126 Union Street Brunswick
This wasn’t the first time my friends and I had ventured down Union Street. No, we had attempted to eat at Miss’ many many months earlier. Then, my friend had been told on the phone that we could come down and just be seated on that Sunday morning mid-Winter – however upon arrival the staff discovered there weren’t only 5 girls in tow, but 3 babies and 3 prams too. We learnt that there was going to be no space for us that day.
They were all very nice about it, and very apologetic. The wires had gotten crossed over the phone, something to do with renovations, and not realising how big of a group it was. We ventured down the street and ordered at a café where you pay at the front and then some greasy eggs get plonked on your plate in front of you while you and your friends scavenge for chairs and make the place your own. We were hungry so we were satisfied, and we were happy, as all friends in good company always are. You don’t need a special venue. You just want the people around you to make you smile.
However it is human nature to always want it ALL.
I’m a bit of an elephant. I don’t forget. I didn’t forget that Miss Marmalade was rated decently on the Urbanspoon brekkie list, I didn’t forget how lovely the staff were in their apologies, and I didn’t forget that they surely would have renovated by now.
8 months later, and the same group of girls were due to catch up again, once again with 3 prams, but this time requiring high chairs, and hopefully some kind of play area to keep these cheeky toddlers busy. I’d read about something for kids at Miss Marmalade’s, and unfinished business had me calling up and booking a table for us on a late Saturday morning in mid-March.
I was very happy to hear they took bookings. 5 girls and 3 prams and 3 kiddies needing 3 highchairs can’t just rock up anywhere. Establishments that take no bookings frustrate me. I realise they may have unreliable clientele, but really, if that is the case…. piss them off, or something. Lucky for me, on the several occasions I called Missy (1st to find ascertain if they did take bookings; 2nd time to actually book; and then 3rd to add high chairs) I had really lovely, welcoming, accommodating people on the other line. It was all too easy. I was secretly apprehensive that somehow, something would fall through and we’d be left stranded again heading for the greasy eggs, but fortunately for us that didn’t happen.
We had a nice venue this time. I don’t know how it looked like before its renovation, but it was cosy inside, a typical upmarket-hipster Brunswick café. We were seated in the back room via the long corridor running alongside the kitchen. There were a few tables in there allowing for more seating away from the front room, with a little play nook in one corner for the kids to (sit and) play. This room was not as done-up as the front room, looking a bit plainer, but it would have to do for us lot.
We had a great big spacious long table which was positioned at one end of the room, which meant we could take up all the corners surrounding us and the back wall with all our prams and bags and accessories and crap. This was good. Every so often a woman would walk by us heading towards a door at the back of this room, and confirm that we were doing well. She was totally loving our kids, and engaging with them and making sure every single one of them was getting her attention. She wasn’t fake either, she was totally into them, and very obviously loves kids, as well as her job. She was really lovely.
The other woman tending to us, our more regular waitress, wasn’t so smiley. She was ok, she just seemed very serious, maybe overwhelmed by us lot? Don’t know. I much preferred happy-baby lady.
To the damn food, you say. From the kid’s menu, with the omission of the bacon, I got egg on toast for baby girl
Two problems with the above. The camera on my phone was playing up and the flash above kept going off so that by the time I got a half decent photo I was in the midst of buttering her bread. Many shit photos of late, I know, I’m sorry. Have an impatient and hungry toddler at your side and see how you go.
Second. First I had asked for the egg to be fried, then I changed my mind and said “give me scrambled.” I got a poached egg. That’s fine, but yeah. Okay. I realise I may have confused the waitress by changing my order and all, and our table and all the commotion may have been freaking her out, but at the end of the day, that’s what I wanted.
I think baby girl’s brekkie was fine, nothing amaze-balls, it was just egg on toast after all. It was a fairly large plate for such a small kids meal, it would have looked so much better on a smaller plate. Just sayin.’ It was my rad camera skills that made the above look so huge.
To my meal! This really was brunch for me, and the thought of doing a sweet dish felt really naughty especially since it was lunchtime, but when I saw the special of
Sweet brioche French toast with vanilla bean, mascarpone, caramelised banana and praline crumbs
I just had to go there.
It looked great. I was pleased that it was sweet, but didn’t leave me with that sickly sweet feeling I get from many sweet brekkie options. And of course, as suspected I did wonder whether I should have just stuck to my regular savoury route and gone the green fritters, but I was still really happy with the meal. I didn’t get any caramelisation from the bananas, but I loved the crunch of the praline crumbs, and the vanilla bean and mascarpone… well, you can imagine. Specials don’t often hang around. I can always go back for the fritters. This dish left me feeling happy.
The cappuccino I’d ordered looked great.
I love coffee art. It’s just rad. I would say that a chocolate-sprinkled image floating on your cup of caffeinated beverage makes the beverage taste better, and this coffee did taste nice and smooth, but I’ve had better. Maybe my expectations of having this much-ado’d-about 5 senses coffee made me expect too much, I don’t know. Much like the whole brunch. I’d been happy with certain aspects, but I left feeling like ‘just another Brunswick café,’ rather than ‘Wow, Miss Marmalade’s was awesome!’
Food: 7.5/10. Presentation of my food was great, baby girl’s not so much. Loved the flavours and contrasting textures in my brioche too.
Coffee: 7.5/10. Smooth, just maybe not my style to taste.
Ambience: Just think Brunswick café. Busy on a Saturday morning.
Staff: Baby waitress was great, the other one a tad serious. I think the majority are really lovely though, as the guy at the register putting through my bill said to me “have a lovely day” with sincerity, and I left thinking ‘that was really nice.’ You can separate the real ones from the fake ones, always.
People: Younger crowd, 20-ish dominated our room, groups of these ones were everywhere. A few older family-oriented groups were in the front room, but all-in-all, there were no people goo-ing at babies here. They kind of just stared and watched, not really knowing how to react. LOL. Baby waitress was the exception.
Price: I paid upwards of mid-$20s for my meal. On par for that side of town.
Advice: Book if you’re going on the weekend, most definitely if you have a bit of a group going with you. It is kid-friendly with the play area in the back room, which I was very happy with as it kept baby girl slightly occupied (note, slightly).
In a nutshell: Despite feeling the very smallest amount of dismay due to over-expectancy, I do want to try this place again to understand what all the fuss is about. Staff were lovely, food presentation was great, and their fancy cupcakes up against the cash register looked appealing. There is no reason why you shouldn’t try this place.