cakes.
Rathdowne Street Food Store
617 Rathdowne Street