542 Little Bourke St, Melbourne (map)
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). :)
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.
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!
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.
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).
Shop 7, rear 530 Little Collins St, Melbourne (map)
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... :)
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!