the dance of the ink riddled fingers

café critique

Posted in incr-edibles by enisea on 25/04/2011

 I love food, but I’m not exactly a cultured, travelling or spending sort of lover.  This one week seemed to be an exception to this. So I thought I’ll give you my 2c opinion of my experience from different parts of Melbourne.

.– – – – –

Saturday’s visit (16.Apr.11) with Mother.
Cafe Bonita (150 Auburn Road, Hawthorn, VIC, 3122)

The Mother and I decided a light brekkie was fitting after a reasonably rough thai massage, and so enter us to this little cafe (the size of a studio apartment). It had a shy but comfortably individualistic vibe, and the staff were friendly – but not in the typical salesperson way, in an honest sort of “I’ll give you attention because I like people and not because I want to butter you up” way.  We ordered their ‘big breakfast’ of sorts, to share, and a mug latte and reg caramel mocha. 

This is where a little more effort, pleasant surprises and quality customer rapport impressed us.  The slightly noticeable wait was instantly forgiven as they presented our one dish in two halves, neatly in front of us both.  An effort I’ve never witnessed!  We were impressed and satisfied… but our ‘coffee’s had not yet arrived even after finishing breakfast.  So I approached the counter and wait for a little and remind them of our coffees, requesting it be take-away. I was met with a “Didn’t you get your coffees? Oh my, I’m so sorry! She must have forgotten, I’ll make them for you now and don’t worry about paying for them, I’ll just charge you for the breakfast, there is no excuse, we’re not busy at all”.  I politely resisted but she so insisted that the innocent neglect was almost unforgiveable, that I gratefully accept the gesture and watch her skillfully combine ingredients in a whaft of caffeine.  She made them hot – which is rare nowadays, cafe’s lately have been so worried about burning milk OR too busy that most coffees are…warm, it’s unpleasant! I digress. Pleasant experience, impressive and considerate kindness.  I walked out $16 lighter and smiling in unbelief!

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Wednesday’s visit (20.Apr.11) with the College group (10+ company)
The League of Honest Coffee
(8 Exploration Lane, Melbourne, VIC, 3000)

Down Little Lonsdale, two blocks away from Swanston Street, was this two week old hub.  Decked in calm green and a wood look, it throbbed of pleasing aethestetic and suave ambience.  Haha, I’m tempted to let “the league of extraordinary gentlemen” roll off my tongue, but this joint’s not a far cry from that either!  The baristers there were indeed gentlemen, refreshingly meek and of gentle smile (contrary to the rise of arrogance that plagues our proud coffee coulture)!  They shuffled into accomodating more than ten of us by joining four(?) tables.  Expected prices of $3.50 for steaming beverages and a tempting few pasties also for the same price.  Alas, they do not provide savouries, or I would’ve liked to remain there the entire day.  Not being an avid coffee drinker I asked for tea (which they do loose).  They housed the typical common teas, plus herbal and green, and because I am indecisive, I asked for a mix of peppermint and camomile, which they did for me, and then refilled my teapot with hot water twice following!  Two pasties, one tea, and one hot choc (between two) was an easily justified $14.  Nice place, nicer people; calm, cool and very collected. Andrew was adamant about taking us all there… and for good reason.

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Thursday’s visit (21.Apr.11) with Liz
Coco lounge (93 Kingsway, Glen Waverley, VIC, 3150)

This may be my fourth or fifth time here… and probably the least favourable visit too.  I was greeted by a friendly waitress, who seated me as I waited for company to arrive.  Generally everything went accordingly prior to the food. We were waited on and served politely and in good timing until the food arrived.  Now, both Liz and I both decided on Focaccias from the lunch menu, I ordered a ‘proscuitto’ ($15.50) and Liz ordered a ‘chicken’ ($16.50).  The wait was reasonable.  Then comes the waitress declaring “Vegetarian?’… “Sorry? We didn’t order a vegetarian focaccia…”, “Oh… Proscuitto?” “Yes, that’d be me, thanks”. So she takes the incorrect order and we see a little checking back and fourth and we wait with the one dish between us.  Both being polite I refuse to eat until she got hers, and she insists I eat or it’d get cold.  We compromise and both eat the side chips.  We probably wait another 15 minutes for the correct dish, which is a long time to wait with food going cold in the process.  Liz wasn’t very impressed, “they should’ve put it on priority order”, and there wasn’t even in between reassurance or even a “sorry” until they brought the correct focaccia out, which we thought was minimal consideration and communication.  The focaccia was alright, it was a little on the salty side, but I suppose that’s the nature of proscuitto… and, for me, cold.

The staff here (save one waitress) had an air about them that sort of brushed off this minor offense.  They seemed to have proud posture, as if they rather minimise acknowledgement of mistake/humility rather than appeasing the disparity.  We ate and left.

– – – – –

Sunday’s visit (24.Apr.11) with Jenny, Kirstyn, Grace and Angel.
Snow Pony (95 Whitehorse Road, Balwyn, VIC, 3103)

Our visit here was intential, thanks to an Entertainment voucher and it’s location being a two minute drive from Jenny’s.  May I firstly exclaim my delight at their deco!  It’s a wonderful aura of rustic and playful; simple, impressive and homely!  There’s a little outdoorsie area further in the little thing, I didn’t get to explore it, but it looked comfortable and easy.  The food here was simple, cute, satisfying.  I don’t think I noticed the food as much as I enjoyed the interior, which might be indicative of what was noticeable.  Grace and Jenny wanted to order scones but there was only one left, so Jenny got it (priority vote being pregnant).  So Grace ordered a slice…which was also reportedly extinct, and finally just agreed with a white choc and date muffin to side her chai latte…though she didn’t properly hear and only heard the ‘white choc’ and not the ‘date’ part of the description (she doesn’t agree with dates, and so hardly made it through half of the muffin).  She mentioned her chai latte was on the weak side, and was a little closer to warm milk than the spicy chai she likes.  Pastries and baked treats were a little on the pricey side, approx $5.  Savouries were between $10-22.  I had a toasted paidini  of the “Organic lamb + pinenut meatball, tomato sugo, mozzarella, spinach” type ($9.90). It was simple and because I made myself eat slowly, satisfying and cheesy, and appropriately tasty.  The place is cute and small and the same may be said about the food.  Again, I agree wholeheartedly with their interior designer. Ps: I like the sound to their site, cute and simple…hahaha, it’s all “cute”! I’d say it’d be a nice place to enjoy a coffee after eating a meal, just to sit and soak up their aesthetic.

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