St Charly is a newish eatery that opened on Lygon Street earlier this year. It has quite a different vibe from the other long-standing residents on the strip, many pizza, pasta, and modern European restaurants, with a more classical bent. Peering in as you go past, what it feels like..is generational change. All the modern styling is there, from the open layout and cage pendant lights in geometric shapes, to greenery hanging from the ceilings.
We were greeted as we stepped through the entrance, and were shown to an available table near the floor to ceiling glass windows facing the walkway between buildings. The daylight coming through this brightened the space, without being glaring. Menus and water were brought to the table, and we were given time to peruse.
While waiting for others of our party to arrive, we took in the surroundings. It felt airy and relaxed, with the white walls and ceiling, and light speckled tiles on the floor. There was a mixture of seating, from the communal long wooden table and matching wooden stools near the entrance, to the light wood-topped tables and black wire frame chairs where we were seated, to another section with deep-green padded booth seats and candy pink tables, and yet another area with booth seats enclosed in hut-like structures, similar to Kitty Burns. Jazzy vocal music played in the background, adding to the chilled atmosphere. It certainly had a good weekend vibe.
Coffees were easier to decide on than food, so ordered first. The flat white had neatly done latte art, a good microtexture on the foam, and was richly flavoured.
The soy iced latte was served in its separate components of chilled soy milk and espresso, for patrons to put together. Perhaps the intent is for people to mix in the amount of espresso they want, but surely it would be a waste to leave coffee behind. Of course, we tipped it all in. It was good, but it was strong. Perhaps in future, a more measured hand would be in order..
Food was eventually decided upon. The St Charly Chicken Burger sounded so good that three people at the table ordered it. The other item had was the Potato and Caraway Rosti.
The St Charly Chicken Burger was listed as having Portuguese style marinated chicken tenderloin, Monterey Jack cheese, grilled pineapple, bacon, baby cos, sambal chilli aioli, and a side of french fries. The charcoal-black bun it was served on was a good contrast to both the plate and the fillings, and had a soft, light texture. The chicken pieces were there in more than a token amount. They were juicy and tasty, the spice flavours in the marinade carrying a little heat as well. The curls of bacon added another smoky note. The sweetness from the grilled pineapple was a contrast to those savoury flavours. The cheese was melted over the other ingredients, and nicely stretchy. The components went together well, and it was a tasty burger with a good range of flavours in it. The fries had a satisfying crunch to their exterior, and weren’t oily. One of our party asked to have the side of fries swapped to a salad, and it had vibrant colours, with cauliflower florets in bright pink and yellow.
The Potato and Caraway Rosti was listed as having smoked trout, crispy cavolo nero, poached eggs, hung yoghurt, fresh herbs, and caper hollandaise. One usually expects a rosti to be a roundish fritter of grated potato strips. It came presented instead as a brick, almost chocolate-brown on the outside. When one cut into it though, one found finely shredded potato packed in a good balance of compact and loose. That browned outside was seasoned and crunchy. As a reinterpretation of a rosti, it worked well. The trout pieces were actual pieces rather than thin slices, and were still tender. The smokiness was not overpowering. They were not kidding when they described the cavolo nero as crispy. The thin leaves had a brittle, wafer-like shatter, and provided a different type of crunch to the rosti. The poached eggs had runny yolks, as anticipated. The hollandaise was pleasantly creamy, and, with the yolks, tied the components of the dish together.
The waitstaff were helpful, and frequently came by to check if we needed anything, without being pushy or intrusive.
Overall, we enjoyed the meal and the time at St Charly, and can certainly vouch for it as a place for a chilled-out brunch with friends.
Setting: 1.5/2 (we would just add that the wire chairs would be more comfortable to sit on if they had cushions.)
Price point: $14.50 to $23.
Value: Alright, all in all. While not cheap, the food is done well.
Address: 306-308 Lygon St, Carlton
Phone: Unknown as yet.
Website: St Charly