HOT: Foxtrot Charlie, 359 Sydney Road, Brunswick

foxtrot charlie

When you walk through the door of Foxtrot Charlie, look up. The soaring model aeroplane will explain the name of this Brunswick cafe.

foxtrot charlie

The cafe’s typically narrow frontage on Sydney Road expands out into a surprisingly spacious area divided into two segments. Basically, there’s the adults area and a kids area and it’s all uber-stylish thanks to local Brunswick designers ZWEI (who also designed the amazing ninja-esque Code Black Coffee).

foxtrot charlie

foxtrot charlie

The kids area isn’t designated as such but it’s the light-filled extension to the dimly lit concrete-and-brick front section. Even if I didn’t have kids I think I’d prefer to eat amongst the cheerful short stools and tables.

foxtrot charlie

The menu is quite inventive, with twists on the standard-issue cafe offerings. I went for the creamed cod on toast, sesame seed crust, caponata and a poached egg ($17). It’s sort of a British, Italian, Chinese prawn toast fusion dish and it works, with a pan fried crusty base or organic sourdough wielding a thick slathering of smoky fish paste and a hearty stewy accompaniment. The egg is perfect and apparently all their biodynamic eggs are cooked at 62.5 degrees.

foxtrot charlie

So for dessert I share the spelt and almond waffles with sabayon cream and spiced strawberries ($16). It’s a pretty dish of mulled spices and the waffles are more of the dense, Belgian style rather than fluffy American versions. My only quibble was that I think for the serving size perhaps the dish was a couple of dollars more expensive than I’d expect.

Foxtrot Charlie roast their own coffee and use organic biodynamic milk, so I’d expect the end product to be good given the amount of care taken in the ingredients.

I really enjoyed my delicious and relaxed lunch at Foxtrot Charlie and was a bit surprised that it wasn’t busier. The staff were all friendly, the food was high quality and the setting was stylish and comfortable.

Foxtrot Charlie 359 Sydney Road, Brunswick (03) 9387 3397

Mon to Fri 7:30 am – 4:00 pm

Sat to Sun 7:30 am – 5:00 pm

Foxtrot Charlie on Urbanspoon

HOT: Sweet Evelyn, 128 Union St, Brunswick

sweet evelyn

Sweet Evelyn is a Brunswick cafe and micro bakery which is as sweet as its name (apparently named after the owners’ daughter).

sweet evelyn

All the baked goods are made fresh on site every day, from the large range of cupcakes to the brownies, cookies and savouries – only the bread and croissants are brought in from Dench Bakery. They only use free range eggs and where possible, organic ingredients. They also serve up a simple all day breakfast and lunch menu with most items under $15 – a bargain in brunch-mad Brunswick. Coffee is from Reverence and in fact you can find their cakes at Reverence cafe in Ascot Vale.

The cafe is spacious and there’s a back courtyard for warmer days. Though a bit of fake grass to soften the look and feel of the bare concrete would be appreciated.

sweet evelyn

Three of us stopped by for afternoon tea and indulged in a white chocolate raspberry cupcake, a caramel popcorn cupcake, a dotty chocolate biscuit bigger than a toddler’s head and a slice of gluten free beetroot chocolate cake. I know – that’s more serves of cake than people at the table! That’s how irresistible everything was on the counter.

sweet evelyn

sweet evelyn

The cupcake base was a little dense but still quite moist (the caramel cupcake had caramel inside as well), while the buttercream frosting was marshmallow light. The chocolate cake was a decadent, muddy mixture with a chocolate avocado mousse and a sprinkling of pistachios. It’s worthwhile licking every crumb off the plate as it’s relatively guilt-free because it contains veges!

sweet evelyn

The combination of delicious home made treats, super-friendly service and play time opportunities if you have kids in tow, I will definitely be heading back to Sweet Evelyn.  Next time I’m going to try the brioche doughnuts!

Sweet Evelyn, 128 Union St, Brunswick 0432 189 744

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday: 7:30am- 4pm

Tuesday: Closed

Friday, Saturday: 7:30 – 6pm

Sweet Evelyn on Urbanspoon

HOT: Code Black Coffee, 15-17 Weston St, Brunswick

Code Black coffee

Code Black Coffee is a cafe and specialty coffee roaster in Brunswick. It is housed in one of the most darkly dramatic warehouse conversions I’ve seen, designed by local Brunswick architects ZWEI Interiors Architecture.

Code Black coffee

Code Black coffee

As its name suggests the exterior is a brutal black and the interior is all masculine. Black walls, dark concrete floors, black wire furniture with only glints of wood and industrial metal. It’s all sharp edges and jagged angles and for some reason brings to mind being enveloped by a Yohji Yamatoto garment. If there was ever a set for a ninja training school, this would be it.

Code Black coffee

The food menu is more light-hearted and creative and you guessed it, etched in black.

I started with a bacon and soft-shelled crab brioche burger ($20). That’s three of my favourite ingredients in one awesome dish! Inside the fat bun was also stuffed some spicy slaw with some creamy mashed potato and sharp cornichons on the side, a needed textural contrast from the fry-up.

Code Black coffee

For dessert I chose double-downed on brioche. To be precise, French toast brioche sandwich filled with hazelnut and chocolate ganache and salted caramel sauce ($17.90). Another three of my favourite ingredients combined!

Code Black coffee

If you choose the start your day with one of these beauties then make sure you allocate time for a food coma afterwards. There were three fat slices of chocolately brioche, a large pool of scorching salted caramel and a generous handful of crunchy cocoa and goji berry crumble. A very tempting combination but I had a problem with the sauce. I’m not sure it was the chef or the cold weather but the sauce had basically set by the time I was halfway through the plate. It was impossible to cut through, sticking to the cutlery and plate and I was afraid I was going to lose teeth trying to chew it.

Code Black coffee

It goes without saying that the coffee at Code Black Coffee is of a high standard and you can watch the roasting operations while you wait on your food. On Saturdays they run free cupping sessions in a dedicated cupping room.

Lucky Brunswick dwellers get two excellent cafe/boutique coffee roasters within 500 metres of each other. Which is your favourite – Wide Open Road or Code Black Coffee?

Incidentally, ZWEI Interiors Architecture are running free walking tours of Sydney Road during Melbourne Open House 27-29 July, starting at Code Black Coffee. The tours are sold out but I’m going to try my luck and just turn up after enjoying breakfast at the cafe. ZWEI will also be publishing a self-guided walking tour with notes after the event on their website. 

Code Black Coffee, 15-17 Weston St, Brunswick 03 9381 2330

Mon-Sun 7am-5pm

Click to add a blog post for Code Black Coffee on Zomato

HOT: Wide Open Road, 274 Barkly St, Brunswick

wide open road

Melbourne cafes doesn’t get any more hipster than at Wide Open Road in Brunswick.

I don’t mean that in a pejorative way. Wide Open Road is an excellent cafe which is so into its coffee that it houses a roastery, green bean storage and coffee lab. It also stocks other cafes in Melbourne including Small Victories, The Fair Foodstore, Little Big Sugar Salt and Sookie La La.

wide open road

The baristas are bearded, tattooed and passionate about their brew and it seems that you can order your coffee in a hundred different ways.

wide open road

The fitout is peak hipster. The space is a converted warehouse and the former signage is still part of the frontage. There are fixie bikes parked against the backdrop of a large paste-up.

wide open road

The interior decor is all industrial chic with vintage school chairs, frosted light shades and even terrariums!

wide open road

My interest in Wide Open Road is mainly for its food. The seasonal menu has been awarded 3 stars in The Age Good Food Under $30 and a glance indicated an interesting, off-the-beaten track (pun intended) menu.

On a freezing winter’s morning the one menu item I gravitated towards was soup. I don’t think I’ve ever had soup for breakfast (except maybe when sick) and certainly not willingly ordered it from a breakfast menu. But fennel and white bean soup sounded like just the thing to cuddle up to on a frosty morning.

wide open road

The smooth, creamy soup was soothing and rich, with hits of savoury from the smoked cod, chorizo and added protein in the form of a floating poached egg ($15).

Craving something sweet I dithered between the banana split and the hazelnut and pear bread. When I asked the waitress which dish had more ‘wow’ factor she directed me to the banana split ($14.50).

wide open road

What came out was not the dingy Chinese restaurant version of the dessert but a sundae masquerading as breakfast. The glass contained cubes of passionfruit froyo, a sprinkle of peanut and coconut granola, freeze dried berries and cocoa nibs – sweet, cold and crunchy in every mouthful.

wide open road

The cakes are also all made on premises if you want a sweet treat to go with your coffee.

I enjoyed my breakfast at Wide Open Road and given their commitment to seasonal produce and to making cakes in house I’m keen to try more of the menu. It’s certainly a popular haunt on weekends so others must feel the same way.

Wide Open Road, 274 Barkly St, Brunswick (03) 9387 6079

Mon-Sat 7am-5pm, Sun 8am-5pm

Wide Open Road on Urbanspoon

HOT: Jellystone Cafe,179 Albion St, Brunswick

If you’re looking for a break from the bustle of Sydney Road, take a turn into Albion Street and look out for Jellystone, a cafe that’s taken over a heritage-listed bluestone house.

Just inside the gate is the front courtyard with shaded tables then push open the narrow door to admire the counter filled with loads of homemade goodies. Further inside is a cosy rabbit warren of small and shared tables dotted with parents, students and workmates finding their nooks by the open fireplace or peeping from behind beautiful leadlight windows.

The breakfast and lunch menus are extensive and reasonably priced and will make decision-making even more difficult given the additional premade offerings in the front counter. I chose the Middle Eastern eggs ($16) – two creamy-yolked poached eggs atop sourdough, rocket, sweet beetroot relish and with a healthy handful of crunchy and very spicy dukkah. I’m guessing that I unknowingly chose the most popular dish on the menu (for good reason) as the waitress gave me a knowing ‘a-ha’ when I placed my order.

For dessert the lemon and pistachio cake is a must-try. A very moist cake generously studded with nuts and topped with a praline of crystallised sugar and more pistachios, it’s a delicious bargain at $5.50.

The coffee is from Atomica and should be excellent given that Jellystone is owned by Atomica‘s former head barista.

For other excellent lunch eats in Brunswick, try Lux Foundry and Tom Phat.

Jellystone Cafe, 179 Albion St, Brunswick +61 3 9386 7750

Monday to Friday 7am-4pm; Saturday, Sunday 8.30am-4pm

View MEL: HOT OR NOT in a larger map

Jellystone on Urbanspoon

HOT: Lux Foundry, 21 Hope St, Brunswick

P1090297 317x540 HOT: Lux Foundry, 21 Hope St, Brunswick

Lux Foundry is one of the friendliest establishments I’ve been to recently and I can’t rave about it enough.

P1090256 384x540 HOT: Lux Foundry, 21 Hope St, Brunswick

The cafe is housed in a heritage listed building, an old stove foundry, and the decor has retained some of the rugged industrial elements while updating the look with enamel pendant lamps and classic Thonet chairs.

P1090260 540x352 HOT: Lux Foundry, 21 Hope St, Brunswick

Inside the building gasp-inducing cathedral ceilings give lots of light to the brushed concrete and exposed brick factory floor while the huge outdoor area in front means no fighting for seats and lots of space for kids to roam when the weather is warm.

P1090301 540x360 HOT: Lux Foundry, 21 Hope St, Brunswick

Besides your usual hip cafe crowd you’d expect in Brunswick the place draws cyclists, pram-pushing parents and dog owners all in need of a drink and some food. I found the staff to be welcoming and accommodating for all – the kind of place where you feel like they’d know your name if you were a regular.

A and I converged onto the cafe with kids and bikes in tow and on a weekday lunch hour it was like a pram convention. After a bit of faffing by us and patience from the waitress we finally ordered lunch – an Asian shredded chicken salad, cabbage, snow peas, peanuts with chilli, lime and sesame oil dressing ($16.50) and an egg and bacon La Madre panini with tomato relish ($10.50).

My salad was a fresh and crunchy affair, full of exuberant health with a kick of chilli to liven things up. A’s breakfast panini was fairly stock standard though good quality ingredients equals a sandwich that’s better than average.

P1090266 540x359 HOT: Lux Foundry, 21 Hope St, Brunswick

For dessert I trawled the glass cakes cabinet indecisively before one of the staff came to help me. His advice was to go for the berry coconut slice ($4) as it was his favourite – and my advice is to do the same! Indulge in a layers of sugar with your Genovese coffee ($3.50) or the creamy and fragrant LUX Chai Latte ($3.70).

P1090282 540x360 HOT: Lux Foundry, 21 Hope St, Brunswick

P1090265 442x540 HOT: Lux Foundry, 21 Hope St, Brunswick

The folks at Lux Foundry are so nice that they even let another business take up shop in their courtyard on Fridays! The Gumbo Kitchen food truck parks there every Friday night, serving gumbo, po’ boys and other Louisiana inspired food. Yet another reason to visit.

Lux Foundry, 21 Hope St, Brunswick +61 3 9387 8075

Mon-Fri 7.30 am -4.00 pm 
Sat-Sun 8.00 am – 5.00pm

View MEL: HOT OR NOT in a larger map

Lux Foundry on Urbanspoon

HOT: Brunswick Flour Mill, 337-341 Sydney Rd, Brunswick

Brunswick Flour Mill is a casual, pretension-free cafe in the heart of Sydney Road.

As their name suggests they are an artisan bakery as well as dining out venue, with loaves, cakes, pastries and ready-made sandwiches all on offer.

The all day breakfast/lunch sit down menu is not particularly fancy and frankly a bit dated (club sandwich and chicken caesar salad, anyone?) but both B and I liked what we ordered.

First off, French toast with banana and toasted pecans served with crispy bacon, maple syrup and strawberries ($14.90). This wasn’t just French toast, it was a French sandwich! Two thick slabs of eggy bread pressing together a sweet paste of banana and nuts, fried on both sides. How could you go wrong?

I would have preferred my bacon a bit crispier but it’s a small quibble. Overall the breakfast was hearty, hit all the right savoury and sweet notes and good value.

B had the Mediterranean Beef salad with couscous, rocket and roasted capsicum finished with sweet chilli mayo ($14.90). There was nothing particularly ‘Mediterranean’ about the salad except maybe the fact that it contained couscous and while a seemingly odd addition, the sweet chilli mayo worked surprisingly well with the rest of the ingredients. Again, for $14.90 good value for a huge serving.

They serve certified organic rainforest alliance coffee with a monthly single origin cup and house blend available.

The Brunswick Flour Mill isn’t the kind of cafe that will blow you away, but the food we had was simple, delicious and generously sized, while the staff were smiling and friendly. Worth a visit if you’re in the area.

For other Sydney Road cafes, try Tom Phat and Green Refectory.

Brunswick Flour Mill, 337-341 Sydney Rd, Brunswick +61 3 9078 0497

Monday – Sunday 7.30am – 5.00pm

View MEL: HOT OR NOT in a larger map

Brunswick Flour Mill on Urbanspoon

HOT: Small Block, 130 Lygon St, East Brunswick

Small Block is a cafe particularly well suited to the urban professional/hip and arty/young parents demographic of East Brunswick.

To whit:

  • attention to coffee – the blackboard shows the single origin bean of the day and gives a description of its particular qualities;
  • an extensive all-day breakfast menu which has the locals lining up on the weekends;
  • functional industrial chic decor, from the wooden tables to vintage metal and wood school chairs. The seating ranges from tables, benches and a narrow outdoor area with stools;
  • dedicated bike racks for cyclists, of whom there are many in the City of Moreland; and
  • child-friendly features such as a toy box, high chairs and change tables to cater for the Brunswick baby boom.

Local resident B and I met up for lunch during a weekday on B’s recommendation. She’d tried a lot of the items on the menu and decided on an old favourite, the Summer Breakfast – eggs on toast, avocado, spinach, persian feta and beetroot relish ($15). The waiter asked her how she wanted her eggs cooked (scrambled) – a refreshing change when menus commonly take an opposite approach and warn that there are to be no substitutions.

When I see corn fritters I inevitably order them and so it was this time – sweet corn fritters with bacon, rocket and tomato chutney ($14.50). The lunch menu also features four different sandwich fillings, a pasta of the day, a soup of the day and two burgers (lamb burger and steak sandwich).

The Summer Breakfast looked like a very satisfying vegetarian option, with a steaming mass of scrambled eggs atop a chunky piece of toast, a large hunk of feta and vibrant red relish. B gave it a thumbs up.

My corn fritters tasted just as good as they looked – densely packed corn kernels, crispy (but not too crispy) bacon, a generous handful of fresh rocket and a very sweet, almost apricot fruity, chutney.

While the tarts and cakes in the tall cabinet sounded appetising (particularly the lime syrup cake) frankly I was up for a second course – so I doubled back to the breakfast menu to order the ricotta hotcakes with saffron pears and barbados cream ($15). The hotcakes were not as fluffy and light as I would have liked (maybe it was the buckwheat flour I think they used?) but the mixture of pears and cream whipped with yoghurt and brown sugar did hit the sweet spot.

From my reading on the internets it seems that people’s experiences of the service at Small Block varies widely. I found the service to be very friendly and prompt. When I entered I was immediately asked for a coffee order and given a glass of water and when B arrived our waiter came to ask us for our order three times before we were ready because we were too busy chatting.

For other great cafes in East Brunswick, go further up the road to L’Atelier de Monsieur Truffe.

Small Block, 130 Lygon St, Brunswick East +61 3 9381 2244

Open Weekdays 8am-5pm; Weekends 8:30am-5pm

Small Block on Urbanspoon

NOT: Miss Marmalade, 126 Union St, Brunswick

This is how much I expected to love Miss Marmalade.

Monday. I borrow a car to drive through choc-a-block traffic on Alexandra Parade to meet my friend A there. On arrival, my baby vomits copiously on herself and on me. The mess is so bad that I have to drive home straight away without any lunch.

Three days later. I borrow a car to drive through choc-a-black traffic on Alexandra Parade. The second attempt at a lunch date is more successful and A and I have a great catchup while dangling babies on our knee.

But when it came down to writing this post I thought about it carefully and I have mixed feelings about Miss Marmalade.  I asked for A’s impression as well and her feelings confirmed that I hadn’t I enjoyed my meal enough to recommend it to anyone who (a) didn’t live locally (b) didn’t have kids. Frankly, it wasn’t worth special trip.

Firstly, my chai. I’ve had Calmer Sutra chai before and loved it. I’m not sure what the difference was in this version but it tasted quite weak. Pretty presentation though – love those double-sided Bodum glasses. Coffee is made with Five Senses beans.

The all day breakfast menu and lunch options all sounded so good I actually had trouble deciding what to order. In the end, I decided on a reasonably healthy option as I had a beady eye on dessert – marinated chicken salad Greek yoghurt, seeds, pomegranate with pumpkin fritters ($15.50). A ordered a toasted panini from one of a choice of five ($10.90).

Both meals came out promptly. My salad was, well, ok. The deep-fried fritters were a bit odd actually in both taste and texture, sort of like a vegetarian version of popcorn chicken. My overall impression was that it was a pretty forgettable dish, even though it contained my all-time favourite salad ingredient, pomegranate seeds. A’s sandwich was, in her words, also ok. While a sandwich is a simple thing to make, it can be done in spectacular fashion – but this one was not particularly exciting or remarkable.

Dessert was a slice of 80s-throwback peppermint crisp cheesecake. I had it sitting on the floor with our babies in the back room, which has a carpeted corner and furniture for little people with an exciting array of rattling, dangling objects in the toy box. The back room is very popular with parents groups and people with kids generally, so if you want to avoid that sort of crowd then be warned.

The cheesecake was a solid mass of baked cream cheese which felt like a heavy brick in my stomach. In fact, that’s how I would characterise all of our food that day – cooking that lacked finesse.

Not even that colourful toy box and kid-friendliness of the place could outweigh that fact for me. So I’m happy to let the parents of Brunswick have it to themselves.

I suspect I’m a dissenting voice in my assessment of Miss Marmalade – two of my reliable go-to food blogs Melbourne Gastronome and Food Rehab liked it and the Urbanspoon commenters rave about it. Maybe I should have stuck to the breakfast menu? Who knows.

Miss Marmalade, 126 Union St, Brunswick +61 3 9388 8202
Miss Marmalade on Urbanspoon

HOT: Green Refectory, 115 Sydney Rd, Brunswick

There are certain cafes that are the perfect weekend haunts for nursing a hangover.

The requisite criteria? Huge servings of hearty breakfast, lashings of coffee, nothing too fancy or complicated and good value for money.

I think one of the places that does ‘hangover food’ really well is Green Refectory – and judging by the lines at the counter on a Saturday morning, Brunswick locals agree.

Sidling past the loved-up couples in trackie-daks and gung-ho morning exercisers with their takeaway coffees, I sneaked a seat in the communal table in the front room and waited for my breakfast stack.

What arrived was an Everest of alcohol-absorbing food – a potato cake (better described as mashed potato pushed into a circular patty), grilled tomato halves, bacon, a thick hunk of haloumi, spinach and topped with a poached egg. The perfect way to start your Atkins diet for a mere $10.

The other equally popular menu item appeared to be the pancakes. It’s worth mentioning this dish even though I didn’t order it because my jaw dropped at these pancake frisbees. We’re talking huge rounds topped with berries and a whoppee cushion sized scoop of ice-cream!

Wash that down with some warming chai ($3) and you still have change left over from a twenty.

Green Refectory isn’t somewhere that I’d necessarily cross town for and fine dining it ain’t. But for nearby residents I think it’d be a reliable standby and I enjoyed my cheap and cheerful breakfast there.

For more reviews of Green Refectory, read I’m So Hungree and Miss Adriennely.

Green Refectory, 115 Sydney Rd, Brunswick +61 3 9387 1150
Green Refectory on Urbanspoon