Sunday 10 February 2008

King / Bourke Quest Part 11: Base Kamp Cafe

Base Kamp Café
390 Little Bourke St, Melbourne (map)
9670 3569

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.

Basekamp window

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...

Basekamp counter

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).

Chilean empanada

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.

Spanish omelette

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... :)

Basekamp tasting platter

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... :)

Basekamp wall


Anonymous said...

Very nice lunchfare mutemonkey! Wish i was still living in melbourne to try all these new places you keep finding! I have a feeling that we'll be reading up about this place in the epicure in a few weeks time. Did you notice this week's review of seamstress? A week or so ago it was red spice road - all places you blogged about first!

Anonymous said...

What a great find! Thank you for this one. Good cheap food is always a student's friend. I hope you are not working too hard and maybe free for a coffee soon? Tax has killed RIPPED my soul right out of me! x

claire said...

Serenity: bwah ha ha! Yes, Epicure is totally marching to the beat of my drum... I should be charging them a finder's fee, eh? :)
Found any nice food up in the 'Berra recently?

Minh: hey there pretty lady! Long time no see. I feel your pain, I'm trying in vain to understand a case about the tax implications of the forgiveness of an inter-company debt that zzzzzzzzzzzzz. How about coffee early next week? xx

Anonymous said... I get to be jealous of all the yummy places down your neck of the woods :-)

Mmm, I love a good empanada!

claire said...

Bwah ha ha ha mellie, it's about time the tables were turned! :)

It's not too far from Beetroot, that other West Side favourite of yours... keep it in mind if you find yourself down this way one lunchtime...

Anonymous said...

Que bueno! The Empanada with Pebre is delicious, I've had a few empanadas in my time but this one was great! I think I'll be back to try the rest of the menu in future!

Roity said...

BTW Base Kamp Cafe closed over a year ago and is long gone :(