HOT: Mio Locale 465 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy North

mio locale

Mio Locale fills a culinary and coffee gap in an odd no-man’s land section of Brunswick Street.

Fitzroy’s abundant supply of cafe and shopping scene peters out abruptly at Alexandra Parade and don’t really resume again until you hit North Fitzroy village. The new Bellini apartments have now been completed on the corner of Alexandra Parade and Brunswick Street and part of the development is Mio Locale.

mio locale

The concrete shell, decorated with black glossy tiles and brass trims, is small but welcoming. They manage to make almost all their food in house, other than the bread which comes from Dench Bakers in North Fitzroy.

mio locale

mio locale

The owners are a sister-brother team of Italian heritage and they pride themselves on sourcing local produce, using fresh, seasonal ingredients for their breakfast and lunch menu.

This translates to a small menu of accessible cafe dishes with an Italian twist, generously portioned, and brought to your table with a smile. I was invited to try the cafe with my family.

mio locale

To start we had a pear and cinnamon smoothie and a yoghurt-based berry smoothie. Both sweet and filling and enough of a meal on their own.

mio locale

The creamy and nutty coffee came from Strada Coffee and they source their tea from organic Chamellia Tea.

mio locale

For something simple, done well, go for the Fancy Pants Toastie ($13). It’s an melting ham and cheese toasted sandwich, crowed with a fried egg and with the crusts neatly lopped off. A dab of housemade relish rests on the side. Personally I prefer crusty sandwiches so I’m sure you can just ask for them to keep the crusts on!

mio locale

I decided to choose the heartier dish of chickpeas with Calabrian salami, sugo, spinach and garum ($16). It was full of punchy, vibrant flavours and exactly the kind of dish best finish with a mopping of bread. It kept me going for most of the day, though if you’re looking for extra protein you can choose to add a poached egg.

mio locale

mio locale

The pastries, cakes and biscuits are all house made and I just fell in love with the huge yo-yos filled with mocha cream, a steal at $2.50.

Mio Locale is just a stone’s throw from picnic hotspot Edinburgh Gardens, so it’s fitting that they provide picnic packs for those who don’t fancy catering their own spread. They are also waiting on a liquor licence so that they can start opening in the evening to turn Mio Locale into a wine bar.

I wish Mio Locale was my local! But lucky northsiders can enjoy it seven days a week.

Mio Locale, 465 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy North 03 9489 4747

Mon-Fri 7am-4pm

Sat-Sun 8am-4pm

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HOT: Ashkelon Food Store, 321 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

Ashkelon Food Store, 321 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

I wished my kitchen looked like Ashkelon.


The thing that first draws your eye when you enter this single-room cafe/foodstore is the floor-to-ceiling plywood shelves. Each nook is laden with neatly lined and labelled jars of housemade condiments, crinkly packets of granola, pasta and grains and an overflowing hessian-lined basket of organic lemons. The wall of abundance is not just for decorative purposes either – everything can be purchased and cooked at home.

Ashkelon Food Store, 321 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

Then I cast my eye to the counter and spot the large ornate tiered setting filled with vanilla ice, Miss Louise cake (apparently a NZ favourite), freshly-made crusty-bread braised pork, apple and fennel slaw sandwiches. It’s time for lunch!


Ashkelon Food Store, 321 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North


Ashkelon Food Store, 321 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

There are flip-top glass jars with different mueslis and even a cast iron vessel full of organic walnuts for sale.

Ashkelon Food Store, 321 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

Ashkelon Food Store, 321 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

All that food is just so damn photogenic! And it’s all prepared in house with local, fresh and seasonal ingredients.

Ashkelon Food Store, 321 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

I sit down and enjoy a mixed plate of salad ($12.90) with a combination of each of the three daily salads. There’s a light freekeh mix with roast sweet potato, another roast vegetable number with straggly little Dutch carrots that I love and my favourite, potatoes with white anchovies, artichokes and some herbaceous coriander pesto (which unfortunately is one of the few things that isn’t for separate sale at the moment). The lunch menu changes daily with a choice of ciabatta or sandwich, socca (a chickpea flour flatbread for those with gluten intolerances), salad, soup, savoury tart, pie and cake. Their coffee is a special blend made for them by Eureka.

For those on the run or with an empty pantry the fridge holds more wholesome takeaway meals. It is high end takeaway – a two person serving of say slow-cooked pork with beans will cost around $23, except for the surprisingly good value (and delicious) spring vegetable bake of zucchini, pumpkin, lentils and scarmoza which could easily feed 3 people for $13.80.

Ashkelon‘s online ordering system will be up and running soon and apparently in a few weeks they will be launching their delivery service so you can try their nutritious, slow-cooked food without leaving your home. Though that would almost be a shame, because a visit to Ashkelon is like a trip to your dream pantry – orderly, well-stocked, delicious, fresh, healthy and inspiring.

Ashkelon Food Store321 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North 0498 003 212
Mon–Fri 8am–7pm

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HOT: Munsterhaus, 371 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

Apparently, the highest day for gym attendance is Monday. It makes sense – after a weekend of excess you wake up vowing that the beginning of a new week means the beginning of the new, healthier you.

I wonder if the same trend applies to vegetarian restaurants? Because certainly on my lunch visit to Munsterhaus the place was surprisingly full for a Monday.

It probably helps that the cafe is located in the gentrified hipster enclave of North Fitzroy, that the food is fresh and flavoursome, the portions are generous and the staff are friendly. The handsome interior is fitted out like a retro Art Deco cafeteria, with functional laminate topped wooden tables parked with classroom chairs, window seats for singles and an expanse of glassed-in wooden bench which showcases a smorgasbord of vegetarian and vegan dishes, mostly with Asian flavours.

You then select the plate size you want – small, medium, large – and the server will pile up your plate with as many items as you can cram in (one size takeaway is also available). Or you can choose to have a whole bowl of brussels sprouts if you like!

My choices included a too-dry brown rice slice, honey/soy/sesame tempeh crisps with broccoli, a mildy spicy chilli jam fried tofu, some quinoa salad, a chickpea, cucumber, spinach and feta salad which I’m going to try and replicate at home and my favourite, an Asian sweet potato noodle salad bouncing with peanuts, carrots, bean sprouts and shiitake. You can also select some home made dips to top off your plate and the waitress recommended the tofu dip which was similar to a cream cheese in flavour.

As you can see, even the $10 small plate/bowl is generously proportioned so I recommend that size unless you’re sharing with someone else. Fill your stomach with that much tofu, quinoa and brown rice, wash it down with help-yourself filtered water, and I guarantee that you’ll be rolling out the door.

However, in the name of research I also tried the poached pear and raspberry tart ($6) which came with a dollop of yoghurt or commercial vanilla icecream. There was a very faint hint of an undefinable spice which lifted it beyond a standard cake, and certainly after such a large slice I was ready to loosen my belt.

I’ll definitely return to Munsterhaus – can’t go wrong with a place that serves fresh, healthy food in whatever combination you like, in whatever quantities you like. For vegetarian/vegan food served with a similar concept, try The Tofu Shop International in Richmond.

Munsterhaus, 371 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North +61 3 9489 4420
Mon-Thu 9am-4.30pm
Fri-Sat 9am-8pm

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HOT: Two Bob, 270 Queens Pde, Fitzroy North

So here’s my two bob on Two Bob.

The café is an airy, high-ceilinged transformation of a former bank (remnants of the secured bank vault are still there) based in leafy North Fitzroy/Clifton Hill. Inside it’s all white and blonde wood with a few dashes of greenery here and there. Very calming and Scandi-chic.

Two Bob is a daytime venue and their breakfast menu is something to behold. The kind of list of breakfast classics-with-a-twist which makes it impossible to choose…until you flip over to the reverse side of the menu and discover the equally tempting lunch menu.

Paralysed by indecision by the time the waitress arrived the five of us ended up with 2 x steak sandwiches, 1 x slow cooked baked beans and ham hock cassoulet, 1 x crumbed poached eggs and 1 x ocean trout. A balanced menu traverse between breakfast and lunch, filling and light, hot and cold.

My slow-cooked cassoulet arrived with hearty chunks of meat, a poached egg floating on top, a sprinkling of feta and coriander and a hunk of multigrain toast ($16.50). A solid dish and the kind that soothes you with its familiarity.

M said that his crumbed poached eggs ($16.50) were very slightly overcooked and he actually didn’t enjoy the crumb very much as the frying gave the eggs an oily coating that lingered on the tongue. However the grilled asparagus and floret of smoked salmon got a thumbs up (but really they aren’t ingredients you can stuff up).

The baked miso ocean trout came with a cold noodle salad, Asian coleslaw and a sweet-sour tamarind dressing ($18). Perfect as a lighter choice if you’re not feeling so hungry but J definitely got food envy (as did everyone) from the winning dish at our table, the steak sandwiches ($17.50).

Mainly because of the presence of fried onion rings – we all went ‘wow’ when we saw those! The black Angus steak was carefully grilled and combined with a traditional filling of cheese, tomato, rocket plus some sweet beetroot relish and dijonaise instead of mayonnaise. A two-hander of a sandwich full of smashing colours and textures.

For dessert we each had a pick of the very moist carrot cake topped with a light cream cheese and walnut frosting ($5) which by itself, along with that steak sandwich, is worth returning to Two Bob.

While Two Bob is not pushing any major gastronomical boundaries it does what it does well, without fuss and pretence and with care in the use of ingredients and presentation.  I used to frequent the owners’ former cafe in Brisbane (Cirque) and Two Bob is definitely an extension of a winning formula.

For other great cafes in North Fitzroy, try Mitte and Mixed Business.

Two Bob, 270 Queens Pde, Fitzroy North +61 3 9482 5444

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HOT: Marmalade and Soul, 162 Queens Pde, North Fitzroy

What I love about Melbourne is that you can be going about your everyday mundaneness then bam! There’s a brand new cafe/restaurant right on your doorstep.

So it was I was trekking to the bank, chemist and Officeworks when I took a double-take. What used to be the Recreation Hotel has been transformed into Marmalade and Soul, a new project by Raymond Capaldi from Hare & Grace.

The corner building has been scrubbed of its pub roots and a homely country-kitchen style cafe/restaurant installed in its place. Marmalade and Soul will be all-day affair, with a British-leaning breakfast menu, lunch at 12pm then dinner starting soon on Thu, Fri and Sat nights.

It’s not really the done thing to review a premises on its very first day (with the lunch menu literally coming straight off the printer into my hands) so you can take any comments I make with that knowledge in mind.

I never visited the Recreation Hotel but the new fitout is artistic and cute and makes the most of showing off the fresh produce used in the kitchen. Huge wire baskets hold Christmas baubles of red capsicums, lemons and oranges and a bushy bunch of rosemary becomes a fragrant centrepiece.

Wooden spoons are turned into chandeliers (twee but it works) and the sweets display is gorgeous – rosewater and passionfruit marshmallow, fist-sized meringues and jagged bricks of honeycomb jostle for space amongst the cookies and muffins.

The waitstaff were still finding their spots but still the service impeccably friendly – not just serving me the usual glass of water when seated but asking whether I wanted some papers to read when they could see that I had my hands full. Much appreciated.

The lunch menu is curious and not the kind of home-style comfort cooking I was expecting from the restaurant’s name. Besides a selection of ready made sandwiches there are ‘Composites’ and ‘Principals’ –  presumably a split of entree/shared plates and mains. Japanese French, Italian cuisines all take a turn in an interesting and complex-sounding range of dishes – as far away from chicken parma as you can get.

I chose the pave of confit salmon with brown rice, spring onion and green tea broth ($24). The dish was beautifully presented, the salmon sweetly tender and the flavours fresh – but it wasn’t particularly thrilling, just very clean and healthful (great if you’re on a diet, which I’m not). And calling a rectangular piece of seared salmon a ‘pave‘ is a bit of unnecessary pomposity frankly.

So why does Marmalade and Soul still get a HOT? Because my curiosity has been piqued by the avant-garde menu. There are six composites and eight principals, with at least a handful of ingredients and terms I’m not familiar with. From my brief glance at their breakfast menu there are a couple of standout dishes amongst the eggs and muesli including my new favourite breakfast dish, kedgeree. The space is gorgeous and people are friendly and it’s so shiny new it’s not so busy…yet.

 Marmalade and Soul, 162 Queens Pde, North Fitzroy

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HOT: Annoying Brother Espresso + Kitchen, 650 Nicholson St, North Fitzroy

Do you have a brother?

Does he make you coffee? Cook you eggs? Bake you muffins?

If he’s an annoying brother, then he might just do so.

Annoying Brother Espresso + Kitchen is a small new cafe that’s opened on the southern end of Nicholson St village on the corner of Bik Lane. I have no idea about the origins of the name but it’s catchy and I like the on-theme blackboard cartoon that comprises part of the cafe’s decor.

During my weekday visit it was popular with nearby office workers and most curiously, Irish construction workers in fluorescent orange vests! Guess there must be a site nearby and who’s to say that they don’t deserve better than builders tea?

As the name suggests, the cafe specialises in coffee – they roast and grind their own beans and there’s a rotating menu of blends to try. I have it on good authority from Miss Kish that the coffee is excellent! The food menu is a short affair of about a dozen breakfast items made from locally sourced ingredients – eggs, pancakes, muesli – and a handful of ‘lunchie’ things – a steak sandwich, fritters.

I love dukkah eggs when I see them on a menu and this version was two jolly poached eggs sitting atop a tomato and red capsicum chunky salsa, fresh spinach greens and sprinkled with spice mix ($14.50). I don’t usually comment too much about toast  (it’s just a base for toppings a lot of the time) but this bread was remarkable for its inability to yield to a steak knife. Absolutely rock hard and inedible.

I requested a side of buttered thyme mushrooms ($3.50) which was the opposite of the bread – soft, juicy, buttery and moreish. Next time I might go the Tetris instead –  a build-your-own breakfast of eggs done how you like with a choice of sides including the magnificent mushrooms.

For sweet things I had three house made options – banana bread, muffin and cookie. After asking the owner what he recommended I went with his favourite – the raspberry and white chocolate muffin.

As he took my plate away he asked me how he liked my breakfast and I was honest – I said the eggs were great but the bread was really hard and dry. He apologised, explaining that the sourdough was fresh yesterday but had hardened overnight, and then to my surprise when he brought out the muffin on the wooden platter he said that it was on the house. A small gesture but that’s the way to treat your customers – surprise and delight.

The muffin was a just-baked soft and fluffy ending, filled with gooey chocolate and oozing raspberries (and served with a pat of butter. Really? People put butter on top on their buttery, sugary, muffin?). On par with the muffins from Proud Mary, which I consider in my muffin-eating experience to be the best in Melbourne. Muffins that are definitely worth a return visit, gratis or not.

For other great cafes in North Fitzroy, try Mitte and Mixed Business.

Annoying Brother Espresso, 660 Nicholson St, North Fitzroy +61 3 9482 9494
Mon-Fri 7am – 4pm
Sat-Sun 8:30am – 4pm

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HOT: Mitte, 76 Michael Street (cnr Rowe Street), North Fitzroy

I’m not sure whether Mitte is named after the district in Berlin and the German word for ‘middle’ but let’s just say at the outset that there are no German references in the menu, decor or service of this neighbourhood cafe.

It’s in a little hideaway location on the corner of two residential streets in North Fitzroy and serves breakfast and lunches to a loyal local crowd, who sit inside the cosy interior or spread out on the outdoor pavement tables.

I parked myself on the bench on the sunny side of the street and was immediately greeted with a smile, a menu and a request for a drink order. Having puffed my way up the street on my bike the homemade ginger and mint refresher caught my eye ($6) and while I debated whether to have breakfast or lunch at 11am a tall tumbler of icy mixture of ginger beer, fresh mint and soda water arrived. A delicious variation on the ubiquitous commercial soft drinks.

Hedging my bets on the menu, I decided to try the Middle Eastern style meatballs from the lunch menu ($17) and breakfast crumble from the breakfast menu ($10).

The meatballs, an interesting combination of toasted pistachio, fig and spices, came drenched in a rich tomato sauce and were perfect smeared with yoghurt and a nibble of coriander. The Dench sourdough was best used for mopping up the leftovers – you’ll want to lick that bowl clean.

If you like sweet breakfasts (or a lunch dessert) then I highly recommend the breakfast crumble. This would be better termed the ‘anytime crumble’ because I’d eat it at any time of day! The generous bowl of sticky vanilla and cinnamon poached pears and apples topped with a sweet granola crumble and a dollop of marscapone has guaranteed Mitte a return visit.

For other breakfast/brunch/lunch venues in North Fitzroy, try The Green Grocer and Mixed Business.

Mitte, 76 Michael Street (cnr Rowe Street), North Fitzroy

Mon,Wed-Fri 7:30am-4:30pm

Weekends 8am-4:30pm

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HOT: Queen Margaret, 356 Queens Pde, North Fitzroy

The pizzeria Queen Margaret is not named as a reference to QEII’s sister, but to Queen Margherita of Savoy, the first Queen of the united Italy and for whom the magherita pizza was named.

Queen Margaret boasts eighteen (!) pizza varieties on its chalkboard menu, spearheaded by not just one but three riffs on the classic tomato, mozzarella and basil margherita pizza.

My Italian friend tells me that the only way to judge a pizzeria is by its margherita, but I’m actually not such a fan of it myself so I’ll leave someone else (namely Melbourne Gastronome, who was sitting at the next table) to report back on the comparative qualities of the three margheritas.

Instead, our table of three ordered three pizzas – Sock it To Me (tomato, hot salami, mozzarella, olives, roasted peppers $17), Easy Tiger (tomato, prawns, fior di latte, chilli, cherry tomatoes, basil $18) and Just Magic (mushrooms, thyme, pancetta, mozzarella $18) plus the QM Salad of rocket, pear, fennel, parmesan, wanuts and balsamic dressing to share.

The pizzas came out promptly and hooray! presliced. I loved the heady aroma of the earthy mushrooms and crispy pancetta on the Just Magic and the prawn pizza had a satisfying chilli heat to it, compared to the hot salami which wasn’t very hot at all.

As for the bases, they had the bubbly misshapen texture that I like and a base that held the fresh ingredients without turning into a soggy mess. However, if I’m nit-picking the  base was a little too bready – I prefer a bit more chew to my dough (my pizza gold standard is still Ladro and Supermaxi). Having a glance around at other diners it seemed that most people had also left the puffy crusts on their plate.

Our salad was deliciously fresh through relatively pricey at $9.50 for a small bowl given that the pizzas range from a very reasonable $15 to $19.  If you must eat something green with your meal you might be better off with spinach, greens and lemon for $6. For those who don’t want pizza there are two non-pizza option – lasagna al forno or a spinach and ricotta agnolotti with tomato sauce (both $18). They also cater for those who can’t eat the wheat-based pizza bases with gluten-free pizza at an extra $2.

Although I think we could have quite happily skipped dessert, a bit of pressure from the blogger at the table decided that we’d share two desserts – a flourless chocolate cake with sour cherry and coconut ice-cream and an apple galette with rum raisin ice-cream (both $12). While both sweets were quite good they were not remarkable and I think if your appetite is not up to it the desserts are not a must-do. The rum raisin icecream was missing a lot of the rich rum flavour and the chocolate cake was a fairly standard affair.

The restaurant was buzzy and casual on a Friday night, full of friends, families and local couples. Service was prompt, though our sweet waitress seemed a little unexperienced and unsure of herself – I’m sure time will cure that.

Our total bill came to a very reasonable $30 a head without drinks and we walked out with bellies extremely full, with much talk of unbuttoning waistlines and having a lie-down.

Queen Margaret, 356 Queens Pde, North Fitzroy +61 3 9482 5988
Tue-Sun 5pm – late
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HOT: Victoria in a Bento Box, Matteo’s Restaurant, 533 Brunswick St, North Fitzroy

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival doesn’t just run events for two weeks in March – the rest of the year they promote food and wine with themes and events such as the Spring Graze.

The Spring Graze is a gathering of more than 60 events throughout September across Victoria, all with the theme of celebrating the new season and to promote the Put Victoria on Your Table philosophy by showcasing Victorian produce.

At Matteo’s, their event is called Victoria in a Bento Box and it’s a lunch special of seven tastes of Victoria plus a glass of wine for $44.

Matteo’s is a restaurant which definitely brings truth to the adage ‘don’t judge a book (or restaurant) by its cover’. The name conjures up a traditional Italian trattoria, the sumptious flocked wallpaper, fine crystal glassware and starched tableclothes seem to indicate a high-end European restaurant – and yet the food is Asian fusion.

And it’s brilliant. Surprising, innovative, sophisticated, delicious. Oh!

Our ‘bento box’ consisted of a large platter lined with a banana leaf and placed with winsome Japanese ceramic bowls containing the following tastes:

Coconut laksa and banana blossom soup, mini sesame prawn brioche toast – with the seafood hailing from Warranambool. This was a soothing, fragrant soup and the prawn toast added an interesting textural dimension – it was almost like a dumpling. One of my favourites.

Steamed chawan mushi custard, sake poached drunken Lilydale chicken, gingko nuts and soya beans. The chicken was really drunk, to the point of being overpowering, but I like the addition of the gingko nuts in the ultra-smooth steamed custard.

Kim chi spicy picked wombok cabbage using wombok from the market gardens of Werribee. I’m not a fan of kimchi normally (limp pickled cabbage ugh) but I liked this crisp julienned version. A modern take on a classic Korean dish.

Inari bean curd filled with coconut rice from Kerang, spring onion and ginger. I loved this! I’d describe it as a  sweet rice pudding dessert hidden under a savoury bean curd hood. Really unexpected flavours but it worked.

Teriyaki glazed Skipton smoked eel, boiled egg and potato, pickled plum and bonito mayonnaise. The pickles cut through the richness of the teriyaki sauce and the eel was perfectly cooked – not rubbery at all.

Pork kakuni slow cooked master stock Buninyong pork belly, pork crackling, Japanese mustard sauce. As we were given chopsticks and not knives and forks, the meat had to be so tender that it could be shredded with one hand. It passed the test with flying colours. I also appreciated how the crackling had been turned into a coarse dust – so that you didn’t have to wrestle with it using only chopsticks. Clever.

For dessert, black sesame creme caramel, pear cider and cinnamon poached nashi pear from Mildura. Anything black sesame is a winner with me and this smooth baked custard had just the right hint of almost savoury sesame underneath the sweet caramel. The still crunchy cubes of nashi cut through the richness, leaving a refreshing sweetness on the palate. I think I’m going to try and replicate this dish (somehow) at home.

Matteo’s Victoria in a Bento Box is available until 30 September, Monday – Friday lunch. Their usual lunch special is also $44 with a choice of two courses and a glass of wine.

For more fine dining in Fitzroy, try Cutler & Co.

Matteo’s, 533 Brunswick St, North Fitzroy +61 3 9481 1177
Sunday-Friday 12-3pm
Daily 6-10pm

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NOT: Julio, 171 Miller St, Fitzroy North

Last week The Age’s Melbourne Magazine published its list of top 30 Melbourne cafes. Obviously such a list is going to create some controversy  but as I scanned the names I nodded in agreement with most of their choices. Then I got out my diary to make a note of the cafes that I had yet to visit and made a date with myself at Julio.

North Fitzroy is very close to where I live, so I was surprised that I’d never heard of Julio – I thought I’d pretty much covered the suburb before. It’s a little cornershop premises overlooking  Merri Creek Primary School on a residential street and as I pulled up to the brightly coloured outdoor tables on my bike I thought that Julio could become my go-to lunch stop off the Merri Creek bike trail.

The Melbourne Magazine article said that they judged the cafes on the standard of coffee, service and an ‘x factor’, though in their little blurbs they often described the quality of the food  as well. Not being a coffee drinker I can’t say anything about their coffee (though I noticed they use an impressively shiny La Marzocco machine), but yes I agree that the service was friendly and welcoming and the place was cool enough to fit into its inner city locale without being so hip as to be intimidating. Cue vintage schoolyard furniture, high communal tables and a retro rotation of tunes – the cafe is named after a Paul Simon song ‘Me and Julio down by the schoolyard’.

The Melbourne Magazine also got it right that it’s great for kids – there are games and storybooks available to amuse the little ones and the menu has plenty of kid-friendly choices. I imagine they get a lot of business from parents of the nearby school doing the school run.

So….why have I given Julios a NOT? Basically because I didn’t like the food. For lunch I had baked eggs with chorizo, peas and coriander ($14) and the ceramic dish that came out contained a tomato/chorizo mixture with a pair of cock-eyed eggs – as you can see, one with a soft yolk and the other with a yolk cooked to a solid ball. I also thought the whole dish was thirst-inducing salty though I’m not sure whether it was the chorizo’s fault or whether the dish had been overseasoned. (I actually replicated the dish the next day in my own kitchen just to see whether I could get the eggs and seasoning right and frankly enjoyed my version much more).

Reserving judgement for the moment I moved onto the quince and almond tart ($6). I like almonds but this tart was too nutty and dry and it contained the merest smear of quince. If you had told me that there was nothing involved other than crushed up nuts and melted butter pressed into a tart shape I’d have believed you.

So overall, a disappointing experience. I’m a little perplexed by what I’ve missed that The Melbourne Magazine loved so much and I’m sure I’ll receive comments rising to Julio’s defence. If I lived around the corner, then I would probably return to Julio purely for convenience. But was it worth my 20 minute bike ride to get there and would I recommend it to my friends? Probably not.

The Melbourne Magazine also listed the following places which I’ve reviewed as HOT previously and which I wholeheartedly recommend: Proud Mary, Three Bags Full, Coin Laundry, Monk Bodhi Dharma, Auction Rooms, Penny Farthing Espresso, The Hardware Societe, Liasion, St Ali, Coffee Darling and Pillar of Salt.

  • Julio, 171 Miller St, Fitzroy North +61 3 9489 7814

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