Braeside Cafe, Mt Macedon

It's not often that you get to meet the chickens before you taste the eggs. And it's not often that you find a breakfast venue like the Braeside Cafe, 47 Taylors Road, Mt Macedon, Tel +61 3 5426 1762. With chickens, rosellas and kangaroos in the top paddock, it's quite the Harry Butler experience. And the food kicks arse.

braeside big brekky

You will search long and hard before you find a big breakfast to match this one: two poached (garden-fresh) eggs with hollandaise on home-made toast; a delicious pile of sauteed mushrooms; rashers of extra tasty bacon; roasted tomato; and a big, fat "Istrian" sausage served with a splodge of Gyda's chutney ($15). In 40 years I will be boring the grand-kids with stories of this one: "You call that a sausage, Johnny? Let me tell you about the pork banger I had back in the Winter of 2007..."

this place is hot

But that's not all. This place was scoring faster than a supermodel at a swingers convention. Creamy scrambled eggs with smoked salmon ($10). Excellent eggs Florentine ($10). Corn fritters with salmon, spinach, chutney and a poached egg ($12). Great Grinders coffee. Fancy tea in china pots. Flawless, friendly service. And a cosy, country vibe with warming fire and garden views. If they hadn't run out of pancakes (with bacon and maple syrup), this might well have been my first perfect 20.

You do need to get there before noon, and you may need to book, but it's well worth the one-hour drive from Melbourne if you feel like a road trip.

19/20 "best sausage"


Animal Orchestra, Carlton

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: baked-eggs-in-a-pan is the breakfast fad of 2007. And like all true fads, I'm tipping this one won't last. Which isn't good news for Animal Orchestra, 163 Grattan Street, Carlton, Tel +61 3 9349 4944. Baked-eggs-in-a-pan is all they serve (unless you count muesli and toast). But as baked eggs go, the flavours were good.

animal orchestra

My main objections to baked eggs are two. First, you sometimes get a slight tinny taste where the food has started to react with the iron of the pan. There were slight hints of this in my serve of eggs, beans and cheese today. Second, the dish is just slightly more annoying to eat than plain old eggs-on-toast. I can never decide whether to hold the toast and dunk it in the eggs, or to rip up bits of toast and sprinkle them through the dish like croutons. Call me picky.

I'm sure there will be baked-egg mavens who will disagree with my fad prediction. And I am quite happy to be proven wrong. But once you've experienced the tinny taste a couple of times, I can't see people going back for more. Maybe the secret is to use enamel pans?

If you like baked eggs, Animal Orchestra certainly has plenty to offer: bacon, tomato mushroom and cheese; potato, leek and shanklish; caramelised witlof and goat's cheese; smoked salmon, dill, capers and onions; and sardines and fetta.

The venue is quirky. Outside they have lots of little stools for Melbourne Uni types to perch on. Inside it looks like someone wallpapered the place with random magazine clippings, including a sprinkling of soft porn (or maybe it was art?).

13/20 "fully baked"


Defamation Storm in a Limoncello Oyster Shell

Put away the Casey Donovan CDs, it's not over yet. Despite what you may read in the papers, this week's High Court decision in the Coco Roco limoncello-oyster-car-crash food critic defamation case is just the main course in a drawn out legal saga. Just desserts have yet to be served. The courts will now have to decide whether Evans and Fairfax are protected by a defence like "truth" or "fair comment" (or something like that... I'm no defamation expert). So, for now, there's no need to panic. But if they lose the next round, and you're a food blogger, you should probably hide all your assets behind a nice, thick layer of offshore trusts, or move to Mallorca.

There has never been much argument that a punter reading Matthew Evans' review might conclude that the food was unpalatable (he said most of it was), or that some of the service was bad (ditto). All the High Court said was that it's OK for a bunch of judges to override the jury's opinion that these things were not defamatory (ie, damaging to somebody's reputation), and substitute their own opinion that they were.

The only dissenting view came from Kirby (outnumbered 6:1 unfortunately), who reckoned it was a bad idea for judges to be shoving their culinary opinions down people's throats:

Astonishing as it may seem, judges may occasionally lack a sense of irony or humour. Some may undervalue "free speech" or sometimes even feel hostility to a "free press". In such matters, therefore, there is safety in the numbers of a jury.

Astonishing, indeed.

Glass at the Hilton, Sydney

As Matthew Evans would say, it's a swank venue. No, not Coco Roco. I'm talking about Glass Brasserie, Level 2, 488 George Street, Sydney. The swank and, dare I say, spiffing restaurant at the Hilton. But is it Sydney's finest breakfast? According to the propaganda floating around the hotel, yes. According to me, no. But that's just my opinion.


I wouldn't go so far as to call the scrambled eggs "outstandingly dull", but they were a little bit bland. Nothing a bit of salt and pepper couldn't fix (except that my pepper grinder was empty). Otherwise, my a la carte order of "fresh country eggs" looked like it had been freshly spooned off the buffet spread and onto a plate. A bucket-load of limp, greasy bacon; a few very nice little snags; good sauteed spinach; some soft tomato (which I didn't eat); and some dull mushrooms.

Technically I shouldn't have got the mushrooms, which were a feature of the $27 "plated breakfast", and I should have got "herb roasted potatoes" (part of my $17 breakfast). I asked were my spuds were and was quickly presented with a side of disc-shaped hash browns (with no obvious sign of herbs).

Apart from this plating mix-up, the service was attentive, swift and polite, as you'd expect in a swank, spiffing venue. Basically, it's a good spot for a power-breakfast, but there's nothing remarkable about the food. And let's not forget the warm and fuzzy feeling you'll get from supporting the Hilton family during this difficult time.

14/20 "swank"


The Commoner, Fitzroy

I'll bet they don't serve food like this in prison. Unlike the "bran flakes and milk, hard-boiled eggs, a bun, jelly and fruit juice" that Paris Hilton is currently not eating, the fried egg sandwich at The Commoner, 122 Johnston St, Fitzroy, Tel +61 3 9415 6876, is hot. They call it "Honky". And this is one Honky worth speeding across town in your Bentley for.

the commoner

The Honky really is an excellent egg sandwich. Two thick slices of Babka white bread, filled with a fried egg, crispy pancetta, rocket, aioli and harissa. Loaded with flavour. But not quite perfect. The yolk, you see, was still very much in liquid form. One bite and your hands, plate and the table below are covered in bright yellow goo. You have been warned. Unfortunately, I wasn't.

Paris, as we all know, was warned. But she, like, didn't understand that, like, she might end up in, like, a small cage wearing orange overalls (which are so last season), eating bran flakes. Helloooo... bran flakes? Can't I, like, order in a Bacon & Egg McMuffin?

Even Tony "The Rug" Mokbel is moaning about prison food. Who do I have to shoot to get a decent espresso 'round here?

Luckily, I was able to score a very nice latte at The Commoner without any threat of physical violence. But if you like it strong, you should say so. The default brew was a bit weak for my taste.

16/20 "honky"


Eggs & Bacon $12.00 BB100 +20%