Wednesday, 26 March 2008

King / Bourke Quest Part 16: SMXL and Bambini Barrista

This installment in the search for decent food in close proximity to the corner of King Street and Bourke Street in the CBD (my King/Bourke Quest) is a double feature of the two cafes I visit most regularly, SMXL and Bambini Barrista.

542 Little Bourke St, Melbourne (map)
9642 8611

Freshly baked m'oaves

Freshly baked m'oaves.... mmmmmm....

J and I get our morning coffees just about every morning at SMXL (pronunciation of the cafe name varies: many spell it out "ess em ex ell", but we prefer to pronounce it "SMICK-sel" (except for DJ, who prefers to call it "SMACK-sel")). We've become friendly with Justin, Craig, Sylvia and the other staff who work there, and love being regulars who are known by name.


As well as this branch in Little Bourke Street, there's another SMXL located behind the Rialto. The SMXL menus have an emphasis on good quality organic ingredients (which probably helped them win the Herald Sun CityStyle "Best Sandwich Joint" award), and use Baker D. Chirico bread because: a) it's excellent bread, and b) as one staff member cheekily put it, "their boss is sleeping with our boss" (ie they're partners). :)

M'oaves on offer at SMXL

My favourite snack on the menu are the m'oaves. What are m'oaves, I hear you ask? Well, you take muffins and combine them with loaves and you get m'oaves... loaf-shaped muffins. Every morning there's one savoury and two sweet varieties to choose from. Combinations include: raspberry and white chocolate, duo choc, fig and chocolate, pear and almond, orange and poppyseed, caramelised onion and fetta, pesto pinenut and cheese, sundried tomato and olive, etc. Getting a m'oave and a coffee costs $5.50 and makes a perfect naughty little breakfast or morning tea.

White choc and berry m'oave

This is a white chocolate and berry m'oave I brought back to my desk. J and I recently had the brainwave of asking for the m'oave to be lightly toasted, so that the chocolate just starts to go melty... GENIUS!

SMXL jaffle

Another great breakfast option at SMXL are the Jaffles for $6.50 - pictured here is my favourite, creamed corn and bacon, but they also do Eggs Benedict, home-made baked beans, or ham tomato and basil.

Moroccan lamb, caramelised onion, mint youghurt turkish bread at SMXL

They also do a wide range of salads and sandwiches at lunchtime. This is my favourite of their Turkish breads, containing Moroccan spiced lamb, mint yoghurt, caramelised onion and eggplant ($8.90).

Bambini Barrista
Shop 7, rear 530 Little Collins St, Melbourne (map)
9614 0023

I'll freely admit that of these two cafes, SMXL is my clear favourite... but when I'm meeting Schatzi I go to Bambini Barrista, because it's equidistant from our two offices. L also prefers BB to SMXL, mainly because at BB there's an open-air-yet-undercover seating area where he can smoke a cigarette in peace... :)

Bambini barrista

Tucked away at the back of a miniature food court on Little Collins Street near King Street, the BB ambiance is much less cosy and the barristas are somewhat brusque, but the coffee is good and so is the cheese and spinach borek - a hot steal at $2 per single and $3.50 per double portion!

Bambini barrista borek


Anonymous said...

I just got a coffee...and am sitting reading about M'oaves. I NEED ONE!
Morning Tea here I come.....

Johanna GGG said...

love your 'm'oaves' - I have always wondered what to call those funny little loaves!

Many years ago I worked on that corner and found it quite a challenge to find good places to eat - I can remember a few places but can't remember names or I would share these with you!

Anonymous said...

bambini barrista was much better off with the old owners Levi and Oz.Gian and his brother plus the staff have no idea what they are doing. Oz and Levi, we miss your coffee!