103-107 Errol Street, North Melbourne (map)
Open Tues - Sun, 7am (8am weekends) - 4pm
Disclaimer: One of the owners of Auction Rooms, Andrew Kelly, is an acquaintance of mine met through mutual friends. The fact that I know Andrew in no way influenced my conclusion that Auction Rooms is an awesome venue that everyone should frequent!
It was a dreary and overcast day and I was meeting G, new to Melbourne after moving from Adelaide, for lunch. Our venue of choice was Auction Rooms, a cafe which opened in North Melbourne just six weeks ago.
Frequenters of Errol Street may recognise the building (as the name suggests, for years it was an actual auction house). As you can see just from the facade, a lot of love and hard work has gone into transforming the site, starting with opening it up to allow tons of natural light in. Looking forward to visiting again on a dazzlingly sunny day... :)
An entire wall has been replaced by glass panes, which look out onto a little back courtyard with artfully distressed brickwork. I just love the light fittings and the high ceilings - despite the swooping proportions of the interior, it retains a very cosy and friendly atmosphere.
The sprinkles of Art Nouveau-like leadlighting throughout the place (see the strip along the front window) put me in mind of Six Degrees-designed Melbourne bars like Three Below and Public House... so I asked Andrew whether or not this leadlighting was Six Degrees' signature leadlighting - it was! :)
Andrew taking a quick break from manning the coffee machine (more gorgeous leadlighting visible in the background).
Andrew has worked in the coffee industry for years, so it's no surprise that the cafe will be doubling as a roastery! The coffee roaster gets its own write-up in the menu: In the coming weeks this beauty of a machine (a 1950s/60s 'burner into drum' model made in Bologna) will again be fired up after its journey down from Italy. Stay tuned for specialty coffee beans roasted sympathetically to origin and served to you fresh.
Okay, so being the design junkie that I am, I was already sold on the aesthetics front alone. But the food - THE FOOD!
In addition to the breakfasty-brunchy items on the menu, there are a couple of savoury dishes with a distinctly Japanese bent (miso, eggplant salad, Japanese beef stew). A few of the breakfast dishes have cute names that draw attention to the name of the place (Opening Bid, Counter Bid etc).
G and I shared two dishes. This is the Counter Bid, the vegetarian cooked breakfast ($13). Toasted (Dench Bakers) sourdough topped with blended beetroot and ricotta, baby spinach and poached organic free range eggs - finished with dukkah and marinated artichoke on the side. SO delicious - the eggs were still gloriously golden and gooey on the inside, and together with the beetroot and dukkah... inspired.
The other dish was the Chorizo Open Sanga ($13) - pan-fried chorizo with roasted red capsicum, mushroom paste and apple sauce on toasted sourdough with fresh rocket salad. Again, a really interesting combination of flavours - the earthy mushroom paste and chorizo were beautifully balanced by the slight tang/sweetness of the apple and capsicum. The vinaigrette on the rocket had a lovely subtle lemony flavour.
We then shared a slice of flourless orange cake and a brownie. The cake was the moistest orange cake I've ever tasted, and brownie was rich but light, if that makes any sense. The coffees were of course excellent, and it may interest you to know that a wide range of Larsen & Thompson teas are on offer.
I popped in to Auction Rooms again this morning, cos I wanted to show it to best-friend-K. At 11:45am the place was going gangbusters, with Manu Chao only faintly audible over the hubbub. B-f-K went for the Counter Bid, and I went for Auction Rooms' signature dish, the Sweet and Savoury ($14). My God!
French toast using house made brioche accompanied by pan-fried banana, bacon and berries. This is my new favourite breakfast - the banana, bacon and berries combination tastes AMAZING together with the soft sweet brioche. You gotta try it!