Cafe Lua Revisited: A Disappointing Sequel

After having such a positive experience at Cafe Lua more than a year ago, I had no hesitation recommending this cafe/art space as somewhere relatively central to meet some old and new breakfast companions. Yes, it might be slightly pricey, but I this was a special occasion – I was showing off to Short Stack and Madame Bacon.

My hopes were high as I flipped through the menu, and then sunk lower when I found that Cafe Lua was still in Winter mode and I would not be eating a cool, creamy muesli but rather a:

Porridge of some description

I do like porridge as it is the warm, mushy cousin of muesli; however on a sunny Spring morning being greeted with the prospect of porridge when muesli was expected is kind of like being given work clothes for your birthday – useful, potentially tasty, but a bit disappointing.

Normally I would move straight on to a photo of said porridge, but I will delay. This is because (and I’m not usually one to comment on service as I’m here for the oats) we had to wait for almost 40 minutes before being told that there had been a “printing error” – which I guess I understand, printers are notoriously fickle, but how does this relate to my situation? – and we would have to wait a further 15 minutes for our breakfasts. My God, we were being pushed into brunch territory. We were offered a free drink each as compensation, which I and my similarly-minded friends jumped right on and ordered smoothies – which we received mini versions of. The wait did give us plenty of time to chat, but honestly, who wants to do that on an empty stomach? Here is what finally arrived:

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Firstly, porridge should not occupy the bottom quarter of a wide, shallow bowl. Secondly, regardless of what amazing ingredients might have been used to create this dish, the first overwhelming mouth impression that I got was that it was tepid. My next course of action was to find solace in the rhubarb…and it was cold. The horror. THE HORROR! Yes, I suppose I could have asked for them to warm it up but honestly, at this stage I was wallowing in self-righteous indigence at the travesty of having to wait almost an hour for cool porridge and have to eat it at a time that can only be described as brunch. Brunch! Not even creamy, coconutty oats are going to save a lukewarm porridge from being one of the worst things ever. It is like whoever made it did not care one bit – and apathy is something I cannot abide. I do not enjoy being disappointed and this one stung badly.

Final Word: If you are out to breakfast and are feeling masochistic, go to Cafe Lua and try their porridge.

(Not So) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Cafe Lua on Urbanspoon

The Elk and Pea: Muesli Worth Enduring the Current Government For

This weekend I found myself driving to Canberra with Madam Macchiato to visit the beautiful (but deadly) Kommandant Kale, who has left Melbourne to answer the noble call of public service. Initially, while I was very happy for my dear friend, I not-so-secretly thought that she was in for a boring and depressing year in our nation’s capital. This was based on nothing but the general disdain that Melbournians tend to have for anywhere more than 15km out from the CBD (unless we are talking about “the beach”, which we just loooove with a self-righteous air of ownership). My view changed on Saturday morning, however, as seeing the capital for the first time in the light (the drive was awfully long – we arrived in the dark) I realised that it is a gorgeous garden city! With the impending upheaval of Royal Park to make way for the East-West link, this was a revelation as I have now found a city that is a essentially giant park with buildings scattered amongst it all to escape to. I could live in Canberra! Whew, I said it.

We chose The Elk and Pea on the safely-named Lonsdale Street in somewhere called Braddon for our first venture – which was, I’m ashamed to say, a brunch. The intermediary meal of brunch throws me off-kilter for the day, punishment for waking up after 9am I suppose. We arrived and were shocked to be asked if we had a booking. Booking for brunch? What did they think they were, the Langham Hotel? The wait staff apologetically asked us to share a table with others outside, which was an unnecessary sentiment as there was an abundance of space on said table – if this was Melbourne there would have been four tables crammed into the space allocated for this one. Refreshing. In terms of decor, I can only comment on the table cloth, which made me quite happy as it carried a cheery sunflower pattern. Otherwise, it was nice to have a quiet, unhurried meal in the middle of a capital city.

Without further ado I will get to the main event which involved me ordering:

Bircher Muesli: Coconut and cinnamon infused muesli, poached pear compote, toasted nuts

Wondering in error how one solid (oats) could be physically be infused with another (coconut), I eagerly received this dish as an answer:

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The pear is arranged like Parliament! Sort of – they probably realised that they couldn’t get away with only having four slices of pear as a garnish. And by probably realised, I mean that I have concocted that story about this muesli with a tourist’s excitement. The first mouthful of this dish revealed a deliciously tart puree that tasted more like passionfruit than pear, but I’m not picky as it was excellent. The cinnamon was generously present here, complimenting the stately, crisp pear perfectly and giving the plump, moist oats a comfort kick. The crunchy toasted almonds and coconut contrasted nicely with the oats and chewy sultanas strewn throughout this dish. This is a powerful breakfast, one that could win elections, pass bills and do other confident political acts. Basically, I enjoyed this muesli so much that I would let it brainwash me – how dangerously alluring and absurd!

Final word: The Elk and Pea have defied all expectations and delivered one of the best muesli that I have eaten so far. For those that live in Canberra, make a booking (weird) and demand this dish. For those in Melbourne, don’t drive up to Canberra, fly, then brave your disdain for all places ‘other’ and just order the muesli.

Good Muesli, Canberra!

-MM

The Elk & Pea 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:

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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!

MM

Little Henri on Urbanspoon