St Rose, Essendon

19 Rose Street, Essendon | 9331 4488
We went: Sat May 10 2014 | Verdict: 20 / 25

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 Mon-Fri 7am-4.30pm, Sat-Sun 8am-3pm
http://www.strose.com.au/

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In a nutshell: fresh-faced and health conscious, this hip brunch café is the star in an Essendon neighbourhood lacking quality cafes.

Food: The menu appears safe … on the surface. Look a little deeper and you’ll see there is attention to detail and an acute awareness of their target clientele. Essendon’s current population is a mix of the fitness-conscious, middle class, family-dominated social set. The menu reflects this.

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On the one hand, there is Paleo Granola, House made bircher and Chai infused organic porridge, dishes Ascot Vale Leisure Centre regulars would happily devour after a morning pilates workout. At the other end of the spectrum, there are hangover deluxes for those who around midday have summoned the courage to draw the curtains (sadly, this is the current state of MBS folk). The St Rose (their take on the Big Brekky), Breakfast Quesadillas, Avocado toast, Brekkie Burger and Baked Chilli Eggs sit on the brekky end of brunch, while lunchy choices include a Beef Burger, Chicken Schnitzel Wrap and Tempura Soft Shell Crab Burger.

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We had the Baked Chilli Eggs, Quesadillas and Brekky Burger. Tbe Baked Chilli Eggs were honest, brunch fare and the perfect savoury combination of napoli sauce, persian fetta, eggs and dukkah. Delicious! The Brekky Burger looked amazing on paper and delivered (to an extent). “I liked the guilty pleasure of it… the sauce dripped out, the cheese had melted into the egg and the bacon. I liked that part of it,” said the wife who left but a morsel for me, despite the bun’s sweetness. Lastly, the Quesadillas were as pretty as a picture: three fried eggs perched atop the corn tortillas. While tasty, the tortillas were a little tricky to manipulate. The salsa and avocado were nice. 3.5/5

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Coffee: the problem with simple, which is what I think St Rose is going for (judging by their menu and fresh feel) is some things just aren’t simple. Like coffee. Coffee, deservingly, is treated in Melbourne as a complex and interesting pleasure to be savoured and enjoyed, not dissimilar to a wine, craft beer or a glass of single malt. Yet St Rose, while offering pour-over filter single origin perhaps don’t fully do it justice by advertising it as merely “Filter” on its menu. I think the discerning coffee drinker is looking for more. I could be wrong. Some tasting notes, more info about the coffee’s origin, perhaps? I asked the waitress about the coffee, its origin, the blend. She wasn’t able to tell me but wasted no time finding this out. She returned with hand-written notes: Veneziano, which is a blend of beans from Kenya, Brazil and Eithiopia. The single origin was from Kenya. I had the filter, which was very smooth and very good value given the quantity (see below).

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There’s a quirky little offering on the drinks menu called Nutino that’s a shot of espresso with a side of Nutella. Good in theory, not so good in reality was the verdict from my friend who ordered it as the Nutella arrived in a small sachet and was a tad hard to extract. Other members of our party ordered a cappuccino soy latte, and regular latte. No complaints. 3.5/5

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Vibe: when couple Domenic and Diana Caruso sold their Richmond venture, Espresso 3121, they engaged an interior design consultant to help fulfill the vision of their next project. The result is St Rose, which the designer describes on her website is “based on the ethos of bringing the café culture of inner suburbs to the heart of Essendon”.

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I guess that’s what lured us here (a second time). There’s an aura about the place – from the white ST ROSE sign out the front, the white tiles with No. 19 on the doorstep, the large glass shopfront, well-lit interior, polished floorboard finish and touch of greenery. They certainly meet their brief.

Inside was chockers so we settled for a share table on the footpath. If the purpose of brunch is to chill with friends while doing The Age quiz and indulging in good food and coffee then it ticked all those boxes. I wasn’t too keen on a full ashtray awaiting us when we sat down, though. 4/5

Service: staff are friendly and warm, if a little ‘absent’ at times. What I mean is the people next to us finished, paid and left and their bits and pieces weren’t cleared till at least 20 minutes after. Yes, they were busy but they had plenty of staff on. The test of a good brunch place is how well they handle chaos. 4/5

Money: $96 for five of us. Great value. 5/5

St Rose on Urbanspoon

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Karulo Cafe, Moonee Ponds

Cnr Darling St and Athol St, Moonee Ponds

P: 03 9326 2212

In a nutshell: Tucked away in a backstreet of Moonee Ponds, this converted milk bar is buzzing on most weekends, catering to people of all ages. The recently updated menu and their enthusiasm for coffee make this a brunch gem of the west.

We ate:

–       Omelette
–       Baked eggs

Coffee: Filtered coffee (La Linda, Columbia) and soy latte (Bathyspere blend, Thornbury)

Food: I love a twist on an old fave and Karulo’s interpretation of the Baked Eggs is exactly that. Rich and generous amounts of prosciutto line the small hot pan and a small amount of napoli sauce cushions the eggs. Basil is an interesting addition – something you don’t often see in baked eggs – but it works, contributing a freshness and a visual element. A sprinkling of dukkah on top is smart; I initially thought it to be pesto but alas. For cheese, they’ve gone for haloumi, which I usually adore. Unfortunately prosciutto plus haloumi, in this case, equalled a salt overload and had us reaching for water to quench our thirst. The crunchy ciabatta toast and butter was a great accompaniment, however we could have done with one or two more bits.

baked eggs

The omelette (wild mushroom and goat’s cheese) was subtle in comparison and a welcome relief once my wife and I swapped dishes. Less salty, the mushroom and goat’s cheese work a treat in tandem and the side of relish tops it off beautifully.

Coffee: Bathysphere blend from Thornbury-based roasters, Wide Open Road, is their house blend. Coffee is alternated regularly with guest roasters. I had the filtered coffee, which was La Linda from Columbia. Rich in colour with a pleasant, subtle nose, this coffee boasts deep fruity notes of strawberry and grape acidity not uncommon for beans of that altitude. Wife was suitably impressed with coffee art applied to soy latte – no mean feat on soy!

soy flat filter coffee

Price:  $37 (two pax).

Ambience: There are tables as you walk in, in the ‘milk bar’ section. They’ve done a great reno here but I would have liked to see them retain some of that rustic milk bar feel (if it wasn’t for the old ‘Herald Sun’ signs out the front, you wouldn’t know it was an old milk bar. We sat out the back were there are a number of tables. Was comfortable and atmosphere was buzzing once the crowd built.

Kid friendly: not a lot for kids to do but there were plenty of children about and all seemed happy and provided for. There are a number of options on the menu that are targeted specifically for children.

Service: waitress (who we presume was owner) who served us was great. Provided explanations of why items weren’t available with the reason usually related to them making more from scratch – they do care about quality here, which is good to see. They didn’t have single origin coffee because they were still roasting the beans… you can’t criticise that.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Karulo Cafe on Urbanspoon