While hearty breakfasts and brunches are thought of as a weekend indulgence, there are times when you need some solid sustenance to fuel you on a weekday as well. Fortunately, there are a number of places that offer this in the Melbourne CBD, which meant that there were a few options to choose from when it came to being able to maximise the sampling of Melbourne’s culinary goodness. Brick Lane had the triumvirate of reviewing well, having a tempting menu, and being close to where I had to be.
Located on the industrial-looking Guildford Lane, you may be temporarily deceived by the sign on the outside of the red brick building declaring that it is Grange Printing and Office Supplies. A glance through the windows as you go past though, and the less obvious sign above the door, will tell you that it not, in fact, a stationery store, but the eatery, Brick Lane. (Confusingly, it used to be called Rustica, and there used to be another unrelated place called Brick Lane in another suburb that has since closed.)
There was a sign at the entrance indicating that one had to wait to be seated. It didn’t take took long to catch the attention of the staff behind the service counter, who came around to show me to a seat, and brought a bottle of water, a glass, and a menu to the table.
Despite it being about half past seven on a weekday morning, the cafe was half to three-quarters full, muted murmurs from the recently-woken patrons progressively increasing in volume as the cafe filled with more awake people (possibly caffeine-assisted). Speakers played funk music at a volume just short of too loud, either to energise those starting their day this early, or the cafe staff.
It has a simple, modern setup in keeping with its industrial outside, with concrete floors and high ceilings, rendered and raw brick walls painted white. “We got what you knead”, neon writing cheekily puns in bright pink on one wall. There are light wood topped tables and wood-seated chairs in configurations that will fit a couple of people per table, and a taller communal table at one end of the space, near the kitchen. From the bar-height table, where I was seated, you could watch food being assembled at the pass, which gave a little assistance to decision-making.
I began with a soy iced latte, in a takeaway cup by request, so that it could be stretched out over and after breakfast. It was nicely cold. It had a higher and slightly astringent note, but also had pleasant roasted, nutty base notes.
It took a while between placing the coffee order (and the coffee arriving) and being able to catch someone’s attention to place the food order. The menu has all day breakfast and brunch options, and sandwiches and salads that are available only after 11am. The sandwiches feature their breads of course, Brick Lane being part of the Rustica bakery conglomerate. While there were a number of promising items available on the menu even at that early morning time, the Savoury waffle dish immediately caught my eye. Corn and chilli waffles, smashed avocado, house tomato relish, poached eggs, endive and micro herb salad. The only thing that could make that better would have been the inclusion of bacon. But that would have been greedy.
The dish arrived prettily presented, the tomato relish in dramatic swooshes surrounding and accentuating the other components of the dish. The stacking of the greens and poached eggs on the waffles, then the crumb sprinkled over it all gave it a look of controlled, quite artistic chaos. When it came to the actual eating, the chilli corn waffles were soft, with no crunchy edges. They were dense, but not stodgy. There were whole sweet corn kernals in it, which popped as you bit into them. The waffles also had a bit of heat, as promised, but a pleasant warmth rather than being overpowering. The poached eggs sat over the edge of the waffles, like a water balloons, tense and expectant, ready to pop. They, of course, had runny yolks when cut into. There was a good portion of the avocado smash, which was smooth, slightly tangy, and had a faintly banana flavour. That tomato relish was a balance of sweet and sour, and had a heat to it as well that gradually developed on the palate. The golden crumb over the top of the dish had a sweet, Nestum-like flavour. Despite its appearance though, it wasn’t really crunchy. The components of the dish all went together well. There was good flavour variance, from savoury to sweet, and little punches of heat. Although parts of the dish I had anticipated some crunch from were not crunchy, the sweet corn kernals replaced some of that texture when bitten. It was a good serving size, with the two palm-sized waffles and two eggs, so that you certainly didn’t leave hungry, but also weren’t food-coma full.
Brick Lane delivered good food and good coffee, and camouflaged in a laneway, surely is a good representation of your stereotypical Melbourne cafe destination. Worth finding.
Price point: Breakfast/brunch items $15 to $19 for more than muesli. Sandwiches and salads $13.50 to $16.50.
Value: Pretty standard.
Address: 33 Guildford Lane, Melbourne CBD
Phone: 03 9642 2203