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

Julio on Urbanspoon

Related Posts with Thumbnails

10 thoughts on “NOT: Julio, 171 Miller St, Fitzroy North

  1. Interesting that the MM said up front that St Ali was the best but didn’t feature it in the article. I think this is now on my list as my new exercise regime is to walk to cafes, bars and restaurants rather than sit on my doorstep.

  2. It is a shame you didn’t like Julio’s. I think it is a fantastic place. I have always had great food there too – usually interesting dishes with different flavours.

  3. Wow – each to their own, but I heartily disagree on this one. Julio is one of my locals and every time I go I can’t go past the baked eggs with chorizo and peas – which I LOVE. So much so that I never order anything else. Their portuguese tarts are awesome too. Am sorry you felt the need to “Not” Julio – I think you might be in the minority here …

    • Hi Christy

      Thanks for your comment. Glad to hear that you enjoy Julio – I was all prepared to HOT it given The Melbourne Magazine’s review but sadly didn’t enjoy my experience enough. Fully admit that I might be in the minority though!

      Jetsetting Joyce

  4. Hi Joyce,

    I live so close to Julio it’s not funny, but it always lets me down. I want to love it, but I can’t. The Chorizo with eggs and peas has been on the menu since they started, and it’s not good.

    The bread with quince paste and manchego is just that … unimaginative and quite tasteless.

    Some of their cakes are quite nice, but their coffee isn’t good enough to bother.


  5. oh and they purvey my most disliked cafe-ism.

    They claim “rosti” on their menu, but it’s really a mashed potato patty .. sooo disappointing.

    I understand that their kitchen is limited, but other places nearby do a better job with their food.

    Obviously the school mums & dads like it, but it doesn’t work for me.

    • Hi Essjayeats

      Thanks for your comment – I guess Julio’s is very much ‘each to their own’. I feel a bit the same way – I want to love it (because other people seem to love it) but I couldn’t in all honesty recommend it based on my experience.

      Jetsetting Joyce

  6. Interesting that this reviewer of cafes doesn’t drink coffee. I myself don’t drink coffee but I don’t go around reviewing cafes.
    I agree that the food isn’t the best, but the toasted sandwiches are great

    • Hi Hueblanes

      Thanks for your comment. Yes it is a quirk that I review cafes but don’t drink coffee, but I always make it clear that I rate a cafe on the other aspects (which I believe are just as, if not more, important) – food, service, ambience. Even if I did drink coffee I’m not convinced that an excellent coffee outweighs so-so food. I just couldn’t get excited enough about Julio to recommend it to others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *