Farm Cafe (Collingwood Children’s Farm), Abbotsford

St Heliers Street Abbotsford | 9415 6581
We went: Sat May 24 | Verdict: 16.5/25

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Open daily 9am-4pm
www.farmcafe.com.au/

In a nutshell: plenty of people rave about this rustic farmyard cafe and we wish we could too but, sadly, it was a letdown.

Food: I don’t mind a cold brekky though I prefer a hot one. What I absolutely detest is getting a cold brekky when it’s meant to be hot, or at least warm. I ordered the Goat’s Toast which is described as “creamy goat’s curd, house beetroot relish, avocado, a poached egg and herbs on toast”. For $4 you can add a side of bacon, which I did. Let’s begin with the temperature of the dish. It was cold. Ice cold, like it came out of the fridge cold. As someone else wrote on Urbanspoon, the beetroot relish is excessive and not really relish. I think it should be served as a smaller quantity and as a side rather than lumped on the toast, which was soggy and cold by the time it made it to our table. The poached egg and the bacon, which were meant to be hot, were not. And the avocado was kind of listlessly lumped on the side. The goat’s curd was nice but there probably wasn’t enough. The dish looked good, which probably makes this experience even more disappointing. For $21, this is one of Melbourne’s biggest brunch rip offs.

goat's curd toast

My wife ordered the Green Eggs (broccoli and almond pesto, spinach, quinoa, herbs, poached egg, parsley aioli and crispy fried onions) for $16.50. This was a healthy, tasty dish. The broccoli and pesto pesto was fresh, the aioli zesty and the crispy fried onions a nice touch. To be honest, I was relieved because after my Goat’s Toast debacle, I wanted to be able to say good things about this place.

green eggs

My friend had the Swiss Brown Mushrooms (polenta with oven roasted swiss brown mushrooms, goat’s curd, sauteed silverbeet and a poached egg). She was rapt with her meal and kept telling me how “mine was good. Don’t write bad things about them. Mine was good.” So there you go… two out of three dishes were good. Maybe it would be best to avoid the Goat’s Toast. 3/5

swiss brown mushrooms

Coffee: the coffee was OK. They serve 5 Senses, which is usually really nice coffee. But there were limited options. No filter. The mugs, which reminded me of camping in my youth, were a nice touch. 2.5/5

coffee

Vibe: nice farmyard feel that would be hard to replicate. A country vibe just a km or two from the CBD. 5/5

Ka-ching: $70 for three. Not great value. 3/5

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Service: staff are trying their best. Our coffee order got muddled up. They looked a bit under the pump. 3/5

Farm Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Three Bags Full, Abbotsford

56 Nicholson Street Abbotsford | 9421 2732
We went: Sat 17 May | Verdict: 23 / 25

ImageMon-Fri 7am-4.30pm, Sat-Sun 8am-4.30pm
http://www.threebagsfullcafe.com.au/

In a nutshell: slick operation in superb-an Melbourne brunch pocket. Queues out the door on weekends.

Food: the folks at Three Bags Full pride themselves on “keeping it simple”. Their recipe alchemy is all about imaginative dishes where the flavours of every ingredient complement each other beautifully.

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Our evidence: pulled pork shoulder brioche ($13), one of the specials – the Zucchini French Toast ($17) – and the Veggie Brekky ($19). I had the pork brioche. It seems I’m on a mission to try every pulled pork bun in Melbourne. This one is up there. Simple, creamy slaw complements the pork really well, and they give you a small side of pickles that you can add yourself. The lemon wedge was also a nice touch.

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The Zucchini French Toast was quite a heavy dish. The relish was “delicious”, the poached eggs “perfect” but overall, “the dish was just a bit much”. The Veggie Brekky was “a bit pedestrian”, said my mate. “It would have been nice to see them do something a bit special with it. I could have done that at home.” 3.5/5

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 Coffee: Not as many single origin options as neighbouring cafe Admiral Cheng Ho, but that doesn’t mean these guys don’t take it seriously. Quite the contrary. As you can see from the pictures below, my pour-over filter brew arrived on a wooden tray and in what looked like an medieval glass medicine container. Accompanying it was what I thought was a small glass of Jamison whisky with ice (never too early, especially before a bucks day!)… Alas, it was a palette cleanser. That’s right, the wank-o-metre just exploded. I needed to know what it was. “It’s called cascara,” our waiter said. “It’s the berry of the coffee that has been processed and we’ve infused it with sparkling water.”

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The coffee in the brown jar is a single origin from Ninety Plus Gesha Estates from Ethiopia. What makes it special is it has been ‘dry processed’ (sometimes called ‘natural’ coffee), meaning the beans were dried inside the fruit rather than after the fruit has been removed, as is the case with wet-processed or washed coffees. The taste, like most African single origins, was very fruity/citrus without being bitter. Very smooth. A nice drop. And extended tasting notes to boot. This bad boy meant to set me back a tenner, but I was only charged $8 (for some reason). 5/5

Vibe: Good vibe but it can get so busy that it’s hard to hear the person next to you. If you don’t like crowds or congestion, best avoid. 4.5/5

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Service: Service with a smile. Good coffee knowledge. Staff look like they want to be there and enjoy working there. 5/5

Ka-ching: $86 for the four of us, which included a $10 coffee and an extra chai. 5/5

Three Bags Full on Urbanspoon

Admiral Cheng-Ho, Abbotsford

325 Johnston Street Abbotsford | 9534 7250
We went: Sun 27th April 2014 | Verdict: 22 / 25

Mon to Fri 7:00 am – 4:00 pm | Sat to Sun 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
www.admiralchengho.com.au

 outside

In a nutshell: these guys care a lot about flavour combinations and coffee and do a mean vegan brunch. If finesse and skill are two of your brunch criteria then look no further.

We ate:

– The Admiral

– Umami mushrooms

Food: Those who know Balaclava’s Monk Bodhi Dharma won’t be surprised by Marwin Shaw’s latest venture Admiral Cheng-Ho. The food menu, while not extensive, is thoughtful and tasty. My brother is vegan, which makes ordering sometimes a bit tricky but to look at a menu and not have to alter the choices is a blessing. Nearly all the options here are either vegan, vego or gluten free.

My brother and I had The Admiral (zucchini fritters on sauteed kale with seasonal vegetables and tangy beetroot relish. It’s topped with basil cashew cream and wild fennel) which was admirable. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a bland dish (zucchini fritters) dressed up to sing so beautifully. All the flavour combinations of sweet (beetroot relish), sour (sauteed kale), savoury (fritters) and salty (cashew cream) just came together in harmony and worked their magic. By the end of this dish, I was scratching the plate to get all the relish off. Sorry about that!

fritters

The wife and friend J had the Umami mushrooms which was described by my wife as being “one of the best mushroom dishes I’ve ever had”. High praise, indeed. (She does need to get out more and we’re working on that). Usually mushrooms are overpowering but because they came with other strong elements like the goat’s cheese and pumpkin bread they all balanced each other out.

One thing to bear in mind when coming here is: THERE ARE NO EGGS! Shock horror, a brunch menu sans eggs. Get over it. This might be a difficult thing to overcome for some people. 4.5/5

mushrooms

Coffee: a “first” occurred for me at Admiral Cheng-Ho. I eat brunch out every week (read: wanker) and have been confronted by some expensive coffee in my time but never has the price been north of $10. Admiral Cheng-Ho, unashamedly, has coffee options that range from $4 for a basic flat white to $12 for a single-origin pour over filter from Panama. “We have the biggest range of single origin coffee in Melbourne,” the waiter says as I pay the bill. I could easily have chickened out and ordered a ‘safe’ latte however, “when in Rome”… So, I took the plunge and ordered the Panama Rojas Geisha. The tasting notes told me to expect “floral, delicate orange blossom and honeydew melon, lemon zest and a soft mouth feel”. It was certainly acidic and citrusy. It arrived in a stemless Reidel glass, the steam fogging up the inside and creating a coffee fog. The taste was complex and changed as it cooled. The aroma and taste told me from the outset it was to be sipped, not gulped. I was still going long after the others had finished their “regular” coffees. If you are tossing up about getting a “fancy” coffee, look at it this way: you go to a winery to try wine, a brewery to try beer, a restaurant to sample the talent of a chef. This place prides itself on coffee and a pour-over filter will best exemplify a bean’s true character. Worth $10? Umm, I know plenty of places that do it for less. 5/5

exxy coffee

 panama1

Vibe: this place is small, seating about 40 people at capacity. Like us, you may have to wait for a seat. To say this place is “cool” would be an understatement. Some may say it is pretentious with walls adorned with vintage clocks and tall vases on oak tables and coffee grinders lined up behind the counter like lolly dispensers at the show. But I like it. Scrap that, love it. Being from Ascot Vale, we seldom get across town to rub shoulders with our grungy cousins east of Brunswick Street. Lucky I had my moustache well groomed that day. 4/5

lights    clock

Price: $105 for four of us (meals and coffees). 4.5/5

Service: Because this place is so cramped, I feel as though the default setting for staff is a bit “on edge”. Could be me, though. after waiting outside for a table, we were politely ushered in and shown a table. Coffee orders were swiftly taken and nearly all of them were delivered pronto. (The chai that my wife ordered did not arrive until after the meals and needed a little prompting. No apology for the delay, either). I had a little chat to the waiter when paying the bill and she seemed nice. I guess one test of how good a place is is is how happy are the staff to work there? I’d say a 7/10 would sum up the feeling of most staff there from what I could see. 4/5

inside

Final word: love trying different types of coffee? Love vegan food done with love? Don’t mind a brunch menu with no eggs? Then look no further than Admiral Cheng-Ho.

Admiral Cheng-Ho on Urbanspoon