123 Hardware St, Melbourne (map)
Hmm, I think Beetroot falls just outside the "very quick easy distance" radius from the office to qualify as part of my "King / Bourke" quest. Nevertheless, I'm here to report on some of the goodies they're serving up at the moment from their treasure trove of a display cabinet.
I went to Beetroot a few weeks ago to meet my Dad for lunch. Beetroot is north of Lonsdale St, where Hardware Lane becomes Hardware Street. Having foolishly stopped for a quick browse of the new release albums in the excellent Discurio a few doors down, I arrived a few minutes late and found Dad waiting for a table in the packed cafe.
I've read and heard very good things about Beetroot's fabulous-looking breakfast menu, and am determined to get down there early sometime soon. For lunch, we made our choices from the aforementioned display cabinet: I chose the eggplant bake, and Dad chose the stuffed capsicum, washed down by glasses of pinot noir - so nice for a cafe-looking place such as this to have a half-decent wine list!
This eggplant bake was brilliant! It was a variant on cannelloni in that there were rolls filled with spinach and ricotta, but instead of pasta the rolls were made of eggplant. The tomato-based sauce was lovely and rich, and the filling was studded with all sorts of juicy little nuggets like currants and pine nuts.
Dad's stuffed capsicum was also "a cut above", to use his words. It was made interesting by tiny bits of chopped chorizo in addition to the usual meatloaf-like filling. Both dishes, as you can see, also came with a nice bit of salad on the side.
But what really made this gastronome's day was the hot chocolate. At Beetroot it comes in either white, milk or dark chocolate, and they use proper rich chocolate at the bottom of the glass and hot frothed milk over the top so you can mix it all together or, if you're like me, try to scoop up as much of the melting milk chocolate as possible with your tall spoon. A friendly little chocolate freckle on the side of the plate is a cute touch, but the piece de resistance is the marvellously over-the-top wisp of Persian fairy floss that perches on top. Pretentious? Yes. Did I love it? Most definitely!