Café Lua: Halle-Lu(j)a(h) – Praise the Muesli!

Capitalising on my moving out of home last week, I managed to wrangle a family (read: free) breakfast at the place of my choice – so long as it was in proximity to Melbourne University and RMIT so that Madame Phở-pas and Mr Scrambled Eggs (who ended up ordering a poached egg) could make it to their respective classes on time. I thus decided to pay a visit to Café Lua, home of the sprawling front on the South-East corner of Drummond and Elgin streets in Carlton.

Café Lua is artsy. This could be due to the use of hessian sacks as wall art – or perhaps it was the art as wall art that tipped me off. Regardless, the décor is striking, especially the glorious chandelier hanging like a school of fish suspended mid-turn from the cavernous ceiling above the counter. A red feature wall further impresses the lusty, open charm of this place as does the fact that the popular café was teeming with many and varied human life-forms the closer it came to 9am. OK, perhaps I have gotten carried away with images of vitality here but Café Lua excited me in a way that makes me want to put on the accent of an English naturalist and narrate sweeping landscape shots of this place. Another thing to note is that the tables and chairs are of the retro linoleum veneer type that brings back memories of microwaved meals-on-wheels at Grandma’s house, and which seem to be in fashion at the moment.

Naturalism and nostalgia aside, after some awkward table service I managed to order:

Muesli – Yoghurt Bircher topped with seasonal poached fruit and roasted almond 

This is a rare complete menu quote! Thank you Café Lua for having a useful website that is not simply a cutesy picture dwarfing the restaurant name with no menu information, as if out of shame for the base activity of eating that conceptually besmirches the establishment (I’m looking at you, Le Miel Et La Lune). Anyway, here is the food interpretation of the menu:

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Presented in a bowl reminiscent of the eye in Egyptian artistry, this muesli defiantly stares back at the diner, daring to be eaten. Challenge accepted. On first bite it was instantly apparent that this was something to write home about. The cool, creamy tartness of the yoghurt was perfectly complimented by the sweet stewed pear. The toasted, flaked almonds added crunch and a smokiness that infused each mouthful with happy memories of cakes, biscuits and Christmas ham – without the overt sweetness or roasted meat-ness of any of those things. Another wonderful inclusion in this breakfast were sunflower seeds, and lots of them, giving an earthy added crunch. I’ve mentioned in a previous post my fondness for the cheerful, giant sunflower – well it turns out I love to eat them (or at least their seed) as well as look at them. Finally, and I will admit that it took a ‘mother’s taste’ on the part of Lady Grey to identify what exactly it was that I was sensing, cinnamon was used in the Café Lua muesli. Yes, it is nothing new that cinnamon and pear are wonderful together, but what a revelation to associate this with my oats and yoghurt! The pleasure of the cinnamon aftertaste at breakfast is not something that one forgets. For Cafe Lua the highest level of praise however was that, after much fumbling, Madam Phở-pas managed to eat this muesli with a fork and recognized its deliciousness despite hating cereal.

Overall: This was glorious muesli, the best that I have encountered to date. Go to Café Lua and politely demand to eat this muesli!

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

Cafe Lua on Urbanspoon

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Fruits of Passion: Muesli of Indifference

On my first observed Labour Day in five years (thanks, Melbourne Uni) and probably my last for quite a number to come (thanks again) I decided to venture out to Kensington to sample the muesli that Fruits of Passion has to offer. I embarked that morning with a light heart and a special smugness that only comes from knowing that many of my friends and family were being forced to learn or work while I would be triumphantly stuffing my face at breakfast with not a care in the world. Suck it, academia!

Fruits of Passion can be found nestled next to Kensington train station on Bellair Street which is a leafy and inviting location – especially on a languidly sunny public-holiday. Inside, Fruits of Passion can only be described as being proudly Melbourne with a pop-culture tic. Trams and suburb names share the walls with newspaper clippings of sensational stories; bright artwork sit alongside large mirrors and (most likely) faux flowering vines extend down from high ceilings. This is the second instance of ceiling plants I have encountered and instead of screaming “uber-quaint-trendiness here!” these gave off more of a pleasant, welcoming, eccentric-aunty feel. The brick walls, mirrors and concrete floors give the place a very cool, open and airy feel which is most appreciated in the midst of an Autumn heat wave. I very much enjoy the Fruits of Passion decor, it even has a mezzanine! Perhaps. Not really – it has maybe three steps to a higher level so you feel a little elevated – but mezzanine is such a romantic word that I thought I’d include it.

Anyway, myself and company were seated in this elevated area and only after poor Baby Chino suffered the always hilarious indignity of a self-inflicted pants wetting (the classic full-glass-in-lap story) could the menu be considered. I was the black sheep of this occasion as Lord and Lady Marmalade, Ms Sourdough and Baby Chino all eagerly ordered the pancakes. I stayed true and asked for:

Bircher Granola Muesli with Mixed Fruit

I am only slightly paraphrasing here as I don’t recall if it was ‘Bircher Granola’ or ‘Granola Bircher’ and was too caught off-guard by the proposed fusion of these two types of muesli to encode the actual details of the fruity accompaniments. With bated breath I received:

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I’ll admit at this point I was having some post-traumatic-esque flash backs to Dr Dax and the fruity mess I was served there. I did not let my trepidation deter me from my task and on first bite found this muesli to be quite sweet – and not in a forgivable yoghurty way but akin to the way that you know Fruit Loops transgresses against your enamel and insulin profile when you eat it. Perhaps that was the granola – oats toasted in honey and oil – and perhaps it was all of the honey drizzled over everything. I was disappointed at the lack of yoghurt to give the tart creaminess that I enjoy with my oats. The muesli was an oaty mush of a dish either due to this inadequate amount of yoghurt; or perhaps to a lack of commitment to milk-pouring leading to this muesli falling short of the more traditional-cereal plane of liquidity. I did enjoy the banana (as I am a Miss Weet-Bix and Banana in my life away from the glamour of the breakfast world), raspberries and blueberries. I think I even detected the odd raisin (or perhaps it was two sultanas stuck together). These, however, were not enough to absolve this dish from the heinous crimes of nut negligence and apple abandonment – the omissions of two vital ingredients in a Bircher muesli.

This was an exercise in confusion. In trying to make a “Bircher Granola” Fruits of Passion took the worst aspect of granola – sweetness – and did not balance it with the tartness of yoghurt and apple. My hopes were such that this would be a gateway to reviewing granola, but frankly all the Fruits of Passion muesli has done is put me off.

Final Word: Fruits of Passion disappointed me with this muesli. In such a lovely setting I was left to watch, flushed with envy, as my company devoured their sumptuous pancakes – which I would definitely come back to try.

(Not So) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

Fruits of Passion on Urbanspoon

Pearl Oyster: Shucking Good Muesli

The combination of the words pearl and oyster to create Pearl Oyster upsets my brain. I want to like it; I own pearls, have eaten an oyster and love all things sea-related (except sea snakes, those are awful) however being made to consider “Pearl Oyster” as a name puts me on edge. Is the oyster made of pearl? Is this a pearl-bearing oyster? Am I obsessing over something trivial? Regardless, I’m not looking forward to having to write this cafe’s name out repeatedly here.

Very early last Saturday morning I managed to move beyond my name hang-ups and  visit Pearl Oyster, located on Miller Street just East of Gilbert Road. The modest exterior belies an extensive indoor and out-door dining area that is very dedicated to a theme. That theme is Grandma-Cool. To give the place credit I felt instantly at home, with the decor effectively embodying the coastal old-folksiness of my childhood – minus the old lady musk (not unfortunately). The indoor space was decked out in Vs – vinyl, veneer and vintage – and while some may sneer at the pretentiousness of it all, I’m the sort to get excited about this level of commitment. It’s commitment like this that makes people good at karaoke, and wins Nobel prizes – Pearl Oyster’s achievement fits somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.

Being a lovely Autumn morning my company and I elected to sit outdoors where we found an umbrella-shaded table with plastic chairs, on fake grass. The grandma-teaparty theme extends even to the outdoors! The icing on this visual cake came in the form of a crop of very cheery sunflowers that reminded me how much I enjoy bright, giant flora. I forgot to check if they were real and to be honest I’m glad I did not indulge my inner cynic – I choose to believe that they were living.

Anyway, after spending zero time deliberating I ordered:

Muesli

I cannot remember any other descriptors in the menu as it was too early in the morning to bother with things like critical appraisal of muesli-in-text – I wanted muesli-in-mouth. Here is muesli-in-eyes:

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What’s this? The visual pizzaz of berries has been shunned for a more homely nut exhibition. Pistachios were the guests of honour in this dish, a welcome addition to the standard company of nuts – almonds and hazelnuts (how blasé I have become, it was not three weeks ago that I was gushing over hazelnuts. Move over guys, there’s a new favourite in town). The prominence of nuts in this muesli was enjoyable in both taste and texture. This was a pretty light muesli otherwise in that the oats were not super concentrated nor was the yoghurt particularly thick. I noticed a pale, white liquid within this dish and came to the conclusion that it was either yoghurt juice, or that a small amount of milk had been added. The latter option is a dangerous one as the amount of milk added to a Bircher muesli is a very individual decision and can spell disaster if you overdo it (bitter, bitter experience talking here). Pearl Oyster got it right, though! Also if it was just a fluke of yoghurt juice perfectly loosening up the muesli, this would be the first time I have ever happily enjoyed what is without a doubt the worst part of yoghurt on a meal.

There were two other ingredients of note in the Pearl Oyster muesli, the first being figs. Figs! What a nice surprise. The other represents the only failing of the cafe theme – Granny Smith apples did not appear to be used, rather the red tinge to some of the grated apple suggested the employ of a Pink Lady. I much prefer pink lady apples, but they probably contributed (with the help of delicious coconut, apricot and honey) to this muesli being pretty sweet. As my father says, however: “there are plenty more teeth in the sea”, so the sweetness of this breakfast did not weigh too heavily on my mind.

Final Words: Buy this muesli if you are craving nuts and want a sweet treat for breakfast, but also still want to be kept regular with fibre and dried fruits.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

Pearl Oyster on Urbanspoon