Tuesday, 22 December 2009

So you want to have breakfast in the Melbourne CBD

Hardware Societe baked eggs

Okay folks, here's a belated entry to my recent Amnesty Fortnight. It's the Melbourne Gastronome guide to the best breakfasts/brunches within the confines of the Melbourne CBD. Most of these were visited by yours truly over the last few months, either with the Ladies Who Lunch or with a group of housemate DJ's friends for our now regular (fortnightly) Bourgeois Breakfasts. I've got a dozen places here on my list, but if you can recommend any others please let me know - we're running out of new Bourgeois Breakfast venues!

Hardware Societe
120 Hardware Street, Melbourne (map)
9078 5992

Hardware Societe herb garden

Di and Will, the proprietors of the newish Hardware Societe, used to run the cafe opposite (which was called Beetroot but has been renamed by its most recent owners - for some ghastly, deeply unfathomable reason - as "McSpankys Famous Foods"... truly, the mind doth boggle).

Hardware Societe is just gorgeous - from the outdoor herb garden brightening up Hardware Street to the sleek, nifty interior lit by oversized naked light bulbs. They're open for breakfast and lunch Mondays to Fridays - read more about the lunches on offer in Mellie's excellent review.

Hardware Societe

On my first visit, I ordered the soft boiled eggs and 3 soldiers ($12). But these were no ordinary soldiers: the first one had gravlax and crème fraîche, the second had roquefort and rocket and the third had jamón and romesco.

Hardware Societe soft boiled eggs

The baked eggs ($11) are served in the most gorgeous little pots: there was a choice between roquefort and field mushrooms, or chorizo and pimentos.

Hardware Societe baked eggsHardware Societe baked eggs

Each coffee (Supreme) comes served with a miniature doughnut. The macarons are made in-house: they're sometimes slightly wonky in shape but taste delicious (especially the orange and passionfruit, mmmmmmm).

Hardware Societe doughnutsOrange and passionfruit macaron

YES, we did order 14 coffees. Not bad for a Bourgeois Breakfast of six people!

Hardware Societe receipt

Mr Tulk
328 Swanston Street (entry via Lonsdale St), Melbourne (map)
8660 5700

Mr Tulk

For those who don't already know it, Mr Tulk is located at the northern end of the State Library, and is named after the Library's first chief librarian. Gorgeous interior, n'est-ce pas?

Mr TulkMr Tulk

Recommended dishes are the fried egg bruschetta with fetta and crispy shallots ($12) and the corned beef hash with poached eggs and Dijon ($14).

Fried egg bruschetta with fetta and crispy shallotsCorned beef hash with poached eggs and Dijon

The Hotel Windsor
100-150 Spring Street, Melbourne (map)
9633 6000

The Windsor

If you're in the mood for something a bit different and old school, you might like to swan in for breakfast at the Windsor. The $16 Express Breakfast gets you freshly squeezed orange juice, two pastries, fruit salad and a hot beverage served from a silver vessel.

Juice and danishesThe Windsor silver service

Or you might like to do what I did and order from the a la carte menu. I chose the impressive corn cakes with avocado salsa, tomatoes, sour cream and Atlantic salmon ($14). DJ had the parmesan scrambled eggs with toasted brioche and double smoked bacon ($13).

SalmonEgg scramble

Council House 2
240 Little Collins Street, Melbourne (map)
9639 7778

Council House 2

When I saw photos of the interior of Council House 2 (CH2) on Lucy's wonderful blog The Design Files, I was architecturally smitten and immediately keen to check out the restaurant on level 1. I'm sorry to say though that the Ladies Who Lunch and I were very disappointed with the breakfasts we were served: the "potato hash with poached egg, crispy bacon or spinach" ($13.50) turned out to be dry roasted potatoes (no hash), and the claypot baked eggs with roast tomato, feta and chorizo ($13.50) were too dry and rubbery. Our visit was over six months ago though, and I've heard through the twittervine that things have improved - can anyone confirm?

Potato hash with poached egg, crispy bacon OR spinachClaypot baked eggs with roast tomato, feta and chorizo

The European
161 Spring Street, Melbourne (map)
9654 0811

The European

The European is a consistently good city breakfast option. Last time she was in town, my friend CJ and I went to the MCG ridiculously early in the morning on Boxing Day to reserve our Members seats for Day 1 of the Test, and then sauntered through Fitzroy and Treasury Gardens to treat ourselves to a pre-cricket 8am champagne breakfast at the European. It was SUCH a nice way to start Day 1, I'm half tempted to do it again this year.

Recommended dishes include the croque-monsieur ($12.50) and the special I had last time, the wild mushroom open omelette ($17.50).

Croque monsieurWild mushroom open omelette

Other Bourgeois Breakfast attendees enjoyed the frittata of smoked trout and potato with avocado salsa ($16) and the seasonal fruit salad with organic yoghurt ($12.50).

Frittata of smoked trout and potato with avocado salsaFruit salad

The Mess Hall
51 Bourke Street, Melbourne (map)
9654 6800

The Mess Hall

Finally, there's the most recent Bourgeois Breakfast venue: the Mess Hall. On Friday morning, in the midst of the Christmas-drinks-soaked silly season, the name of the cafe summed up our collective mindset pretty well.

As per my recent visit to Miss Jackson, I decided to order the corn fritters with avocado and cream cheese ($13.50). They tasted great, and I loved the presentation of the careful stack with scattered segments of tomato.

Corn fritters

Other prandial highlights included the scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and herbs ($13.50) and the BLT with seeded mustard mayonnaise ($9.50).

Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and herbsBLT

Miss A ordered the bruschetta with Bulgarian feta, rocket, organic tomato and olive tapenade ($9.50), with a side serve of poached eggs. A ordered the Sicilian beans on sourdough toast ($9.50) with a side serve of spinach and avocado.

Bruschetta with poached eggsSicilian beans on sourdough toast

As is tradition at Bourgeois Breakfast, we ordered too many coffees. As we were waiting for the second (or was it third?) round to arrive, DJ suggested sharing custard-laden doughnuts as a breakfast second course. Wicked man!

Second breakfast

*** EDITED 16/01/10 TO ADD:
Fabulous Melbourne Gastronome reader Poppy has done some research for you all, calling each of the places reviewed in this post to confirm what their opening hours are over the weekend. See the results of her research in the Comments section. BIG THANK YOU to Poppy!! :) ***

But that's not all... in addition to the six illustrated above, here's a list of previously reviewed places in the city that I can recommend for breakfast:

Liaison (22 Ridgway Place) does a limited but delicious breakfast menu, including gluten free muesli with fruit and yoghurt for those so inclined. Drop in and say hi to Danny and Sian from me.

Le Triskel (32 Hardware Lane) does excellent authentic crêpes and big bowls of coffee in which you can dunk your baguette/croissant.

Cumulus Inc (45 Flinders Lane) - what can I say? You MUST TRY the 65/65 egg and the lemon curd madeleines. You simply must.

Cafe Vue (430 Little Collins Street) for the French hot chocolate that is as delicious as it is outrageously expensive, and the croque-monsieur.

SMXL (542 Little Bourke Street) is at the back of my office building, so I often drop in for a m'oave or a jaffle.

MoVida Terraza (Level 1, 500 Bourke Street - access via Lt Bourke St) was written up in Melbourne Gastronome just the other week, but I went back again shortly after my first visit. In addition to the other dishes I previous recommended, you've got to try these tostadas with imported Cantabrian sardines and tomato ($10). SO GOOD!!

Sardines on toast at Movida Terraza


Zardoz said...

Omigod I love this blog! There's enough foodie ideas in this one post alone to keep me busy over the summer break.

Reemski said...

Woman, you are taking me to Hardware Societe in March when I come to visit.

Leanne said...

Mmmm I should breakfast in Melbourne more often. This appears to be a fabulous list which has left me drooling.

I just discovered your blog and love it! Have been reading through old entries :)

Jetsetting Joyce (MEL: HOT OR NOT) said...

What a great list - I'm oftened asked for places for CBD breakfast so this is v helpful. PS the homemade muesli at Mr Tulk is v v good.

Jetsetting Joyce

Johanna GGG said...

new year's resolution - have breakfast in at least one of these places next year - all look fab

Hannah said...

This is a terrific post, Claire! I never know where to go for breakfast in the city, and these places all look so fantastic! Unfortunately so many of these amazing looking CBD places are closed on weekends and I never get to go :(

Note to self: do not read food blogs on an empty stomach.

Jonathan Wilkinson said...

One of my favourite entries. I just kissed goodbye to my weekly Saturday morning anxiety: where to eat? I LOVE getting your feed in my inbox!

MissK said...

This is such a great guide to city breakfast spots,I hardly go to the city on the weekends but will need to make the effort to get up early on a weekday and treat myself to breakfast out before work

mellie said...

Brilliant post Claire! I must try those toast soldiers at Hardware - yum! I too often get side-tracked by the sweeter options though ;-)

Thanks for the link too!

claire said...

Aw, thanks Zardoz!

Reemski, it's a date. :)

Thanks Leanne, glad you're enjoying the old entries.

Thank you Joyce. I'm not much of a muesli fan as a general rule, but may try it next time.

Sounds like a good resolution to me, Joanne!

Thanks Hannah and J! I'd issue a word of caution though: not all of these places are open on the weekends. I'd call first to avoid disappointment...

Good idea, MissK! It'll put you in a good mood for the rest of the day :)

No worries Mellie! I loved your review.

Poppy Gets a Life said...

Hi Claire! Thanks so much for a great round up. I am CONSTANTLY looking for places in the CBD for breakfast. We come in from all different sides of the city, and always end up in Degraves Lane because we can't find anything decent that is open on the weekend.

I actually just called all the places on your list to see who IS open on the weekend, and though I would post the results here for those who are also looking for places on a Saturday and Sunday.

All the best,

Hardware Societe
Saturdays open as of February 2010
Sundays CLOSED

Mr Tulk
Saturdays open from 9am
Sundays CLOSED

The Hotel Windsor
Open Saturday and Sunday for breakfast 7am - 10.30am (buffet stops being replenished around 10.15am, but a la carte menu would still be an option)

Council House 2
Saturdays open from 8.30am
Sundays open from 9.30am

The European
Saturdays and Sundays open from 7.30am, they don't take bookings

The Mess Hall
Saturdays and Sundays open from 8am

claire said...

Poppy!! I am VERY impressed at your dedicated research. Thank you so much!

Oh, and Hardware Societe announced via Twitter that it's official: in response to this blog, Hardware Societe will be open on Saturdays from the 6th of Feb from 8.30am! :)

Matt C said...

this is so useful to me! thank you!

Hardware Societe said...

With many thanks to Claire, and to Poppy gets a life. I can now confirm that Hardware Societe will open for breakfast & lunch from 6 Feburary 2010, from 8.30am.

Matt C said...

And here's this post in map form.

Unknown said...

Claire darling - I can safely assure you that Council House 2 STILL has a fair way to go to being worth another entry in your blog. I had a comedy of errors/disasters on a recent visit. The poor service was a shame, as the food itself (even if not what we ordered!) was not half bad.

Two fit and fun gals said...

GREAT POST THANK YOU! am bookmarking this page as i am heading to melb in jan for the ausopen and i LOVE eating out at breakfast time :O)

Kat (Spatula, Spoon and Saturday) said...

awww you make me lust after a nice breakfast in the city now that I won't make it for a few months...

Anonymous said...

YAY i've finally made it to ONE of these places - hardware societe ...now to trundle through the rest HAHA.