And the winner is….bircher muesli in Adelaide

On the hunt.

In the good old days, Jones the Grocer existed on King William Road – a site that’s been empty for a long time now. There, amongst much lovely food, they offered bircher done as you pleased. That is to say, you chose fresh fruit or stewed and, having narrowed it down to the latter, as I always did, you had then to decide which stewed fruit to take this time. The meal you ended up with was large, but in balance!

Chianti Classico Hutt St Adelaide
with quince & rhubarb, coconut yoghurt, orange syrup, toasted pistachios. 16.90
One does not necessarily need choice in bircher, but balance is not optional. Chianti has done various takes on this dish over the years and its new version is the best, an observation that other long standing customers there have also made. The serving size is right; consistency is lovely – not to heavy, not too runny; it is not too sweet; it has a nice proportion of additions to the oats component and it looks exquisite.

Sublime Cafe East Ave Clarence Park
blueberry compote, toasted coconut, chia & honey 14.9
Extremely thick and ultra sweet. Too much like dessert, not enough like breakfast. Not enough like bircher. My dining companion couldn’t finish it but took it home for her kids to eat after dinner.

Trouble and Strife Goodwood Road
Coconut Bircher, apricot, yogurt, nuts + blood orange syrup 14
Sorely lacked balance. A vast plate of oats with a very small pile of apricots to go with it. If it had half the oats, even if they hadn’t decreased the price, I’d be more likely to order it again.

Bricks and Stones Unley Road
Bircher Museli, natural yogurt, coconut, seasonal fruit & nuts 16
Much better balance than Trouble and Strife’s. When you eat bircher, it should be possible to eat fruit as well as oats in every mouthful. It isn’t as elegant as Chianti’s. If it were my local, I’d eat it regularly. But I’d always have Chianti’s at the back of my mind.

Rise and Grind (Adelaide) vs Bishopgate Kitchen (London)

On the weekend we went to breakfast at Bishopgate Kitchen (Spitalfields).  It’s part of a posh chain and I hope that we saw the worst of it. Mine was probably worst. I ordered poached eggs with smashed avocado, side serves of salmon and bacon and loose-leaf tea.

I got a plate so challenged to fit what was on it that the bacon was chucked on top of the salmon. The avocado wasn’t smashed, it was pureed with a large quantity of vinegar, such as you would put on avocado to stop it discolouring if you made it about once a week. It was inedible. The bacon had been cooked much earlier than it was served and was only lukewarm as were the overcooked poached eggs. The ‘loose leaf tea’ was a teabag. When I asked the staff about that I was cheerfully told that yes, they should change that. Apparently they changed hands several months ago. Well, that would explain why they haven’t yet updated their description of the tea. Rome wasn’t built in three months. As it happened, later on in the day I had a cup of tea at the Maritime Museum’s cafe, also described as ‘loose leafed’ and also a teabag. Maybe real loose leaf tea doesn’t exist in London anymore. Maybe they don’t even know what it is. The ‘fresh’ orange juice was not made on the premises, upon further interrogation, which in my opinion means it isn’t fresh. I know Londoners beg to disagree on this.

Neither of my companions had better food, but they are born and bred in the UK, so they are used to being dished up stuff that wouldn’t let a cafe last a week in Australia. So they ate all theirs, blissfully indifferent to what they’d shovelled down.

Today we went to Rise and Grind, our closest cafe in Clarence Park (Adelaide). It was Carnavale on our last visit and the change is definitely for the better. The menu is a small but interesting selection, healthy options that sound enticing. We started out simple. I had poached eggs with a side serve of spinach, presented on turkish bread, toasted. Manny went for the smashed avo (with feta etc) and poached eggs on dark rye (maybe, I’ve guessed the bread). The avo was everything that the London version wasn’t. Vinegar? If it was an ingredient, we didn’t notice. It was excellent.

Coffee was high standard, tea was good – thought I balk at $6 for a pot, it seems a lot for a cafe. I took a mug for $3.70.

First impressions is that it is a cut above the standard of its predecessor and we are thrilled to have it at close quarters.

My only complaint is that Rise and Grind need better signage. It is mainly an ad for FACEBOOK, as it was for the predecessor too. Weird.






Adelaide: food out


Chianti Classico  is still my favourite breakfast place in Adelaide. Sophisticated menu, impeccable service. However, there are many great sounding places that we didn’t get to this time. Unlike other trips we stayed in our own place and sitting in one’s backyard eating breakfast under the shade of a vine has its attractions.

Ichitaro is is a world-class Japanese restaurant on King William St Hyde Park. Its lunch menu on Fridays and Saturdays is plain unbelievable value and its evening offerings are masterly in taste and presentation, whilst remaining excellent value too. Whereas we will be able to go to London for good breakfasts when we are back in Geneva, nothing will replace Ichitaro.

Mrs Q Gouger St. Good Asian fusion, nice surrounds, overly attentive waiters ( large place, we were early), generous serves, will be back.

Vietnamese Laundry We dropped in for a quick lunch the other day, tried the salads, a really nice heat to them, excellent value at $12 or so per serve.

Lucky Lupitas  We almost didn’t get here, it’s up towards the North end of O’Connell’s St and we had to walk past the enticing smells from a Greek restaurant to get there. We managed, but only just. Just a quick meal, but it was darn good – Manny said it would hold its own in California which prides itself on its Mexican. I can only compare it with the dire Mexican interpretation that New Mexico inflicts upon unsuspecting tourists. No wonder the Mexicans want to build a wall.

Katsumoto is a simple cafe in Gays Arcade, it does cheap unpretentious lunches. We can’t go past the eel and the eggplant to date.

Larry and Ladd There will be a moment in your life when you need a toasted cheese sandwich that very moment and I can only wish, even upon my enemies, that they find Larry and Ladd close to hand. Their plain toasted sandwich is practically life-saving.

Naturally we tried out some of the places close to us. In no particular order:

Sublime East Ave. Everybody should live on a short street with a cafe at the end of it!

Carnevale East Ave. Even closer than Sublime. You can get freshly ground coffee/beans to take home, as well as all the usual things onsite.

The Middle Store Winston Ave. Sort of Lebanesey, nice!

Dear Daisy  Leah Street. Cute, and like the others named above, all nice places to hang out.

Bar Fifty 8 Brand new, a couple of us grabbed coffee there on our way back from lunch at the Rice Bar and it was declared excellent. It has a good look about it and we look forward to lunch there some time.

Pickle in the Middle I just love this breakfast dish and haven’t yet managed to get past it: Breakfast greens 16 Poached egg, shredded kale, Asian greens, snow peas, whole oat kernels and lentil sprouts, toasted seeds, watermelon radish, orange. If you ask me it sounds weird at best, but honestly? It’s fantastic!!

By Blackbird Still haven’t been here – it has a dark look from the street which somehow puts me off – but a friend brought their cakes around recently and they are stunning. In the posh cake French style Manny thought they were at least as good as anything he’s had in Geneva. We are going to have to bite the bullet and go there one day.

A small intro to the next two. One of the things that makes Adelaide special is non-licensed cafes that open at night, generally specialising in dessert. The atmosphere is totally different from places that serve grog. Long may they thrive!

Eggless Cafe Famous doesn’t begin to describe this place. We had to go three times before we joined a queue small enough that we could actually get in when it opened! The first time I swear it was about minus 2 degrees, strong wind, rain, we got there a few minutes after opening time and yet the best we could do is put our name on the waiting list and try coming back in 45 minutes. Which we did not do. Instead we went to….

Spats Cafe  A blast to the past if ever there was one. Seventies written all over it. We love it and to have both this and Eggless Cafe (which is so very different from Spats) within a short walk of each other is very lucky for us. Spats isn’t quite as crowded as Eggless, but it’s close. You can book.

I can see there are many eating out experiences we’ll be leaving for our next visit, this one coming to a close soon. I pray that Adelaide doesn’t end up like Melbourne with too many cafes and not enough anything elses. For now, it has a great balance and more on that next post.

Porridge again

I had never made my own porridge until I left Melbourne. Why make one’s own when near to hand is the wonderful porridge with caramelised bananas at Cafe Panette, or the classic with cream and brown sugar at Batch. Or a slightly jazzed up version at Richmond Hill Larder. At the moment it is:

Porridge popped: quinoa and oats with pear & raisin compote, honey oats crumble, labna, drizzle of honey 13.0

I have been to posh places in London where porridge is treated like dirt – do I mean they turn it into mud? Well, they might as well, since they serve up a luke warm sludge that tastes no better than it looks. Why put it on the menu if you aren’t going to respect it? In Melbourne porridge has to taste good and look good.

I make this variant quite often: soak oats in a liberal quantity of apple juice – I can get bio at my local market.

Do that overnight and then at breakfast time heat with milk added to taste and chopped ripe banana. This absolutely needs no sugar added as the apple juice is so very sweet.

Milk for the table and that’s it.

Ah, but there is nothing like sitting in a beautiful cafe having other people fussing over your breakfast. For porridge, I like this post which showcases how you get it in Melbourne’s cafes.

2015 Australian visit part II: Best breakfast

Best breakfast in Melbourne

Miss Jackson: Jackson St, St Kilda West

I was crestfallen to discover it has changed hands not so long ago, but a very good cafe has been taken to new heights. We spent a month in Melbourne and sampled the entire menu of Miss Jackson’s less one dish.

Impeccable standards, creative ideas, excellent coffee and more to the point, since it is not to be taken for granted, the best tea, all made it our place of choice in an area where choice is rampant. The staff turned down the music when asked on the only day it seemed to compete with conversation.

This is how good Miss Jackson is: they do brussel sprouts for breakfast. And you see that on the menu and naturally you go elsewhere. To the French toast which is made inhouse, the amazing Indian roti breakfast, the housemade baked beans , the – you get the drift. But as you work your way through the menu eventually you are at that point. You’ve eaten a dozen perfect breakfasts at Miss Jackson. The staff keep telling you how good the brussel sprouts are. Oh my. They are SO right. The brussel sprouts are brilliant.

Honourable mentions for breakfast

The Duchess of Spotswood

If I lived over that side of town, I think this would make up for being so very far from Miss J. A sophisticated English menu executed with care AND they let me have a toasted sandwich off the kiddies’ menu – yeah, as well as a proper breakfast.

The Auction Rooms

Maybe the same is to be said for this North Melbourne institution. Hang out with youngsters and you pick up their habits, I guess. We queued to get into this place with my nephew. I sat there in a line thinking so much for principles. Once we started eating I had to admit that breaking a principle may sometimes be the best thing one can do with it.


Nothing’s changed here, it packs them in for breakfast with good reason.

Best breakfast in Adelaide

Chianti Classico wins my vote. An exquisite highend menu delivers what it promises. It has by far the best toast we had while away – their own ciabatta is superb. It’s also most expensive, but I am happy to pay extra for a cloth serviette, no (or quiet) music, and the extra-special service.

Others we regularly go to when in Adelaide have remained good without starring are Mother’s Milk and Rosey’s on Unley Road. Adding to the scene there is Pickle in the Middle, more or less across the road from Rosey’s. Their breakfast menu put me off a bit – scary healthy.

Manny, for example, had this:

Breakfast greens 15
Poached egg, shredded kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, snow peas, brown rice + red quinoa, pickled chilli lime vinaigrette (GF, V; available Vgn)

But why would I not trust a place competing in an area where that must be tough? It was really good. If we’d gone back I would have been trying it.

Normally we do a bit of travelling afield to try new breakfast places in Adelaide, but this time we didn’t manage. We did step inside The Loose Caboose on a Sunday morning, but there was a queue and we had a train to catch. The only other new place we tried was Bar Nine on Glen Osmond Road, you could walk right by without noticing it – and we did. Yet when you get inside it’s a bit like St Ali in South Melbourne: packed to the rafters. We found the food a bit disappointing here: it looks better written down than in the delivery. But I’d be willing to try it again, all the same. And the presentation of tea is truly weird. One way or another they didn’t charge me for my tea, but despite that concession, I wouldn’t order it again.

Chez Dre

Christmas Eve, cleaning up my files. This one slipped through the radar at the time I wrote it.

For me, Chez Dre didn’t really work. The food looks fantastic – and I imagine that the cakey sorts of things are the go, but for a non-sugar eater that isn’t helpful. Don’t get me wrong, if you put this place anywhere in Europe I’d go there every day and be thrilled it was there. But in the middle of an Australian city, it isn’t anything to get excited by.

Chez Dre in South Melbourne
Chez Dre in South Melbourne

Chez Dre (2)

Chez Dre (3)

Hunting for Anglo-Saxon bread in Geneva

One of the things we all most miss when away from home is the bread we are used to. I’ve never really understood why I’m supposed to be all excited here about French bread. I guess that’s partly because the breads I miss most are all Italian. Fancy living in a place where Italian is a national language, but the Italian bread’s no good. Even more surprisingly, when I went to Venice a couple of years ago the bread was no good there either. Maybe it’s the Cornish pasty syndrome all over again, the idea that tradition is more strongly protected away from home and so the Italians in Australia do things better than in Italy.

Another serious bread problem here is getting good white Anglo-Saxon bread, something for which local Australians and English yearn. That, I’ve finally found this year. Globus does a loaf called Jasper which is perfect for white bread occasions. A steak sandwich for example. My steak sandwiches are made with fillet steak and who wants a tough sourdough messing with that delicate meat?

Another is Joe’s Muffins. I’m surprised to see I haven’t yet posted about these. It is a staple on the breakfast menu at Cafe Panette opposite the South Melbourne market. I have a strong distaste for those things in plastic packets that are called English muffins, so I started a trend in my circle of friends to have this on sourdough instead. But much better again is good plain white bread so my happiness was great when I discovered, finally, something that would pass the test here. Jasper bread. Yum. By the way, some French places have a thing they call English bread. It is always dire, avoid at all costs.

Preheat an oven and while that’s happening, layer from the bottom up:

a piece of toast, buttered if you like
avocado, sliced and squashed down onto the toast or mashed
the very nicest tomato deseeded and sliced
bacon which you have first fried: you can dice this or leave it as larger pieces.
cheddar cheese, sliced

As usual, the plainer the fare, the more it rests on the quality of its ingredients. I wouldn’t make this without the best bread, tomatoes and bacon. Avocado is either good or bad. And the cheddar is a matter of personal opinion.

Pop this into the oven until the cheese has melted. The reason I think this is better on soft English style white bread is the thickness and layers. If you really have to hack through strong bread to get a mouth-sized portion of this, by the time you’d done it, you’re building up a sweat and everything has capsized into a mess – and breakfast, as somebody wise should have once said, is not meant to be a time of struggle. Perhaps life isn’t meant to be easy, but surely, Mr Fraser, we are talking about life as it develops after breakfast.

Dr Jekyll

I was one of the first customers of Dr Jekyll when it opened. It has really grown since, a bigger menu, always packed with what I’m guessing are locals, not backpackers who seem largely to stay on Acland St. It’s an area with a lot of competition, but we could have eaten here every day. The only downside was juices being bottled, not fresh.

Dr Jekyll in Grey St
Dr Jekyll in Grey St

Dr Jekyll (2)

Look at this gorgeous roesti – you wouldn’t believe it, but I’ve never had a good roesti in Europe, whereas in Australia I’ve yet to have a bad take.

Dr Jekyll

Il Fornaio

I haven’t mentioned yet that on our last trip to Australia, your intrepid explorers risked much to eat 48 breakfasts over the course of 6 weeks – yes, it is true, we sometimes had more than one breakfast on the one day. This we did for you, dear reader, to show you as much as we could of the true state of affairs in Breakfast Land as Australia could surely be renamed.

Il Fornaio's take on bircher. Mmmmm.
Il Fornaio’s take on bircher. Mmmmm.

Il Fornaio (2)

Wonderful. I only wish I had pictures to show you of our evening there where their cheeses proved irresistible. It is not demonstrated in number of shots, but for my money this might have been the best of the lot.