Marmalade and Soul

Marmalade and Soul
162 Queens Parade
Fitzroy North  VIC  3068
03 9486 2740
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I had been dying to try Marmalade and Soul for months now. Ever since I found out, from the great man himself, that Raymond Capaldi was opening a more casual eatery in Fitzroy North – I knew I had to check it out.  What would this maestro of the kitchen do in a more low-key establishment?? More importantly – what would he do for breakfast???  So, when Row from She Rides Cycling asked me where we should do breakfast next – I did not vacillate:  Marmalade and Soul!

We rocked up at 8:15am and decided to sit inside – although there is plenty of outdoor seating if you’re looking for a more alfresco experience.  It’s just that the inside is really so beautiful – it was beckoning us to stay inside.

The fit out of the space is meticulously done – clearly designed by someone who has an impeccable sense of style and an eye for detail.  From the huge double hung windows, the colander lampshades, wooden spoon chandelier, pressed tin wrapped around the servery and raw exposed red brick feature walls – right through to the stamped packets for your cutlery, the potted herbs on the communal table and the gorgeous little ceramics – the room has a real sense of ambience and warmth.

Now… I’m not sure if the locals in Fitzroy North like their sleep in… but the place was very quiet up until about 10am – when it finally kicked into gear.  This was really bizarre for me – I’m used to getting to places at opening time, because they’re so busy from the moment they’re open it’s the only time you can guarantee that you don’t have to wait or jockey for a table.  But, at Marmalade and Soul, up til about 10am – it was pretty sleepy…

We weren’t sleeping though… so we started off with our customary coffee while we perused the menu.  Hello my wonderful 3/4 flat white… ! Lovely to see you!

Orange and olive cake, orange custard, raspberry compote, bacon

I can’t remember where I heard about it, but I always knew I was going to have the orange and olive cake.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed… but I’m a little partial to a hot, sweet breakfast (Did somebody mention pancakes????).  Anyway, this was the closest thing, and someone had mentioned it was the M&S take on French Toast.

Now – the dish does look stunning – no arguments there.  It’s very impressive visually.  However, on the taste front, the dish seemed to just miss the “wow” factor.  The cake was moist, but could have had more orange flavour; the orange custard was rich, creamy and indulgent but somehow didn’t add anything to the cake; the bacon had been cooked in such a way that the texture was completely homogenised into a stiff, waxy chalkiness, and it didn’t add that hit of saltiness I was looking for.  On the plus side, I have to acknowledge that the raspberry compote was lovely – and did help to cut through the richness of the dish.   Unfortunately though, I’ve got to say that while the description held such great promise, the dish itself just failed to hit the “amazing” level that I wanted….   Maybe it was a case of high expectations.

Scottish square sausage, fried eggs, HP sauce, sourdough bread

Row ordered the Scottish square sausage – but was a little disappointed because she was expecting an actual sausage.  Her impression was that the dish lacked a certain aesthetic and could have been presented better.  The sausage was quite bland – and could have done with more seasoning and spices to provide a real kick. The HP sauce was not served with the dish – but a bottle was brought to our table after we had ordered.  Although this allows you to determine the quantity of sauce on your plate, Row felt it was a little lazy.

So – what’s my summary?  The weird thing for us was that we felt like we needed to go out for breakfast again.  It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with what we ate, but it was a neutral experience.  We were a little disappointed – and although we felt physically satisfied – on an emotional, experiential level it didn’t quite hit the spot.  It’s a pity – because I so much wanted to love this place. On a positive note, on the way out, Row bought a brownie to take home with her… and she later reported it was lovely and gooey, and very good!! (That’s our Row… she can’t resist a cake display! Especially one that’s positioned very close to the register!)

That stunning cake display!!

Overall, we had a lovely breakfast – however, this was mainly due to the conversation and relaxed ambience of the café, rather than the food being fabulous.  I won’t give up on M&S  just yet – as I’d love to try it for dinner… but breakfast just didn’t do it for me.  Sorry Raymond!!

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