St Ali North
Back in the summer months – when I was getting back into cycling – I declared that riding from the CBD to St Ali North and then around the remainder of the Capital City Trail would be enough of a return to the sport! So, off we toddled to check out the then new outpost of the very famous St Ali.
Now, I’ve visited the original – and I wasn’t that impressed (see blog post here). Maybe my review was a little limited by the fact that I breakfasted alone, and reviewed only one dish. However, this time I had the support of three other people: hubby Andrew, Rambunctious R and Talkative Techie T. So, I was looking forward to expanding my research sample!
After successfully rolling up to the café, we spied a table about to be vacated and hovered with the intent worthy of a wake of buzzards. As soon as that table was empty we swooped. You better get used to this type of behaviour if you want to visit, because it is incredibly popular here. We were given menus and fresh water, perused the menu and made our selections…
My Mexican Cousin (sans eggs & haloumi)
Menu description: The untouchable “I’ve been on the menu for 8 years coz I am the greatest hit, I am the platinum baby.” Our secret recipe corn fritters with greens, tomato, grilled haloumi, poached eggs.
I ordered the dish made famous by the original St Ali – but with a few modifications. No eggs, and no haloumi, but with the addition of some of their avocado and feta mash. It was a pretty good dish – although I always freak out a little bit about deep-fried breakfast!! Oooh la la!! This is a good variation – you should try it. The avocado and feta mash was really good – you could have this on anything! Well… almost anything…
Sweet 16 and Never Been Kissed
Roasted stone fruit with brioche, bacon ice cream & fruit jus (sic)
This was an interesting dish. I wouldn’t be the first to say that the lack of a comma between the bacon and the ice cream on the menu makes you think you’re going to get some molecular gastronomic delight. But you don’t get bacon ice cream…. You get bacon, ice cream, etc… In my mind – it’s false advertising – but anyhoo. Rambunctuous R wasn’t that impressed with this dish – of course, we’re ambassadors for the very amazing Hardware Societé version of Fried Brioche – quite frankly, no-one I know (please let me know if I’m wrong) can pull it off like they can.
Just eggs (sic) with bacon
Andrew, of course, takes his role as tester of simple poached eggs and bacon very seriously. In this case, he felt that one slice of toast was a little stingy – and why put the eggs on the side and risk a rupture when you move it up to the bread??? He has a point! Other than the architectural issues – he liked the dish.
Just eggs (sic) with house-smoked salmon and avocado & feta mash
Talkative Techie T also decided on eggs with sides… in this case smoked salmon and avocado mash. Once again – he felt somewhat cheated with only one slice of bread, and ordered a side of toast to complement his original order!! Taste wise – he was happy with his dish… but there was nothing outstanding or innovative about any of it.
There’s a few lessons here, people…
1) Request that second piece of toast when you order. That’s right – most dishes only come with one piece – did you say “stingy”? Ah well… if you say so….
2) Be prepared to wait awhile… Service is on the slowish side – it appears the name St Ali has a lot of pull – the restaurant is large, there’s lots of people – so you’re just one customer in a long line of throughput.
3) Ask if there are any grammatical errors in the menu… the lack of a comma can lead to some disappointment.
4) If all else fails – and you have some means of transport… travel up the road a bit to Pope Joan (untested by me… but I hear good things) or Milkwood (amazing café with some of Melbourne’s best pancakes).
So, overall St Ali North provided a decent breakfast, but nothing worth writing home about. I certainly wouldn’t put it on my list of destination breakfasts but this won’t stop it being incredibly popular and enjoying a captive crowd of diners. The location is amazing – and they’ve done a beautiful job with the décor and fit out. It’s proximity for cyclists who are out for a toddle on their bikes is clever, and makes you wonder why something like this wasn’t done years ago. Young families of the inner northern burbs seem to appreciate the fact it is adjacent to a children’s playground and the gentle part of the Capital City Trail. So, my prediction is that it will continue to enjoy ongoing, sustainable, and even burgeoning, patronage. But for my money, it’s probably worth going further afield on your two wheels and checking out some of the more innovative offerings available not too far away…
And for those who are interested… I smashed the rest of the Capital City Trail like that avocado!!