390 Little Bourke St, Melbourne (map)
***UPDATE 14/12/08: REVIEW FOR ARCHIVE PURPOSES ONLY
Alas, Base Kamp has been taken over by new owners, and the new product is missing everything that made the original so special. Gone is the marked South American accent - instead it's rather average Western and Asian vegetarian lunch fare, such that this review is no longer a good indication of what you can expect. If anyone cares to report with an update, please let me know!***
High time for another King / Bourke Quest installment! My quest is to find decent lunchtime fare within an easy walking distance from the corner of King St and Bourke St (the culinary wasteland where my office is located) - the aim is to be able to walk to a venue, eat, then walk back within an hour. You can read other installments in the King / Bourke Quest here.
In all cultures in times past and present, hunters and gatherers, travellers, tribes and town-folk have always counted on a "Base Kamp" as a place to eat nutritious food, shelter from the environment, learn skills & share stories. Our Café is a little café in a big city. Please feel welcome to indulge in fresh food, take shelter and share stories @ Base Kamp Café, a friendly place to come back to.
I couldn't have put it better myself! Base Kamp (not to be confused with The Base Camp, a Nepalese restaurant near Glenferrie station) is my new favourite little secret cafe to lunch in. Wedged between Flight Centre and the shoe repair guy on Little Bourke St near Hardware Lane, it's one of the few city cafes that I really feel at home in. Al, the personable fella that runs the place, genuinely cares about and takes care of all of his customers - such a refreshing change to the usual harried CBD treatment. Just like in the good old student days, Base Kamp makes me want to curl up in the corner with a book and a coffee and while away the afternoon, forgetting about the outside world and the fact that I now have a grown-up job...
Base Kamp is open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week (catering available). The breakfast menu has a few hot items and the lunch menu consists of sandwiches, soup and salad plus a few other little gems you see in this post (Al has embraced his Chilean roots and given the menu a nifty South American twist).
The Chilean Empanadas ($7.50) come with salad and Base Kamp Pébre (a Chilean condiment made of chopped coriander, onion, tomato, olive oil, garlic and ají chillies). The empanadas contain beef, onion, hint of garlic, cumin, a few sultanas, olives and a bit of hard boiled egg, and taste delicious with the pébre.
When I went there with C, she had the Spanish Omelette ($8.50), which can feature either spinach or chorizo and is served with salad and warm bread from Dench Bakers in North Fitzroy. I just love the cute mini chopping boards that the food is served on... :)
But the Base Kamp menu item that really knocked my socks off last week was the Base Kamp Platter. WOW. Starting with the cheeses and working anti-clockwise, we have tasty cheese, Swiss cheese, Machengo cheese with quince paste, shaved ham, jamón, chorizo, olives, croutons, tomato salad and other marinated veggies, pébre and a little taste of the soup of the day (in this case sweet potato)... served with three pieces of Dench bread and all for the princely sum of $10!
To finish off, the hot chocolate (coco deluxe), South-Americanised with cinnamon, is guaranteed to make you one happy kamper... :)