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!