302 Barkers Rd, Hawthorn (map)
On Sunday had brunch at Replete Providore with D, an old friend I was meeting up with for the first time in six years. I'd forgotten to book, which is nearly fatal at Replete on the weekend - we had to wait for a good twenty minutes (outside in the wind because the interior is so tiny), but at least that gave us time to start swapping stories. Once we were seated, D ordered a FSOJ and the much-touted Ricotta Hotcakes. I went for the interesting-sounding smoothie of the day (coconut, strawberry and rhubarb) and the Bagna Cauda eggs.
I'm not a huge smoothie fan but it sounded like an interesting trans-seasonal concoction: I was curious to see how the summery coconut and strawberry would mix with the more wintery rhubarb. The smoothie itself was pretty nice - the rhubarb was subtle and kept the smoothie from being a tropical overload - but the slivers of shaved coconut inevitably clumped together at the bottom of the glass. D reported his orange juice as fresh and delicious (oranges coming back in season, hooray!) - bonus points for the cute little bottle it came in.
Now to the food: a lot has been written about Replete's ricotta hotcakes with lemon curd and strawberries since they won the 2005 Age Cheap Eats Guide breakfast dish of the year. But damn, they're good! They're not undercooked but still wonderfully light and fluffy in the mouth, and the tartness of the lemon curd offsets the sweet strawberries and sauce beautifully.
The Bagna Cauda eggs are (almost literally) a different kettle of fish altogether: roasted capsicum and olive stew with poached eggs on toasted Turkish pide, topped with a creamy anchovy and parsley sauce. This dish is not for the faint-hearted breakfaster! Luckily I felt up to the challenge, and it was indeed worth it: the poached eggs were nicely runny the way I like 'em, and the capsicum neutralised the saltiness of the other ingredients. Although the photo may make the dish look a little fearsome before midday, the anchovy in the sauce wasn't too overpowering! And after the hassle of getting a table in the first place, the staff were very relaxed about letting us stay there chatting for over two and a half hours: when they finally needed the table we were sitting at for a lunch reservation, they ushered us to the front bench as nicely as possible and said there was no rush in having to pay. We appreciated this greatly, seeing as we still had so much catching up to do!