Café Bugia

Café Trevi
294 Lygon Street Carlton

We were tired and hot after a long day at a birthday up in the North. We were fairly undecided about where to go on that Saturday night in February, but still being summer, warm, and the party season, we decided to give Lygon street another shot despite our last disappointing attempt. I mean, it was our old food-stomping ground. Surely we wouldn’t have another bad experience, would we?

???

We decided very quickly to go to Café Trevi. In fact, Hubbie decided it for all of us with the free pizza being handed out at the front of the establishment, tempting him in. If this were the old Trevi, I wouldn’t have bothered. We have had bad experiences there with food in the past, which is why we hadn’t gone there in years. But I could see that there were new owners, and it was newly renovated, and along with needing to get food into baby girl and myself, I just went along with it.

Free food tempting foodies in? Clever.

Hubbie asked for a table for us all, outside, while I asked the real question: was there a baby change facility in their premises? The girl holding the pan of pizza nodded yes, but I vaguely didn’t trust her, not knowing if she was just nodding above the noise, or just used to saying ‘yes’ all the time. So I turned to the door man, a friendly-looking man with an accent. I asked him pointedly if they had a baby change facility. He answered yes.

Let’s just store that in the memory bank for later.

Content with TWO YES’S, we moved to a table outside.

Hubbie and I got some drinks, a white for me, beer for him

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while we struggled to keep a hungry and under-slept baby girl happy. Fortunately for us, our entrée of arancini and her main of a chicken and chip pizza, arrived very quickly.

Arancini classici – rice ball made with cheese, peas and quality mince served with bologna sauce.

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Chicken and chips pizza – mozzarella, fried chips, chicken

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The arancini starter was not bad, I think it was a tad dry but the sauce on the side saved it. The chicken and chips pizza was moorish, an interesting combination and one that I think was great. We all enjoyed eating that one.

After a while, we received our mains:

Hubbie’s Eye Fillet Steak with potatoes

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And my linguine ai frutti di mare – spaghetti pomodori and fresh seafood, chilli

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My pasta was ok. I was initially worried it may have a strong chilli taste, thinking baby girl might want to taste-test, but I soon found out I had nothing to worry about – no strong discerning chilli taste here. Which actually was a bit disappointing. I wanted some flavour, and this was actually quite plain as far as seafood pastas go. I enjoyed the prawns and the one scallop on my plate, but the mussels were tough.

Hubbie’s experience left little to be desired. Firstly, he had an item off of the specials, so it wasn’t a usual menu item. He didn’t like the smell or taste of it, saying it smelt fishy and just didn’t taste right. It was turning him off, so he spoke to the door man who said he would take it to the kitchen and ask the chef. It was returned to him, with the explanation  “that’s the taste.” He was given the option of having another cooked for him, but hubbie didn’t bother. I mean, if that’s the ‘taste,’ won’t every other one taste and smell the same?

Hubbie butchered the steak, trying to find any reasonable meat to eat, leaving most of it in tatters on his plate. We’ll get back to that story soon.

I wanted to change baby girl, now being at the tail end of our dining experience at Trevi. We weren’t overly rapt, especially Hubbie, but I wanted to end the night on a good note by getting dessert or ice cream somewhere else before we headed home. So of course, I wanted her fresh, and I wanted to change her. I went over with her to the doorman who had been lovely all night, and very friendly with baby girl, and asked him where the change facilities were. He mumbled something about something not being there, but pointed to upstairs. So we walked up the stairs, change bag in one hand, holding baby girl’s hand in the other. I entered another seating area, probably reserved for private parties, that was empty. Here were the toilets: men’s and women’s. I entered the women’s, and did a double take. I went in, and then out. Looked around. Back in. Looked in toilet cubicles. Even sussed out the back of the toilet door entrance. I could see no change table or pull down table anywhere.

I walked out of the women’s toilet with baby girl, and stared at the men’s toilets. Surely they wouldn’t have the only change table in the men’s toilets, would they? I seriously contemplated going in there, but luckily I didn’t as a man came up minutes later to use the loo. I looked around the room racking my brain. It didn’t make sense. I was told at the beginning by two separate people who worked there that they had a baby change facility!
I walked back down with baby girl. Bag in one hand, holding her hand in the other. I saw the door man walk past near the foot of the stairs. “Excuse me,” I asked. “I can’t see a baby change table anywhere.”

He proceeded to tell me, very apologetically, like a dog with his tail between his legs and his head lowered after the owner’s have come home to find their laundry trashed all over the floor, that there was no change table. They didn’t have one.

I sighed, and nodded. I didn’t say a word. In my head I screamed ‘but you told me there was one! Both of you!’ Although he had been lovely to us all night, and to baby girl, he had deliberately lied. I went to the table and told Hubbie we were getting out of there. As Hubbie was paying and I was standing outside the café with baby girl, I saw a zomato sign stuck beside the front entrance. ‘Review us on Zomato,’ it read.

Oh I will, I thought.

Food: 3/10. Points obviously taken away for Hubbie’s steak, my bland pasta, and the uninspired arancini.

Coffee: N/A, and now, never.

Ambience: It was chilled at the beginning, and surprisingly when we were there it wasn’t too busy, but having said that it was 7-8pm on Lygon street on a hot summers night, meaning everywhere it was fairly bustling. We just wished more of the experience had been up to scratch to match that vibe.

Staff: They were friendly, especially the door man. But he, and the girl holding the pan for free tasting of pizzas, LIED.

People: Near us were an older couple at the beginning, then as we were finishing up a larger group sat near us, and a couple about our age, 30s, arrived with their motorcycle helmets. It was a quiet night for them, but it was gearing up a notch as we paid and left.

Price: I think the total was about $120-$130 – that consisted of several alcoholic drinks, an entrée, and three mains. However upon paying, Hubbie’s steak, or a portion of the price, came off the total, so it ended up being more like just over $100. They had seen his butchered steak, what was left of it anyway, and the chef had said to him at the register, “we could have given you another one!” Hubbie responded as he had to me – “but wouldn’t it have tasted the same?”

Advice: My personal advice would be to not go here. I was disappointed that Hubbie’s steak wasn’t to scratch, sure… but the fact that I was lied to about the baby change table? That left me really sour. And I saved him some verbal abuse due to it too. I chose to walk off. We didn’t end up going anywhere for dessert after, because I couldn’t change baby girl. We just went home. His lie had shortened our night out, and we don’t get many of those. Not happy.

In a nutshell: Feeling pretty damn shitty about Lygon street now. Both Hubbie and I were in agreeance over the fact that Lygon street, ain’t what it used to be. I think the good old-fashioned Italian fare and sincere service has gone out the window. Serve as many as you can with the cheapest quality cuts. Just get them in – then get them out. Don’t worry about change tables. Yeah we’ve got them. Oh no, that’s right we don’t. Sorry.

Too late. We won’t be coming back. I don’t take kindly to lying. Copperwood insulted us with ‘we are not a kindergarten.’ Buzz. Wrong answer. Parents read that, they said ‘we are not a kindergarten.’ What century are we in? And now, for Trevi to say they had one, but lie about it just so we could sit down and fork out over $100 for sub-standard food? That money needs to be worked for, it doesn’t fall off our money tree at home!

If we ever get over this slight (and we still haven’t) and we decide to head out Carlton-way again, I think we will definitely be avoiding Lygon street, and opting for the parallel and intersecting side streets instead…

R.I.P. Lygon street. Trevi and many of its neighbours aren’t doing you any favours in upholding the Italian-food tradition in your parts.

 

Update!

Ha, well what do you know. Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies… and this isn’t one, they are Permanently Closed. Or so Google tells me as I try to place my zomato spoonback for this post. So there you go peeps, KARMA.

That tells me to quickly update my blog posts from the start of this year (in case they have closed), but from memory I don’t think we ate anywhere where their noses grow long, so…

But I should update them. Because you know. Posting about last summer, when it’s almost new summer? Uh uh.

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‘Change’ the wood

Copperwood
318 Lygon Street Carlton

We made our way here for dinner on Boxing day, winding down from the massive Christmas that had just passed. It was exciting, because we were returning to our old dinner grounds – sure we had lunched and cafed at Lygon since having baby girl, but this was our first time coming around for dinner with her. That was exciting. She is currently passing Bs in the café culture scene, and is pushing a C+ for her restaurant savvy-ness. She’ll be a coffee and food snob like us in no time.

So it kind of made sense that we would end up at the place that we had visited so often in our pre-baby days, when we talked life, love and our passions, while sipping on a glass of Di Giorgio’s and sculling some beers – Copperwood.

It’s positioning on Lygon street makes it continuously busy, but it can deal with the masses because it’s a long venue, and there is plenty more seating far behind the first seated area you walk into, which they always tightly-pack to make it look more appealing to passers-by.

We’d always had great experiences there. Nothing was particularly mind-blowing, but both food and wine had been thoroughly enjoyed. In my pre-baby era I was in love with the Di Giorgios Cab Sav from Coonawarra, even going so far as to track down the supplier and almost order a box (or 5) to be delivered interstate.

Almost.

This Saturday that we ventured upon Copperwood, we were seated initially not in the first section, but the seating that passed the little Christmas tree they had positioned high up near the bar. The old man, a regular there that we remember well, led us to a small table with regular chairs. I asked if they had a high chair, to which I received “no.” Just plain old no. No, apologies, no ‘let me try to make something else work for you.’ No. I don’t know if common sense prevailed him, or whether he’d been removed from the child-rearing years for so long that he’d actually lost touch, or maybe they were just very busy and he couldn’t think. I went for the latter in my mind, because we were hungry and we had returned to a favourite Lygon haunt. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and turned to the booths against the wall in the first section of the restaurant, and asked “can we sit there?”

So, in effect, I seated MYSELF. In light of a high chair, baby girl and I sat in the booth, while Hubbie sat opposite.

Soon, menus arrived. Our waitress was lovely, and when we told her to bring baby girl’s meal first, it came very quickly with no delay. This was a plus.

But first were our drinks. Of course you can guess what I ordered:

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My old fave, Di Giorgios, while Hubbie got a beer.

Very soon after came our appetiser of Bruschetta, while baby girl got her chips here too.

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The bruschetta actually came with 3 pieces, however we were so keen on getting it in our mouths that I only remembered to take a photo when there was one left. Oh well, you get the picture.

Everything was going well, and we were happy. Baby girl was eating and being relatively good, there was still some festive spirit in the air with a little Christmas tree near the bar, plus a modern take on a decorated leafless tree in the middle of the room. I loved it.

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Soon after, the mains. For me:

The garlic prawns – sautéed prawns with garlic, white wine and cream sauce accompanied with steamed vegetables

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And for Hubbie, the Rib Eye Steak, accompanied with mashed potatoes, gravy and steamed vegetables

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My description had said vegetables, so I had been expecting many different colours on my plate. To see an abundance of broccoli laying on top of my prawns, I found a tad annoying. It’s annoying because they got away with it, because after all the menu just said ‘vegetables,’ not ‘varied vegetables.’ The broccoli atop the prawns gave it an appearance that I didn’t particularly like. But the meal itself was ok. A very mild garlic flavour, plenty of prawns, and moor-ish rice. I wouldn’t say it was the best garlic prawns I’ve had, but it was good.

Hubbie was in love with his meal. “This,” he told me with passion, “is char-grilled.” Oh Lord, thank you. And guess what? It hadn’t even been advertised as char-grilled, so his adoration was even more intense for this hunk of meat on his plate. I did try a bit, and yes it was very flavoursome, so I could understand his excitement. He was understandably (when you understand my Hubbie) happy. He was talking about coming back already, and just couldn’t get over his amazing steak. But like my meal, his vegetables were also just broccoli.

As we were getting through our meals, I realised that I needed to change our baby girl. I told Hubbie to not let the waitress take away any of our meals, since I was still unfinished, and tried to flag down a waitress to enquire where I could find a baby change table. I was soon informed, and shocked to learn that there was NO BABY CHANGE TABLE. Nothing.

Still in a bit of disbelief that a long-standing restaurant such as Copperwood, on Lygon street, in an inner-city suburb like Carlton, that has toilets, and room for a baby change table, (albeit a fold-out one is more than ok – Common Place had exactly the sort in their women’s bathroom when we went there) yet DID NOT have one, was utterly surprising. I knew the only thing left to do was to quickly scoff the rest of my meal down and pay and leave, with baby girl resigned to being changed in the boot of our car. That was our only option.

However as I tried to eat, I got increasingly frustrated thinking of the ludicrousness of the whole situation, and flagged yet another waitress down in the hopes that the first one had been severely misinformed. She had to find out upon my question, but came back apologetic and saying that they most definitely DID NOT have a change table.

“What era are we living in?” I asked Hubbie. “Seriously, little cafes have change tables, and this place doesn’t?”

Baby girl was in need of a change and starting to get really irritable, and was barely letting me finish the rest of my meal, though I managed it down. Hubbie had to go outside with her while I packed up our things and went to the bar area to pay. It was a quick getaway, and a disappointing one too.

As I approached Hubbie outside, he was holding baby girl in his arms and in the midst of a decent disagreement with the floor manager – you know, the person in charge of overseeing and seating the customers. He was an accented man, and they were going back and forth as people around the front started to tune their ears in. Hubbie had been asked by our specific waitress if everything had been alright – Hubbie had said the food was great, but was disappointed there was no change table, and no high chairs.

“We have a high chair.”

“The waiter told us there weren’t any.”

“It must have been in use?”

“You’re telling me you have one high chair for all of these people?” Hubbie motioned behind him to the people inside.

“I’m sorry we are not a kindergarten.”

Oooh. Ouch. Let me be clear. The way the man said it, was not in malice. He was being defensive in Hubbie’s angry onslaught of complaints. But still. Do you know I could have gone to facebook with that comment? If I had gone online with that quote “we are not a kindergarten” unquote remark from the door manager of Copperwood on Lygon Street, in this day and age of instant news, that would have made it on all the morning shows. That was the wrong, wrong, wrong thing to say.

Hubbie continued angrily, saying it was a matter of seating your guests, not about being a kindergarten, and by this stage I was shooing him off and the manager was apologising for us being upset, as we walked away.

Far out.

Food: 7/10. That’s averaged because mine was ok, whereas Hubbie’s was great.

Coffee: N/A previously, N/A now and N/A never ever after….

Ambience: It was busy and bustling, noisy, perfect for having kids in tow as you’re not concerned about any noise your child may contribute to. But remember that’s a contradiction, because they don’t have ample high chairs and a change table, so it’s not perfect for kids after all.

It’s modern and dim interior makes it a lovely place to dine and wine away, if you don’t have small children.

People: A mix, there were all kinds, in particular a large group of men on one table near us (must have been some kind of late Christmas party) and some friends catching up for dinner beside us. All kinds were about on this Boxing Day evening. I didn’t see too many toddlers like baby girl, so maybe other parents of younglings have cottoned on to this child discrimination before we had.

Staff: They were attentive, in particular our waitress was ever too nice and bringing over extra napkins and plates for baby girl, especially after she witnessed me taking photos.

Price: It was $102.50 for an appetiser, a side, two mains and two alcoholic drinks. It was on the mark for the amount we paid. However as we walked away that money missing in my wallet stung as I recalled the ‘kindergarten’ remark.

Advice: I don’t think you have to book, unless you want seating in a particular location in the restaurant – there seems to always be seats if you’re not fussy. If you have toddlers and babies that require changing as children often do (newsflash!) and high chairs so that they don’t fall off adults chairs, maybe it’s best you don’t come. You can wing it by hoping your child won’t poop her nappy while you’re there, and just sit her beside you in the booth… but that’s a fun risk to take, parent.

In a nutshell: In a LONG nutshell – the food was great, the ambience was great, the waitresses were good, and yet the deliberate exclusion to children there, was absolutely unacceptable, wiping out any plusses we may have experienced that night.

We used to like it back in the day… and I’m sad to say those days are over. Just like the wine that I used to favour so much, honestly, even before the change table incident, it didn’t taste as good as it used to. As time goes on, tastes change. And unfortunately for Copperwood, a restaurant that should be growing with the times, one that is continuously busy and can afford a couple more high chairs as well as a change table to cater for ALL its customers, has clearly made their minds up over who is important to them.

If you don’t have children, never have and never will, well you’ll love this place. So did we once upon a time.

If you have small children, had them, or are planning on having them in the future, please, I ask you to boycott this restaurant UNTIL THEY GROW SENSE ON THEIR TREES (and not just the lamps and Christmas baubles) and get a bloody cheap arse change table and some more high chairs. Then, and only then, should anyone with an inkling for liking little ones even consider going there to eat.

I don’t know if that day will ever come for us. Because really, in a NUTSHELL –

They don’t care for our kids; therefore, we don’t care for them.

Sit on that wood.

Copperwood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

(Just for fairytale ending’s sake, the night did end nicely with superb coffee and cake at Brunettis, where our darling girl received some surprise, special treatment to make up for the other.)

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The sweets aren’t too Fara-way on Lygon

Brunetti
380 Lygon Street Carlton

It’s an institution. Even in its pre-renovated days back in Faraday Street, despite the assumption of space it was always cramped. Brunetti has now moved to its new home within Lygon Court but still, despite the high ceilings and long passageway it now inhabits, with separate dining areas and eating experiences, the place is packed.

It will always be packed, Brunettis. That’s the other thing; to those who really know it, it’s Brunettis – as any self-respecting Aussie knows, an establishment only becomes truly endearing after you change it to its plural. Thus, Brunettis is the place that many, many people have been going to for years now, and it’s much adored by all. Venue change and all, I think it’s only gotten better.

It was packed when we went for Tuesday lunch during the school holiday period in October. Though it started off with ample space, by the time we’d finished our mains and had moved onto cake and coffee, the place was, as Hubbie would say “jamming.”

We’ve been to Brunettis heaps of times before, as it coincidentally and fortunately was off our favourite restaurant strip of this great city. We’d go out to eat, and finish by stopping by to salivate at the cakes and take some home for later. It would be a Saturday night, there’d be a line of people outside just waiting for a free table to open up, with the mass crowd inside the restaurant waiting to be served coffee and cake reminiscent of something you’d see in a mosh pit. I think even back then there was a section devoted to savouries, well within the venue away from the sugar-seeking crowds, but having never gone to Brunettis for something salty I couldn’t say for sure. It’s definitely there now.

I must admit, although the idea of so many petite and beautiful looking sculptures of pastry and sugar was always so appealing, it was never a really truly ‘wow’ experience for me. Sure I still wanted to come back and experience more of the cakes in the display, and to this day I still want to buy one of those $40 cakes to take home and eat over a week, but there were never any heavenly explosions in my mouth. I was really keen to give it a good go and be proven that these mouth-watering delights do exist. We hadn’t been to Brunettis in ages, and hadn’t experienced it in its new home, so when the opportunity arose Hubbie
and I went with baby girl and MIL into town, to check out the new digs.

They’ve really gone all fancy-schmancy. I loved it. We were having our mains right near a black and white photo of what looked like Sophia Loren standing over a multi-tiered wedding cake. If anyone can confirm this is Sophia, please let me know (I can’t find the image anywhere on google). The theme in the new venue is that of modern Italian opulence, with some great old reminders of yester-year like those awesome B&Ws. They have their cake display up one end of the shop, followed by the coffee-making team in a hub, much like it was before, followed by another sweet pastry section, then the savouries, with all the dining areas opposite, including a sectioned-off private dining area for the posher crowd in the far corner of the restaurant.

For lunch we shared the following:

Sopressa Roll, Ragu Arancini and Porcini Pizza

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I’m not a huge salami fan, but this roll was really yummy and fresh, so good. There was salami, peppers, artichokes, and it really felt like an antipasto party in my mouth. The Arancini was cheesy and saucy, and the Porcini Pizza was interesting with its choice of mushrooms, but still great. We easily cleaned it up between the three of us.

Because we were sitting under Sophia near the savoury section, we then decided to move closer to the sweet stuff and change locations, and fortunately Hubbie found a great table right between the coffees and cakes on the other side of the room.

What I also like about the place is that it’s brimming with waiters, but they’re not so focused on their task of clearing tables/delivering food that they won’t stop and NOT look annoyed when you ask them a question. For example I stopped one waiter to ask him if I could get some extra share plates, and despite the fact he was about to pick up and balance several precarious looking dishes, he warmly told me I was more than welcome to take more. Another waitress happily located a high chair for us, and another waiter who looked like his name would be Giovanni, young boy recently come to Australia from Italy to make a better life for himself, having gotten a job at Brunettis due to ‘family connections’ (I’ve got the plot all lined up), who was walking by clearing tables, very nicely said in his fine Italian accent that he would find us a high chair (we’d since moved tables) and came back after his search to happily provide us with one. Despite the busy-ness, another waitress played “hi” with baby girl (she is waving at everyone at the moment – baby girl not the waitress), and it just made me, us, feel good. I could tell all the wait staff are very on the ball when it comes to clearing things away – get people out, so more people can come in. Despite that, they’re not pushy, or trying to get rid of you, they’re just being efficient and making sure tables are cleared so new customers can sit down without rubbish at their tables. And in between I’m happy to report, they’re absolutely lovely.

After much internal debate and soul-searching, we all decided on three desserts with our coffee. I had the White and Dark Chocolate Mousse (pictured here with my cappuccino)

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Hubbie had the French Custard Tart

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and MIL had a chocolate mousse type cake, but we have no idea what it is, so we’ll just refer to it as the dark brownie-looking one in the photo with a cream bomb on top

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All the desserts were great. I think it was a tie between MILs and mine, as I tasted Hubbie’s and though I love custard, it was good, but that was it. Mine was velvety goodness, and I was so glad I went down the mousse path. I felt the prices were really decent for the inspirational creations on offer, but again I think they can definitely afford the prices when they’re producing all those cakes and savouries in such high volume.

That was the fear I had with Brunettis; because they do so much of a variety of food, both sweet and savoury, I wonder whether they are doing too much, but not doing anything well. That’s my thought whenever I come across an establishment that has too much to offer, but falls short of excellence with any of its products. Hubbie and I were talking about this just the other day, and referring to a local hangout which I won’t divulge the name of, other to say that they offer pizza, pasta, steaks, other mains, a wide variety of breakfast, dessert, and drinks, and each time I’ve been there in the past I have not been wowed, in any, ANY measure, being sorely disappointed on many an occasion. We refuse to go there now, and that’s where my thoughts went when I was observing Brunettis. However, that is NOT, definitely not the case there. The savoury was so delicious, and our cakes so scrumptious, that even though the mousse I had wasn’t that 100% piece of heaven I was searching for, it came close, and I have no doubt with more cake-testing journeys there, I will find it 😉

Food: 8/10. Really fresh, and some of those cakes… OMG. Just look at the case. Go on, look. I dare you not to buy anything, or at least salivate, just a little.

Coffee: 7/10. The coffee was strong, to Hubbie’s liking, and I found it not too bad, though I think I prefer my caps smooth. Still good though.

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Ambience: Cosy yet bustling, modern yet European vibe. It’s a really nice blend of cultures, and how could it not be on Lygon street?

Staff: Warm and friendly, though we had a bit of a ‘what the?’ moment when Hubbie asked the coffee staff for a jug of boiling water for baby girl’s food. We had to leave our food in the jug at their bench, rather than bring the water to our table, I assume for ‘safety’ reasons. That’s all well and good, just inconvenient, and terribly annoying. When I got up to get her food, another waitress said to me “do you want to take the whole thing to the table?” (as in, the boiling water we weren’t initially allowed to take to our table). Otherwise, they were great.

People: A lot of families because of the school holidays, older couples, and friends meeting for coffee/lunch. I’d say on the weekend it would draw a much younger crowd, if my memory of old Saturday night’s does not evade me. 

Price: The savouries were expense. $30 for the three dishes we had, and the pasta menu I perused the $$ were about the same and that was for singular dishes; unless you’re a high-flying businessman, I don’t know if you’d be paying that much on your lunch break, but still, I wanna go back and have it another day, only because our dishes were so fresh, I can’t imagine how beautiful their pasta would taste.
The desserts were more acceptable. Considering the visually stunning creations, quite appropriately priced. Our three desserts and coffees came to about $20, and then I just had to take a few more home in their very nice Brunetti box:

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And five of those beauties came to just under $17. Let’s just say I’m happy that I don’t work near Lygon street, because I’d be spending all my money there and expanding my waistline.

Advice: Go when you think it won’t be busy, and the crowd will be just manageable. During high-peak times, on weekends you’ll have to wait for a table, or stalk someone like you would in a shopping centre car park and wait ‘til they knock the last bit of their coffee back before lunging on their table. There are plenty of seats, however there will never be enough at Brunettis.

In a nutshell: It’s a Lygon Street right-of-passage, and until you’ve gone, you’ll never know how good it is to look at so many cakes and want to try them all at once, shovelled into your mouth. But that would be a culinary injustice to this place, so you’ll just have to do what I’m going to do, and go back, bit by bit, and try EVERY SINGLE CAKE they have there, ONE AT A TIME.

Brunetti on Urbanspoon

Orange a ‘Top

Stovetop
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.

I ordered:

The Cinnamon Waffles with pomegranate molasses, vanilla bean custard, agave and house almond dukkah

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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:

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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.

Coffee: 6/10.

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.

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