Kitty Burns was another place firmly on the planned Melbourne brunch list after seeing many pretty food photos from it. We caught a tram out of the CBD on a typically overcast Melbourne winter’s day, and managed to get off a couple of stops too soon. With the threat of looming rainclouds, we quickstepped it to Google Maps’ directions, and found ourselves outside some very futuristic-looking apartment buildings. There were directional signs that indicated there were amenities and restaurants further on, so we headed into the heart of the blocks.
At the bottom of the stairs that flowed down the slope, we saw a whiteboard and a little white house-shaped sign that said “Kitty Burns”. Beyond that were people seated and brunching. We had arrived.
Its appearance was quite the opposite of what I had expected. I had seen pictures of the food, but not of the place. The name sounded like it was out of the flapper era, and I thought the restaurant would be done up accordingly in glitzy art deco style. Instead, we came to a place that looked like it was built as a conservatory, with almost floor to ceiling glass along two of its sides so that natural light streamed in. (Their website, by the way, describes the origin of the name. Link further down.)
It definitely has the scandinavian aesthetic that is currently in vogue. As you come to the entrance of the restaurant, you can appreciate the high ceiling inside, effectively another storey in height. This gives a sense of wide open space. The gable roof motif that shapes the sign is repeated through the interior, with corrugated cutouts forming the silhouette against artificial greenery on the walls, and more three-dimensional house-shaped structures defining the central service area and booth seating. These are done mostly in outline, so that the feeling of openness is retained.
The colour palatte is light wood, turquoise, and white on the tiles, tabletops, and chairs. Copper light fittings hang down from the ceiling. Wood is otherwise the main material used for the furnishing and decor. It is all light and restrained, without being clinical.
Indoor seating is wooden seats at wooden tables, with most tables set up to seat two to four (if joined up). There are also the aforementioned booth seats on the side, which fit about six, set up to look like you’re in a little hut or cubby house. There is some outdoor seating as well, with metal wire chairs in the same colour theme.
There was music with a dance beat playing when we were there, and it was just a touch too loud and insistently present. It was quite out of keeping with the setting, which would otherwise have made it quite a relaxing place to be.
There was about a fifteen to twenty minute wait for a table when we got there, a little past standard weekend peak brunch time. They don’t take reservations for weekends, so be prepared to loiter for a bit. They do have a coffee cart out front, with some pastries for sale there as well, for the people who are famished and need some sustanence immediately. Kettle Black cleverly has a similar setup to defuse any potential situations from the hangry.
The timing with the wait actually worked out fine, as others in our party had trouble finding the place, and then finding parking, so were delayed in arriving.
We were seated at a table, and water was soon brought out. The tables were already set with menus and cutlery. While waiting for the rest of the group, we started with coffees.
The iced coffee was prettily presented, with a tall glass of milk and a scoop of ice cream, and a shot of espresso on the side for you to add in when ready. It was thought to be rather nice.
The flat white was alright, but not really a standout for Melbourne.
The mocha was also alright, but somewhat on the bitter side.
We read through the menu a few times, and eventually made our selections with the internet for assistance. (Looking at pictures of the food on Instagram and Facebook beats walking around the restaurant trying to see what other people have ordered.)
Between us, we ordered the omelette “Arnold Bennett” slow poached smoked rockling, the KB, the Meet Mr Burns, and the French toast.
The Omelette “Arnold Bennett” slow poached smoked rockling came with clove and bay bechamel, and toast. The omelette Arnold Bennett is a dish that originated from the Savoy, consisting of a fluffy omelette with smoked haddock, topped with bechamel and/or hollandaise. Haddock being hard to get in Australia, rockling is a sensible substitute. The poached rockling pieces were slightly smoky and tender, and folded into the approprately fluffy omelette. The bechamel sauce over it was like an airy blanket, hiding what was beneath from the world, and because it was aerated, wasn’t too heavy or creamy. It didn’t perceptibly taste of cloves or bay leaves though.The toast..was toast. It was a quite a light dish in texture and flavour.
The KB was a brioche bun with shaved pork belly, green mango and papaya slaw, kimchi mayonnaise, house made pickles, and kimchi. It came quite strikingly plated, a sprawl of ingredients across the plate, sandwiched by an almost cherry-red bun. The bun was soft and fluffy. The pork belly pieces were tender, There were bean sprouts in it as well that gave it a little crunch. There were also curls of pork crackling on the side that we ate separately rather than trying to fit them into the bun. There was a bit of spice from the kimchi, but there just wasn’t enough kimchi. There wasn’t any punchiness from the slaw. Despite its fiery appearance, it had mild, subdued flavours, which was disappointing.
The Meet Mr Burns had dry cured bacon slab, spiced bon bons, bacon jam, clonakilty black pudding, 63 degree eggs, mushroom, spinach, relish, and toast. We had seen the dish go out to another table while we were waiting, and had not been entirely convinced about ordering it. When plated up, while presented quite chefily, it was pretty much those ingredients, as listed, on the plate. (The toast was on a separate plate.) There wasn’t much to actually tie them all together as a cohesive dish. The friend who ordered it wasn’t particularly blown away on eating it either.
The French toast had coffee ganache, compressed peaches, whipped maple syrup, and quince. It was prettily presented, with flowers and berries adding extra punches of colour. The friend who had it thought it was nice..but again not spectacularly better than anywhere else.
Because there were lots of pretty treats lined up at the counter, and we hadn’t had any at White Mojo, we picked a cruffin and a filled doughnut to share. By the time we were finished with our meals, there weren’t that many options left. We had a Peanut butter and jelly cruffin, and the Nutella-filled Tick Tock doughnut.
The cruffin (for those who haven’t kept up with mutant food trends, it’s a muffin with croissant-like buttery layers, apparantly first dreamed up at Lune Croissanterie – another stop we made, tantalising post to follow) was pretty good, flaky on the outside, soft tearable layers further in, and filled at the core with smooth peanut butter that was a good blend of sweet and savoury, more the former than the latter. There were little cubes of berry-flavoured jelly to represent the jam.
The Tick Tock doughnut was called that because of the iced clock face cookie on top of it. Really though, it was just a garnish for the little round doughnut, which in turn was a delivery vehicle for Nutella. Note, however, that the pastries are from Bistro Morgan rather than made in-house, so they can’t really take credit for them.
The waitstaff were friendly and efficient. There was a designated front of house person who took details of people waiting, and they were as prompt as they could be when it came to finding us a table. They came by and checked a few times to find out if we wanted to place drink or food orders while we were waiting for others in our party to arrive, but never seemed pushy.
Overall, Kitty Burns is a very pretty place to meet to eat. The food looks pretty as well, but could be tastier. We wanted more.. It has potential to be better, but currently, like a few other places (Operator 25 on our previous trip), promises more than it delivers.
Price point: $16.50 to $23 for the dishes we ordered.
Address: 24 Acacia Place, Abbotsford
Phone: 03 9427 0164
Website: Kitty Burns