100 Leicester Street Carlton
Oh sweet, sweet Carlton.
Hubbie and I have had a looonnngggg love affair with this inner-city suburb. Back before our married days, when we weren’t at my place, or at his place, we were in Carlton. Lygon street to be exact. The “little Italy” tree-lined street was our constant go to place, when we wanted a bite to eat, a drink to wind down with, or a dessert to indulge in. Though we came to Carlton again and again, we seemed to frequent the same restaurants, until we somehow happened upon another one, usually out of boredom from the old place or sheer accident, so that despite our constant visits we haven’t visited them all (I’d like to meet someone who has) but we have a fairly good feel of what side of the street you need to venture out to if you want a crowd of pre-nightclub owls, the posh family friendly side, or if you have no preferences and don’t mind being haggled into a venue with promise of basic herb bread and the first two drinks free.
Still, I love it.
I didn’t find myself on Lygon street on this such day in July; rather, it was a few streets over near Melbourne Uni, in a kinda industrial looking street with orange uniformed men getting busy on a building worksite nearby, that I made my way to.
I was meeting two work friends at Stovetop, and was pleased once locating them to find there was ample room for the pram in the corridor section of the café. It was a bit drafty with some entrance doors up ahead, and Winter threatening outside, but for room, it would have to do.
From the little time I spent walking by the main café area, it seemed to be decked out nicely, definitely more of an industrial décor thing happening. It was cool. For a Saturday late morning they were busy, but not swept off their feet busy kind of thing. We placed our orders and I asked for my cappuccino to come with my meal – waitress said she would do her best. It came a couple of minutes before the food arrived – so she passed.
The Cinnamon Waffles with pomegranate molasses, vanilla bean custard, agave and house almond dukkah
Upon arrival it seemed rather brown, and whenever I see an all-brown or all-gold plate I can’t help but think ‘fried chicken, hot chips, all bad, bad food.’ Colour is best, and I was starting to wonder if I’d gotten too excited at the thought of custard and whether I should have gone the interesting-Dr-Seuss-sounding green eggs on toast, when I lifted the top of the waffle sandwiched down onto the other, to find:
Colour. Some yummy pieces of orange placed strategically upon the custard. Custard. Custard is so good in the morning.
My meal was great, after all. Very cinnamon-y, very citrus-y. The custard was a great balance, and the dukkah I found very, very subtle, but still a great compliment. It did leave me with a little of that ‘oh I should have gone the savoury route’ over-sweet feeling, but that’s no fault of the waffles, more my preferring-eggs stomach.
My friends were rapt with the appearance of their meals, as the presentation was pretty spesh. And they seemed pretty happy with the taste too.
The cappuccino was good, but nothing overly fantastic that made me go ‘wow’; likewise, it wasn’t bad either, just in the middle. Stovetop’s website does mention its few coffee varieties, so maybe it’s just their standard cup that didn’t tickle my tastebuds. I still drank it, and it helped me dip baby girl upside down and go “weeee!” umpteen times, so it did the trick.
I did have to ask for sugar, so I don’t know whether our little dish just got lost somewhere between set up and brekkie. And being in the corridor, we did get a tad forgotten at the end (though one waitress was all eagle-eye and replenishing us coffee drinkers with water jugs) when I had to go ask for the bill. But friendly nonetheless. I think one waitress caught on to my blogger vibe when she saw me take a photo of my food, appearing extra friendly when delivering the bill. Damn, I must be more discreet.
Food: 7/10. Yum, the custard and orange was a lovely combo.
Ambience: Easy going and chilled, apart from when baby girl started up her rehearsals of vocal acrobatics.
Staff: Friendly, however I think they’ve had to serve a few too many yuppies.
People: Generally a student crowd, though a family were sitting near us at one stage. Think laptops.
Price: Good, my tally was $17 ish all up, which is great for inner city.
Advice: Good place to hide out in from the rain, check your emails, do your assignments, and have room to move around in.
In a nutshell: Because I actually think I was Italian in a past life, I think I’ll keep sticking to ‘my side’ of Carlton, the tree-lined, pizza-themed end. If I’m ever on Leicester street, I wouldn’t mind trying their lunch, and maybe their specialty coffee. Will be a bit nicer when the construction a few doors down stops.