Top Paddock: Stallion Muesli

This particular  morning I ventured out to Richmond which is much further away from Brunswick than I thought – but probably still not far enough to complain about. I think my confusion stems from not having much of a concept of the East of Melbourne, or of Victoria for that matter. Some might call this a sheltered existence but when almost 100% of your destinations for the last 5 years can be summarised in two words – Parkville Precinct – you tend to have a more narrow focus. Or become lazy.

I was lucky enough to be spending to morning out with The Milkmaid who had suggested that we try Top Paddock in Church Street. I would have cycled there except I was not-so-stoically enduring the second cold that I had earned in my time at the Royal Children’s Hospital – kids are great – so we drove. I mention this only because the benevolent Pope Eggs-Benedict, who was a welcome and coined-up surprise addition to the party, ended up having to pay for parking to enable us to get anywhere near the place – not a good start to the morning. I’m rambling a bit about the prelude to the breakfast to cover up the fact that I did not get a good look inside Top Paddock because at 9:30am it was full. As I am the type of cavalier (impatient) breakfaster that will endure freezing temperatures to eat muesli, my company and I sat outside. My impression of the place is, therefore, that it was cold.

As my brain was numbed by hunger, the very helpful and up-to-date Top Paddock website reminds me that I asked for:

Bircher Muesli with natural yoghurt and green tea poached fruit

Green tea?! Ah, the exotic East-ish of Melbourne. Here is what that looked like:


Everything about this visual feast is endearing to me. I very much enjoy the whole poached pear plonked proudly atop a mound of moist muesli. The micro-herbs (an entity that I had never before encountered – how uncouth I must be!) trail delicately around the dish giving it a whimsical, Springtime look. Additionally, for a change berries take a backseat as they create a darkly rich frame for the aforementioned pear protrusion. Seeing as I did not simply stare at my muesli I should mention how it tasted. The overarching theme here is lightness. There was a lovely balance of sweet shredded apple and tart, citrusy herbs. The green tea infusion left me with a very pleasing, dusky aftertaste that was one of the best things about this unique muesli. Finally, a note must be made of the moist density of this Top Paddock dish which is a texture that makers of Bircher muesli should strive for.

I would be remiss not to include a note on the Top Paddock porridge which I enviously watched The Milkmaid order and eat, despite me being visually and nutritionally sated:


Man oh man. Oats oh oats. Flowers and rhubarb and micro-herbs and pistachios! Those are all of the things I can see but sadly did not taste. Apparently it was “full-bodied, thick and creamy…with the sugar caramelising into toffee” (Milkmaid, 2013). It kills me that these are not my descriptors, I’ll have to go back for this!

Overall: If you wake up early with hungry eyes-and-stomach, go to Top Paddock and feast on the cereal. Try not to pay for parking.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!


Top Paddock on Urbanspoon

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:


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!


Small Block on Urbanspoon

Fifteen Pounds: Lightweight Muesli

My latest breakfast outing saw me venture out by the Hurstbridge Line to visit the new stomping grounds of the lovely Madame Macchiato, in the suburb of Fairfield which is known for its boathouse and proximity to Northcote. I do not mean to suggest with my allusion to the rail that I took the train, as I make a concerted effort to avoid public transport at all costs in preference to the power generated by my lower limbs or – at a similar horsepower – by a borrowed, third-hand Citroen. This is in equal parts due to my being a bit of a cheapskate (this is a muesli and not a ‘big breakfast’ blog after all) and seeming to always have to travel in an East-West direction which is the domain of the cumbersome and unreliable bus service. I seem to be griping about infrastructure lately, I’ll try not to lose sight of what matters here: oats.

Upon arriving at Fifteen Pounds I was immediately struck by how untreated it seemed. The crisp pre-9am sunlight was streaming in through the front window adding a golden glow to the pale timber furnishings. These tables and chairs are of a naturalistic, not obviously varnished style as if they have been simply hammered together freshly hewn. The place has a raw, earthy feel to it which is enhanced by a hanging feature of a tree branch suspending birds alighting on jars, a surreal piece that looks good but on reflection does not make a lick of sense! Perhaps a comment on how close all things in nature are to becoming jam? A sobering thought. Another piece of decor I quite enjoyed was a prominent water tank that contained brightly coloured citrus fruit floating enticingly within. The bright yellow and green made the water seem so clean and inviting – it is this sort of a contraption that could turn children off soft drink and help end the obesity epidemic – or at least that is how optimistic I felt looking at it.

Basking in the glow of water cooler over-significance, I turned my attention to the menu. For the first time in my life, I was prompted to take a menu photo – like a Loch Ness Monster or UFO sighting it was blurry and mostly obscured by the flash but I came away with the evidence of:


Thats: House Made Bircher w/ apples, carrots, fresh juice, organic yoghurt & berries for those with a cynical eye.

 Carrots! I was intrigued. Lets see what the muesli housing this vegetable interloper came out looking like:


Instant disappointment! The last thing this hungry Miss wants when she orders breakfast is for it to be served in a quantity able to be artfully arranged in a drinking glass. The first port of call was how to fit the spoon in without creating an Archimedes-in-the-bath type situation – it took uncharacteristic finesse but the incentive of eating generally drives me to complete great feats and so I managed. What I found was a very sweet muesli which was in part due to the overbearing volume of berries and also to the oats having been soaked with juice instead of the usual milk. The juicy taste did trick me into feeling refreshed so that was nice. Upon closer examination I was able to note streaks of orange buried in the mass of yoghurt and berries and I subsequently enjoyed the earthiness that the carrots contributed to the meal. Carrot is such a versatile vegetable – well done, evolution! Despite this foray into root vegetables, Fifteen Pounds did not excite me with this muesli. Berries and sugar stole the show in the end which unfortunately left me feeling unsatisfied, but fortunately prompted me to buy a muffin for the road – which was delicious.

Final word: Do not order the muesli at Fifteen Pounds if you are hungry or are offended by the idea of breakfast in drinking glasses. The cafe is, however, worth a visit if not only to marvel at the water dispenser.

(Not So) Good Muesli, Melbourne!


Fifteen Pounds on Urbanspoon

Wide Open Road: This Muesli is Going Places!

Sydney road and its tributaries are lush with interesting places to eat, instead of with any sort of natural foliage (interesting given the tree-lined beauty that is its continuation, Royal Parade). Traffic flows sluggishly through this Brunswick artery, hardened with concrete on all sides bar the sky – which on this particular Sunday morning was a warm Autumn blue and happily not yet the steely grey that will set the tone for the coming months. Understand that I say all of this with the wan fondness bred from a life of habitation and there is nowhere in Melbourne that I would rather live!

Anyway, this discourse on Sydney Road is slightly tangential as the place I was taken for breakfast – Wide Open Road – is on Barkly Street opposite Barkly Square (soon to proudly house a JB-HiFi!). Wide Open Road is a light-brick building that looms large over the footpath. This stark exterior belies an indoors that I did not, in one of my recent posts, quite believe existed – I had  serendipitously found myself in a cosy warehouse! What has led me to make this grand statement? One word: terrariums. Plural. Wide Open Road is decorated by terrariums large and small, of all shapes and sizes – but mostly spheres and rectangular prisms. Flourishing in the soil of these microcosmic ecosystems were reedy-looking plants, leafy-looking plants and cacti. I’m really not a green thumb, but a I am a green eye in that I like seeing other people’s healthy flora. I also found plants peeping endearingly out behind wall columns that would have otherwise been bare and uninviting. Wide Open Road has (photo)synthesised nature with the industrial feel of impressive metallic, spherical ceiling lights that hang over dark fabric booths and the fans that whir lazily overhead to create a dynamic and interesting space for dining. I did manage to stop overanalysing my surroundings for long enough to ask the harried waitress for:

Bircher muesli with stone fruit compote and oat crumble

Whenever I see the word ‘compote’ I think of mafiosos in pinstripe suits, my silly association cortex has linked it irreversibly to ‘Capone’ I suppose. Old timey gang leaders aside, the muesli looked as follows:


What a dark and mysterious muesli this is! After some of the garish offerings I have witnessed of late I was glad to see this dusky dish appear in front of me. The thing that immediately set the Wide Open Road muesli apart from the rest was the roasted nut and oat crumble lavishly strewn over it. I was particularly pleased to find cashew nuts nestled within the mix adding their smokey creaminess to the dish and giving it the feel of a guilty pleasure rather than a wholesome breakfast – I can never resist a naughty cashew or twenty. The crunchiness of the crumble almost managed to overshadow the other accompaniment to this muesli, the compote. With the help of Ms Sourdough I was able to determine that it was most likely plum that, thanks to the internet, I can say was masterfully stewed in syrup or sugar (that is, compoted) to the point of soft fleshy semi-resistance. Furthermore, the natural yogurt was tart and dense with a smorgasbord of seeds, namely sunflower and poppy, along with oats, grated apple and an odd sneaky dried apple piece that would give the lucky mouthful a delicious leathery chewiness. The Wide Open Road muesli was packed with flavour and texture, and left me so full that I later turned down free samples of who-knows-what-but-normally-I’d-have-three being handed out in the aisles of Barkly Square Coles. That is just about the highest honour a muesli can earn.

Overall: Do not drive to Wide Open Road as this is an ironic name given its proximity to the very congested Sydney road. Rather, find any other means of transport to take yourself to this cosy warehouse and insist upon the muesli – you will not eat until lunch.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!


Wide Open Road on Urbanspoon

Green Refectory: Pink Muesli?!

To commemorate the birthday of Lady Grey, I decided to take her out for breakfast at the cheapest place I could think of. The Green Refectory immediately jumped to mind as I have been there many times and am repeatedly delighted to pay not-very-much for very-lovely-things. Yesterday’s muffins for two dollars? A thousand times yes. Thus, I felt this was the perfect place to show my maker how much I care for her.

The Green Refectory is a narrow cafe tucked in next to a shoe store and a tram stop just South of Weston Street on Sydney Road. There is nothing to invite the casual passer-by to enter the glassy facade – no outdoor dining to suggest that this is a place of joyous consumption (and I am not referring to happy Tuberculosis, found in much more tropical climes). Indeed, the bustle of trams, humans and narrow footpaths is a most inhospitable setting for exterior eating and so I commend the Green Refectory for not trying. Do note that for those that enjoy eating in the elements, there is a backyard to this place that I cannot fully remember sitting in but of which I have a vague sense of quaint, leafy claustrophobia.

One of the perks of going anywhere to eat at 8:30 on a week-day morning is that a fair proportion of the breakfast-populace has either eaten earlier and gone to work (respectable) or just gone to work (understandable). Happily this allows those with more flexible schedules – at the moment – to swoop in and claim a seat unchallenged. In a place like the Green Refectory where the long wooden tables are often bustling with communal diners and the smaller private tables are much coveted by less sharing individuals (such as myself), an easy week-morning seat was a relief. That relief, however was countered somewhat by the anxiety of having to squint myopically up at the menu etched onto a blackboard above the counter, and then recite accurately my decision to the friendly wait staff. A warning, the busy nature of the Green Refectory is such that I have always had to chase up my coffee, sometimes even having to reorder it. Or at least, I hope this is due to busyness and not disdain for me!

On this occasion, my breakfast hinged on an order of:

Bircher Muesli w sweetened or natural yoghurt or cream

I was presented with a submenu of dairies to decide upon – luckily I have the nous to understand that cream is for cakes and hot chocolates, and sweetened yoghurt is for putting ice-cream in, not oats. My natural yoghurt-Bircher combo eventually emerged:


Yes, a tower of pink muesli is really what we are seeing here. As if modelled on the Egyptian pyramids, complete with strawberry capstone and sandy-cinnamon perimeter garnish, this flamboyant number is one out of the box. Once I calmed my overstimulated eyeballs, I was able to mush the absurdly, delightfully placed yoghurt into the muesli-proper and eat. What I encountered was a crisp density of apple and nuts. The Green Refectory does not skimp on almonds and hence this meal is a crunch-fest. Between hard foods I also found a strong presence of soft ones, happily including banana – king of breakfast fruit – and a saturation of berries. Indeed, the violent colour of this muesli is most likely not due to a manic chef squirting red food dye/cordial/blood into the breakfast but rather from the natural ooze of broken berries.The Green Refectory muesli also contains the culinary triple threat of the aforementioned banana, cinnamon and honey. Lots of honey. I felt my pancreas thank me for not ordering the sweetened yoghurt as the tartness of the natural yoghurt was all that stood between me and blood-sugar central.

Overall: The Green Refectory muesli is a sight to behold and sweetly pleasant to be-taste. It is also very cheap. So if you are after a crunchy wake-up meal and are not afraid to go chasing coffees, roll in to the Green Refectory and grab a muffin as you roll out.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!


Green Refectory on Urbanspoon

Little Henri: A Muesli Prodigy

The other week I navigated the foggy area of meal-time that is brunch as one of my companions that day, Captain Cappuccino (who just likes chocolate), touts a hearty late-morning meal as his hangover cure. Not being seedy enough to require curing from a  midweek hangover I begrudgingly had pre-muesli toast at my normal breakfast time to stem the tide of hunger pains that would no doubt plague me if I did not make inroads into breaking my fast. As toast is not muesli it will certainly not be reviewed here.

The venue chosen for this outing was Little Henri, an unassuming (only because I walked right past it, more a comment on my lack of observation) building on High Street, just South of Dundas Street in Thornbury. Little Henri can be summarised as an aloof warehouse. The high ceilings, regimented timber and metal furnishings as well as the large  timber-framed windows create an atmosphere of airy anonymity – this building does not care who dines, just that the function of dining is accomplished. This is in contrast to cosy-warehouses that envelop you with warmth and lavish you with attention. OK, perhaps I have never been to a cosy warehouse and maybe they don’t exist but I’m making the point that Little Henri feels aloof so there you go. This is not to say that I didn’t like the interior, I found the clean, repetitive, industrial style of it all very pleasing – it appeals to the obsessive compulsive in me who in principle hates clutter and irregularity (but in practice is clumsy so things tend to get knocked askew).

Anyway, with the brunch team assembled, I was ready to tackle:

Bircher muesli w/ poached pear, yoghurt, pistachio + rose petals

Thank you, urbanspoon menu photographers. The reality of this food-promise is as follows:


Muesli on a plate! Things sure do get weird around brunch-time. I am, however, of the school that plates are for meat and (three) vegetables, not oats and their associates. Every morsel of a breakfast needs to be able to be scraped up and without a bowl we are getting into spoon-and-knife territory – and  you don’t bring a knife to a muesli fight. Just a bowl.

Moving on to the muesli itself, I was intrigued reading the menu as to what rose petals would be contributing to the dish. I had visions of blood-red petals artfully arranged – a romantic offering from the seemingly aloof Henri? What came out was much more grounded in culinary reality and was a lovely surprise. The rose petals gave this muesli a hint of the Mediterranean which served to accentuate the cool, tart yoghurt. The poached pear – which is now becoming my favourite muesli accompaniment – was moist, crunchy and subtly sweet. Another innovation in the Little Henri muesli were the chewy clusters of (probably) honey-roasted oats and pistachio scattered throughout. These not only fulfilled my love of chewing, but also my love of oats. Oats are wonderful nestled in yoghurt, but they are also divine in biscuits and cakes. Little Henri managed to combine the two personalities of oats – the respectable breakfast oat with the cheeky dessert oat – to create a deliciously original muesli.

Final Word: Find Little Henri and ask for his muesli. Despite this cafe’s coolness, it will serve you up an innovative breakfast that will only leave you wanting more.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!


Little Henri on Urbanspoon

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:


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!


Cafe Lua 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:


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:


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

Hot Poppy: The Muesli Does Not Need to be Smoked to be Enjoyed

Yes, the title of this post is a warning to any Victorian-era time-travellers or fetishists out there looking for a pipe – Hot Poppy is not a den of ill repute. Rather, it is an earthy cafe on the corner of Errol and Victoria Streets in North Melbourne. Unfortunately I cannot give very much of a comment on the interior of this place as my co-conspirator that warm morning was already seated outside when I arrived. I do have a lingering sense of thick, good-quality timber as the material making up the Hot Poppy facade but you can take that with the grain of wheat it deserves (this is a muesli blog, salt has no place here).

I did, however, have my first documentable out-door breakfast – a sensory smorgasbord. I experienced the feeling of the wind caressing my still-damp hair and kissing my rosy cheeks, still warm from the exertion of the ride up the Errol street hill; the sight of Miss Chic Pea illuminated in the untempered sunlight; the smell of fresh morning rain and finally, the ungodly screeching of the 57 tram as it turns along Victoria Street. My ears are still ringing (but that could be pathological).

After ordering a coffee I turned my attention to the menu, which had a variety of oaty offerings (from memory at least two) which was pretty ground-breaking but also exposed how painfully indecisive I can be at 7:30 in the morning. I managed to choose:

Homemade bircher muesli with yoghurt and strawberry coulis

This was in equal parts to me knowing what bircher muesli is, and not knowing what “coulis” could possibly be but hoping to find out. It so happens that it is a fancy way of saying “sauce”. For your viewing pleasure:


This is a clearly striking muesli. There is nothing like a bit of visual contrast to excite the tastebuds, and those guys were not disappointed. Contrary to the bold strawberry statement, citrus was the flavour of the day coming across through the orange rind scattered throughout the dish. It was a refreshing difference to the creamy muesli I have endured of late. The Hot Poppy muesli is a dense one, and I would have appreciated a bit of milk to loosen things up. It would have gone nicely with the hazelnuts that, to my delight, made an appearance as the nut of choice in this cereal. Another interesting feature of this muesli was the use of large chunks of dried apple rings, seemingly in place of the standard bircher grated apple. I loved it, not just because the leathery texture is a great thing, but also because I am of the opinion “why have a sliver when you can have a chunk?”. It’s how I live my life.

So I was happily munching my way through breakfast, nattering away safe in the knowledge that I was back on the positive review bandwagon when I was suddenly arrested mid-chew. I had crunched down on something hard. I can only equate it to the feeling you get when you have dropped something tasty and hence precious on the ground, made the decision to ignore what just happened and continue eating, only to then be reminded of your transgression over hygiene by the sensation of chewing on floor-grit. I was initially scared that I was eating my own tooth. I wasn’t. Could it have been a bit of glass? Was it a stone flicked over from the wailing number 57 tram? Was it someone else’s tooth? I will never know because I swallowed it. And as what occurs with guilty floor-food, I continued to eat this muesli because it was delicious.

Final Word: By all means order the muesli at Hot Poppy if you are cereal minded and can ignore my last paragraph. Sit indoors for the sake of your eardrums.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!


Hot Poppy on Urbanspoon

Dr Dax: An Over-Prescriber of Oats

I was lucky enough to be having breakfast during work hours for this outing to Dr Dax Kitchen, a cafe that proudly protrudes like the frontal lobe of a higher primate from the entrance of the Melbourne Brain Centre on Royal Parade. I have (not that) often traipsed over to Dr Dax for coffee on days where I felt that I should treat myself to something nicer than a 7-Eleven $1 special or Zouki’s, but had not really ventured into their solid consumables for lack of time and opportunity. Here was my chance.

Dr Dax is, fondly, nerd central. At all hours of the day people in suits and glasses can be found doing whatever it is they do when they are not at work; which is often working on a laptop, discussing work or waiting for coffee to take back to work. It is a busy place, but I do enjoy the atmosphere. The large westward-facing windows peer over the bustle of Royal Parade to the Royal Melbourne Hospital and further add to the urgent buzz of a place in constant flux. I am yet to visit Dr Dax in weather that would allow me to take advantage of sitting at the tables outside, but I imagine that might be quite nice so long as there are not too many lit cigarettes about.

At Dr Dax you order at the counter and so I cheerfully asked for:

“Your Bircher muesli, thanks!”

Will that be with fruit?”

Ahh, yes(?)”

Oh boy. The first symptom of a muesli disorder had presented itself. I became slightly apprehensive as to what would arrive and my fears were somewhat realised when I was met with:


Now I’m not a psychiatrist but I suspect this muesli has an identity disorder. Here we have a case of fruit salad-on-muesli, the first of which I have come across. To its credit, the fruit salad was fresh and I will never hate on watermelon except to say that it and the rest of the fruit were grossly out of place in this meal. Sorry, watermelon. Basically, there was no attempt at fruit-muesli integration and I doubt even an intense course of cognitive behavioural therapy could make this dish coherent (I’m enjoying barely working in these psychological allusions far too much).

I took a deep breath and moved past the fruit to the muesli, which might have been in the company of two types of yoghurt but I’m not discerning enough to confidently identify them. In fact now I think of it there just might have been an extra dollop of standard yoghurt on top of that which housed the oats. Anyway, another surprise occurred, this time mainly picked up by cranial nerves IX and X as my tongue and palate came to grips with the sheer density of oats that I had just delivered them. Yes, Dr Dax is guilty of handing out oats as if they were anti-depressants. My mood, however, did not improve – especially when I realised that this so-called Bircher muesli did not contain detectable grated apple or nuts! Unfortunately, my enjoyment of this breakfast was based mainly on the quality of the company I was with. And so I had a lovely meal despite the muesli being sub-par. At least it was cold.

Diagnosis: Schizoid-fruit-and-oats disorder with the main issue of it having a delusion of being Bircher muesli. My management of this poor entity would include the regrettable decision to reserve my money to be spent on cases with more hope. The coffee is good, though!

(Not So) Good Muesli, Melbourne!


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