I had read reviews on Urbanspoon about their excellent service and my experience was no exception. I showed up about 11am on a Monday and asked very awkwardly for a table for one (I never dine alone but it is something I would like to embrace). The waitress enquired if would I like somewhere a little quieter where I could chill out, and took me through to the cute, smaller back room. This was the first big tick for me, the previous house, turned Spanish deli, turned cafe has multiple dining areas which allows you a choice between large public area (and people-watching fodder) or somewhere you can tuck up and read a book, or, let's face it, Instagram your little heart out.
The drinks menu is impressive with coffee by Proud Mary, a range of teas by Storm in a Tea cup and a number of other locally sourced soft drink options with pressed juices to join the fun soon. I went with a chai tea by Calmer Sutra (puntastic!) which was possibly the best cup of tea I have ever had. I am quite picky with tea, usually preferring coffee, but I had had a fairly stressful morning and needed to unwind rather than buzz. Perfectly steeped, deliciously spicy and do I need to mention the presentation?
The food menu reads very much like an art gallery catalogue, naming the components that go into each artwork. I pretty much closed my eyes and pointed; resulting in 62 deg egg, Chives, Shaved Grana, Pickled Truffle, Brioche Soldiers.
As I soaked up my runny eggs with chunks of buttery pillowy brioche and licked up dollops of the earthy, tangy truffle paste, the lunch crowd began to arrive (yes, there was a crowd, on a Monday no less). A nearby table offered some excellent eavesdropping fodder as an elderly gent perused the menu. "What on earth is a 62 degree egg? Water boils at 100 degrees" drifted across the room, followed by "This must be a vegetarian place. Is it vegetarian? Oh, no, they have prawns" "Kaiserflesh? What kind of animal is that? Or is it a vegetable?" He eventually worked out he could have bacon and eggs and was very happy with that.
To extend my experience I enquired about sweets. The waitress replied they had muffins or their signature doughnuts- today's were served with either a syringe of raspberry jell or creme patisserie with pistachio- lock it in Eddy.
As my doughnut made its way to the table there was more head-turning than a peak hour pile-up. I could have used this moment in the spotlight to bask in the radiant glow but I think I actually leaned towards grinning like a sugar-starved child with bug-eyed enthusiasm (there may have been some light drooling), only pausing long enough to take a few requisite snaps.
Now, this may shock you but generally I am not that into doughnuts. Deep fried cake just isn't worth the calories for me, particularly when under or over-cooked as is so often the case. This, my friends, was an exception. After I had recovered from the delight of squeezing my creme patisserie into the doughnut, a prod with my knife revealed a well-sugared super-crunchy crust with a fluffy, moist cakey centre and lashings of oozy silky custard that I had just discharged (that word should never be used in a food blog and I apologise, but I'm going to leave it there anyway). It was completely worth every last calorie as I licked the crusty sugar from my fingers (and the doughnut wasn't too sweet, I'm not sure how they managed that... alchemy?).
I paired it with a perfect iced latte; strong, nutty and with enough bitterness and acidity to balance my indulgence.
This place is exceptional. Get your toosh in there, but be prepared for a wait on weekends, Ascot Vale is about to become fashionable :)