Small Block: Geometric Muesli

On a semi-recent cold Winter morning, Baby Chino and myself set out for a brisk (but shamefully short) bike ride to Small Block, an unassuming cafe-front at the cool end (my end) of Lygon Street, where we were meeting the indomitable Ms Sourdough and the ever-elusive Doctor Dessert for breakfast.

Small Block plays heavily on a simple maths theme. For those of you who quiver at the site of the quadratic equation, or simply get angry with algebra – this is a safe place. There is a number wall with single digits pleasingly arranged in a tetris-like collage; there is a giant happy-coloured abacus adorning another wall and there are games aplenty for those so inclined to play as they eat. As there would be nothing like a good board-tipping followed by a huffy walkout to spoil a morning out, I refrain from playing games in public so this feature is lost on me. The decor was very sparse and basic, with concrete floors and functional ugly-but-comfy chairs – just what you would expect from a left-brained establishment.

The menu is found on a blackboard on one of the walls, and so I was able to make full use of my updated glasses prescription to ask for:

The bircher muesli, please

The answer to this equation was worked out as follows:

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What a neat pile of muesli. I enjoyed the rays of cinnamon framing the meal like a halo, an appropriate presentation for the glory that is cereal. Speaking of wonderful things, I would have to say the best thing about Winter is rhubarb. I will never stop being pleased to see it and today was no exception – such volume of chunks! The praise, however, does not continue much beyond this superficial level. The Small Block muesli was very light on the oats and heavy on the coconut, resulting in the dish tasting very much like a rhubarb crumble. Now, I am all for breakfast-dessert, but here I was expecting a breakfast-breakfast and so was not loving this dessert-dessert masquerading as muesli. It was all very sweet and crumbly, with sultanas and possibly dates providing some enjoyable chewiness – which is all well and good except I would soon have no teeth to chew with if I continued to eat breakfast with the sort of sugar content that the Small Block muesli seemed to have.

Final Word: If you are not a diabetic (or prepared to increase your insulin dose if you are) and feeling like some yoghurty rhubarb-crumble for breakfast, try the Small Block Muesli. If you value your teeth and pancreas perhaps stick to the eggs.

(Not So) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Small Block on Urbanspoon

Clique3: Porridge I Could Be Friends With

Undaunted by last week’s failed foray into porridge, I decided to take advantage of the benevolence of Lady Grey whose maternal instinct now extends to buying her moved-out-so-must-be-starving (or at least that’s the act I maintain) daughter breakfast once in a while. I did not have any idea where she was taking me, I only hoped that when we got there that I would be greeted by a menu that did not smugly slip in a ‘semolina’ or ‘sago’ in front of my now-coveted winter breakfast.

We managed to survive the gauntlet that is Albert Street in Brunswick, dodging and weaving around parked and moving vehicles alike, to arrive at Clique3. This was a warmly lit, cosy place offset nicely by the grizzly, overcast street outside. Of note there were inverted wire ceiling fixtures upon which dark butterflies alight – or perhaps I’ll decide to interpret them as moths, as we do not see enough of these hairy  oddballs in decor. Interior designers, take note. In terms of furniture there were large timber communal tables which we thankfully did not have to share this early on a weekday (I’m not a dignified eater, it’s best those in proximity are not strangers and are used to my excited, hearty manner of consumption) and at the far end of the room there was a single table with an eclectic collage of fabric chairs which I did not feel up to navigating that morning but did help the place to look quaint.

Unfortunately Cliqueis one of those places in which you have to order at the counter. Fortunately my hungry eye instantly spied what I was after and so I was spared that special awkwardness of umming and ahhing while a line of people behind you shift impatiently from foot to foot. I cheerily asked for:

Porridge with grilled banana

This is only a paraphrase as I was too overcome by the relief of not finding some dread qualifier in front of the word porridge. Here is what emerged:

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Joy! A big ol’ bowl of oats. I immediately wrapped my perpetually icy hands around the sides and let the rejuvenation begin. Instantly my capillaries dilated as the heat seeped from porridge to person,  colour creeping up to my fingers as blood was finally given permission to flow there. Alright, I’ll stop the melodrama, but I was pretty happy. As for the porridge itself; it was hot, creamy and densely oaty. The grilled banana and honey accompaniment perfectly contributed a sweet mushiness to the chunky porridge. I should also commend Cliquein that they managed to get the amount of milk just right to give the meal some movement without drowning it. Finally, they did not skimp on the serving size – there would have been nothing worse than getting a simple glassful of this porridge.

Final Word: If your fingers, hands or cockles of your heart need warming, join this Cliquebefore Winter ends and get them to make you their porridge.

(Just as good as) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

 
Clique3 on Urbanspoon

Footscray Milking Station: Porridge(?) That Needs To Be Put Out To Pasture

I woke up in a state of nervous excitement this morning. No, it was not my wedding day, not even my birthday – today was to be my first porridge review – eeep! While I am a major proponent of muesli in all of its cold glory, I have recently been looking forward to the turning of the seasons so that I would have an excuse to order and review the (hopefully) fancy cafe version of muesli’s hot, steamy cousin – porridge.

For this momentous occasion I ventured out West to visit Footscray Milking Station, a cafe nestled amongst the residences at the corner of the leafy Bunbury and Cowper Streets. My sole rationale for going there was that the name seemed quaint and I wanted to feel farmy – and that my intuition told me this would be a place that knows how to treat oats. Lucky for me I don’t often rely on my intuition, but more on that later. Footscray Milking Station has a surprisingly dark exterior serving only to accentuate the cheeriness of the green front door. The interior has a cosy rural feel imparted by a light brick wall, unadorned except for milk vats perched upon wooden shelves. Additionally, the small, square windows closed the place in creating a sense of homely warmth in contrast to the overcast morning outside.

It was to the strains of slow, grand 60s pop music that I contentedly examined the menu. I’ll admit that I felt a slight regret as I lingered on, and then passed over, the muesli on offer. Instead I elected  for:

Semolina porridge with rhubarb and pear compote

It is only on transcribing the menu here right now that I have come to realise that what I ordered was semolina porridge, and that at the time my glucose-starved brain could only equate the word porridge with oats and thought that semolina was just an adjective! Well, I had no idea and so the vitriol I had planned to spew in the coming paragraph now feels hollow. How disappointing! Here is what emerged:

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Safe to say, I was expecting a warm bowl of gloopy oats in milk and so was completely baffled when this bizarre dish came out. It was awful. In retrospect I should have twigged when I was saying things like “how did they manage to obliterate the oats so completely?” that this was because there were no oats to begin with. Here, I was going to snarkily support the equally oblivious Lady Marmalade’s  comment that it had the texture of wallpaper glue. It did, but I think that might be intrinsic to semolina as a food. The Milking Station could have saved the dish with the tart magnificence that is rhubarb, however the compote was a sparse, inadequate distraction from the nightmare I had been served. If only I had realised what semolina was in time (and not almost 8 hours later)! This heavy pâté that was masquerading as “porridge” did fill me up, but not in a good way – I was determined to eat morning tea as soon as I got home so as to quickly erase this food memory.

Seeing as this post now has nothing to do with oats, I’ll go even further off track and share the pancakes that were ordered by Baby Chino – who doesn’t like cereal or eggs and so is rather restricted when we go out to breakfast:

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It is not just due to the questionable quality of my photography that these look like burnt pork medallions. Baby Chino reported that he has had pikelets bigger than these and that the money to pancake ratio left much to be desired. We were both disappointed this morning, it seems.

It was due to mainly my own ignorance that I had a terrible breakfast at Footscray Milking Station. I cannot comment on the quality of the semolina porridge as for all I know it is supposed to taste like floury, uncooked dough. All I can say is that I will never order it again especially as I now associate it with broken dreams and injured pride.

I suppose I should be happy that this doesn’t count as my first true porridge review.

(Not even close to) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

Footscray Milking Station on Urbanspoon