We meant to go to Brunswick’s The Mirror, but found ourselves at Mokum – which didn’t officially exist yet. How did that transmogrification happen? Well, The Mirror seemed to review well, with interesting brunch options, so we headed there on a weekend morning..and discovered that it was in the process of changing into Mokum, a Dutch cafe and bar.
How in the process? Well, the sign outside still said it was The Mirror, and the business cards at the counter still said The Mirror, but the menu said it was Mokum, and the menu items did very much have Dutch leanings, helpfully alongside explanations and pronounciations.
If you are also wondering about the origin of the name, it turns out that Mokum means “place”, and is also what some people call Amsterdam. See a bit more history here.
Dutch cuisine doesn’t seem to be very commonly found in Melbourne (apart from poffertjes), so this will be something new for the dining scene when it properly opens. The menu was divided into sections of Breakfast, Nibbles, Fries, and Bigger dishes.The Nibbles section, in particular, had an assortment of Dutch snacks and items that you probably wouldn’t have encountered elsewhere, like rolmops and bitterballen.
The space itself is quite nicely set up in a not too thematic, warm style. Raw red bricks feature both at the service counter and on a far wall. There is geometric wood paneling above the main seating section, and warm LED lights with patterned filaments descend from it. There are little decorative accents, like wooden Dutch clogs on a far table, and travel books about Amsterdam and the Netherlands on a shelf.
Just beyond this is another smaller seating area, with a long communal table, white walls, and a high ceiling. It has quite a different feel from the main seating area, but is still cosy.
We had had matcha lattes just prior, so had just the one drink, the Banana Speculaas smoothie. This sounded like an interesting combination, with Speculaas, banana, and oat milk. Perhaps as should have been expected, it tasted predominantly of banana. We could see the Speculaas pieces mixed in, and the flavour was there in the finish, if not at the forefront. It was close to room temperature rather than cold enough though, and we ended up getting ice cubes added later.
Magic Mushrooms. Listed in the menu as mushroom medley, mushroom croquettes, asparagus, truffled vegan mayo, and crispy kale. There was the option to add a poached egg for $4, which we didn’t take up. This had also been on the menu for The Mirror, and people seemed to like the dish in reviews, and mushroom croquettes always sound like a good idea. The dish was presented with the cooked mushrooms, asparagus, crispy kale, and more greens in the middle and main body of the plate, and three spherical croquettes at the sides, anchored with the mayo. The mushrooms were cooked down and tender. The asparagus was sliced into pieces, rather than served as whole stalks, and also cooked down, but not mushy. The mushroom croquettes were definitely the star of the dish, even though they were off to the side. They were crunchy on the outside, and the inside had small pieces of mushroom, not mince, melded together. There wasn’t really perceptible truffle aroma from the mayo. As it turns out, you can get just the croquettes as nibbles – see Bitterballen in that section.
Turkse Eieren. Listed in the menu as poached eggs, artichoke tapenade, dill yoghurt, coriander pesto, dukkah, and Turkish bread. It too was quite a green dish. It was a tasty combination, with the pesto, tapenade, and dukkah together. We added some salt though, as it needed a touch more seasoning. The poached eggs had nicely runny yolks.
Kapsalon. It read as next level loaded fries, or a modified HSP – fries topped with chicken shoarma, melted gouda, garlic sauce, and iceberg lettuce. An extra detail in the menu stated that the name translates to hairdressers, and that it named after a hairdresser in Rotterdam who first ordered it. It was indeed a hearty bowl, with the mound of thick cut fries blanketed with melted cheese and hashed with garlic sauce. The fries were piping hot and well seasoned. The gouda added depth and tang – though our advice would be to eat it before the cheese cools and solidifies. The chicken pieces were overcooked and dry though, and were the flaw in an otherwise moreish dish.
Mokum has promise. The staff were welcoming and friendly, and it was evident that they were liked by the local community. The cuisine they offer sets them apart from other eateries, and their baked goods were certainly popular with other diners. It is worth a visit when they are properly opened and have settled in.
Price point: The dishes we had: $15 to $23.
Address: 359 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Phone: 0421 147 424