Ex-stuz mi?

Stuzzi
325 High Street Northcote

(Visited November ’17)

I had been to this Northcote café a few times before, each time there meeting a certain group of chicks for a much-needed catch-up.

It had been years since the last visit. But not much had changed.

It was our annual KK catch-up that had me heading on over after a long day out with Hubbie and baby girl, and the company was the same, my old high school friends.

The original, and the BEST.

It was a hot night, and being free of child for the occasion, I was first to arrive. Sure, things had been revamped and done up a bit. I was seated on a medium-sized table alongside the bar in the middle of the café interior. There weren’t many people about, so I sat and watched waitresses meander around, assisting those who needed food and drink, all the while waiting for the Friday night influx on this November day.

Yep, we were killing the KK catch-up, hitting it up mid-November. The shin-dig thing-a-ma-jig was early, but we had to, you know, find time amidst our very busy lives and all.

It’s a modern café, with a couple of large TVs on either side of the walls for all to watch. Nothing inspiring, but still on trend. I checked out the local news, while I ordered myself a drink during the wait for my gal-pals…

Summer Squeeze – watermelon, orange and pineapple

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This was refreshing, and had me feeling the soon-to-be Summer vibe.

It wasn’t long until I was joined by one friend, and then another, and another, and then another, and then we were right and ready, in amongst chatting and laughing and hilarious youtube videos, to finally order.

We opened our KK pressies and had a grand old time doing so, and then soon after, our meals arrived.

I got the Stuffed Chicken Breast – Whole chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto, bocconcini, sun-dried tomato, served with mashed potato, broccolini, topped with a honey and creamy seeded mustard sauce

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My meal was adequate, perhaps to be expected from a café of that type. Appealing to the masses, huge variety of choice on the menu, but perhaps more a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type café. My chicken was huge, and as one friend observed about the chicken meals on the table “these chickens are on steroids.” Enough said.

I didn’t notice anything other than tomato stuffed in the chicken – the prosciutto was on the top, and the cheese was possibly in there as well. It was sitting atop mounds of mashed potato, and though I love my carbs, the ‘steroid chicken’ comment had me feeling slightly off, plus it tasted a bit tough. I ate a decent amount of it, but just couldn’t eat it all, making sure I had at least eaten the broccolini. Get those greens in. Thank God for them, or else it all would have looked too beige. I would have rather a smaller, succulent chicken, than one taking pills to be on Gladiator. Also, it was swimming in the mustard sauce, and suddenly everything, not just the chicken, felt overdone.

Big meals were all around the table, and they seemed to be okay… but one friend observed a ‘problem’ with the table parmesan, and that’s all I will say for the sake of being respectful… but it was quickly rectified from our smiley and happy waitress.

The company and conversation far outweighed any food or drink we had that night – but still, it wasn’t as cool as what I remembered it, and nothing to make me wanna come back for in a rush either.

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Food: 5/10. Nothing incredible, but it satisfied my dinner craving. The steroid chicken kind of ended it for me. The fresh juice was the best thing I had that night.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: A chilled and relaxed catch-up vibe amongst friends, as we weren’t the only ones on that Friday night catching up in a large group. Casual surrounds on the city outskirts meant it was cruisy, but things were constant, too.

People: Generally a “friends” type crowd… lots of groups, not so much families, and a eating-before-heading-out-later-on-to-party crowd too.

Staff: They were pleasant. Our waitress was the smiliest, others were doing their job. Nothing bad, but nothing overly-friendly either.

Price: Just under $40 for my meal and drink. The price of the meal served the quantity, but sadly not the quality.

Advice: This place will probably do you if you need to catch up in the area with friends, hence our night…

Also, there is parking out the back that leads directly into the rear of the café, so try that first, or else you will need to look for parking along High street at peak hour time – so let’s just say arrive early.

In a nutshell: I think this place didn’t amaze me only because I have had so much better restaurant/café meals since my early visits there so many years ago. It has a vast menu that caters to many, but that is essentially all.

It’s nothing overly bad… but nothing overly inspiring either.

Sorry Stuzzi… nothing ‘appetising’ about coming back here anytime soon.

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

 

Custard at the Corner Store

Red Door Corner Store
70 Mitchell Street Northcote

Our fair yet weather-unpredictable city allowed Autumn to put on its finest show as I ventured along to the tucked away Northcote café, off the busy High street one Saturday in late May.

The weather was mild as it had uncharacteristically been the last few weeks, yet the season was evident, in the picturesque leaves lying scattered around each tree lined up on all sides of the street surrounding the corner café, with hues of green, yellow and orange colouring the ground.

Although not far from the busy High street, there was a strong neighbourhood and tucked-away vibe as I happily discovered parking not too far from the corner store, and realised with even more relief that there were no parking meters. What? I had even bought my stash of loose change just for the occasion. That would go back into my coffee change tin thanks.

The woman passing me with her milk as I set off with baby girl in pram, saying a friendly “hello,” only added to the lovely everybody-knows-your-name feel. And how true it is, don’t you wanna go. Tick and tick.

Arriving as I do everywhere with pram, I was happy to see there was only the slightest step leading into the café where my friend was waiting for me. However backing into the busy and crowded place was another story, and it was only after a polite woman waiting for her coffee held the door open for me that I was able to actually get both me and my girl in.

I’d happily read a review before going there that seating and parking were plentiful. Parking, yes. Seating? Not with pram. Maybe the reviewer meant the amount of seating, rather than the space surrounding the seating. I’d wondered if perhaps, on a lovely Saturday Autumnal morning, we should have phoned ahead. Inside it was tight with my pram, and only after shifting spots after a more abundant amount of space became available, did I become more at ease. There was seating out the front of the cafe, which would have been good, and my friend visited the loo which was out the back, where there was also more seating – apparently that was packed.

Get to the damn food, you say! Well I had the lovely
Brioche French toast, baked quince, rosewater custard, pistachio praline.

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To no fault of their own, I ate my meal lukewarm because I tended to baby girl’s own food of apple and pear puree for a good while, after she stopped with her “mmm!”s. (Means more). Even so, it was slightly warm, the custard rosewater with quince, all melting together in the middle of the brioche. Not too sweet for brekkie, so it didn’t leave me with that sick feeling making me feel like I should have gone the savoury brunch route. It had praline that almost immediately reminded me of the praline atop the never-forget blueberry pancakes I had at Dukes sometime in the year 2012. Yes, I still remember. And the pistachio was sharp and crunchy, sweet, candied even? Yummo indeed.

My cappuccino was ok, it was only warm once I got to it (again, no fault of theirs) and as any Mum would attest to, the experience of drinking a fresh hot coffee while in a busy café entertaining your little one is akin to keeping your brand spankin’ new white heels clean on a rainy day. However my friend did tell me her first coffee before my arrival was cold, so her second was ordered ‘extra hot,’ and was happily, so she reported. I’ll forgive them for the lukewarm coffee, if only for the fact that the beans are Proud Mary’s.

I did love how virtually everything on the menu was using ingredients sourced from around our beautiful state. Massive bonus points in my book. Little pegs held descriptions of sandwiches and tarts in one display case, while another row of cute peg-descriptors (we’ll go with that) were in a cute row in front of the cash register, tempting you to cheekily go “oh, I’ll have one of those too please!” regarding the delicious cupcakes on offer. I resisted, my brekkie was sweet. And they were presented in a lovely looks-like-it-came-from-a-second-hand-shop chic jewellery display case. Kewl.

The only slightly annoying thing was when it came time to pay up front, the guy putting through our order took just a tad long, especially when he went away and came back with a whole bag of cash to put into his till. Fair enough mate, busy Saturday and all. However he took sooo long doing it, almost like there wasn’t a 6 person line behind me (and that took up half the space in the café). Maybe they’re going for the ‘look how busy we are look’ and want a line like that… but it was like that pretty much the whole time we were there.

Food: 8/10

Coffee: 7/10 (Points removed because food/coffee was lukewarm – not their fault I know – but it did remove from the experience, and I can’t give points for what could have been).

Ambience: Noisy, which suited me just fine with my girl doing a few rounds of vocal acrobatics.

Staff: Friendly and accommodating, especially with helping us move seats, answering our ingredient queries politely and offering ‘side’ options (when I wasn’t sure on going the ‘savoury’ route and was considering removing avocado from a meal – I like it, it just doesn’t like me), and of course anyone who comments on how cute my girl is gets extra ticks.

People: Mix of uni students, lovely people who moved out of my way with my pram (it’s all about the pram don’t you know), couples, and quite a few with little-ies, but those that were already walking. There was an older couple there, who fortunately left and gave us the fantastic seating when we moved. Cyclists came in too, and went straight for the paper hanging over the ladder near me. Checking if Autumn will keep up? Who knows.

Price: All up my meal was $19.60. Under 20 and it’s a great feed especially with the quality of the food on offer.

Advice: If going at a busy time of day (or just a busy day, like a weekend) maybe phone ahead. I saw a table with a reserved sign, so fairly sure that means they take bookings. Also, if you have a pram (or a posse, you may be P. Diddy) it’d be good for them to give you a spacious spot. We got lucky. If you’re a coffee snob (and let’s face it all the best people are) order your coffee extra hot. And lastly, ask for them to bring the bill to the table, and then let them pick up your tab so you don’t have to wait in a line up the front – unless you want to be tempted by the cupcakes. You do, don’t you?

In a nutshell, will I go back?: The café has character, sources local ingredients, has great parking close by, and I wouldn’t mind relocating to one of the many beautiful Edwardian houses nearby. Looking forward to going back with Hubbie.

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