14 November 2010
Friends of Mine @ 506 Swan Street, Richmond
The owners of Snow Pony and Porgie + Mr Jones have recently expanded their café portfolio to include the Richmond based Friends of Mine. The eclectic charm of this newly opened café will be familiar to those who have dined at its sister establishments. That being said, the establishment’s juxtaposition of contemporary café – wooden benches, high stools and ceiling suspended lighting – and old-school bistro dining – carpeted floors, tablecloths and antique mirrors – does seem somewhat mismatched.
Friends of Mine has succeeded in crafting a convivial atmosphere in which to enjoy a lazy weekend brunch. At the beginning of your meal, you will be greeted with an endearing message of “you are beautiful xo” on the back of your menu while cheerful chalkboard messages will provide light entertainment as you wait for your food. Most importantly, friendly and hospitable wait staff will be at your service throughout your meal.
The “Pick. Me. Up. Please” is a delicious breakfast burger, its miniature size making it suitable for a quick breakfast fix or as an appetiser to your breakfast main – it was served as the latter in our instance. Couched between the soft sesame buns are your quintessential breakfast staples – porky bacon rashers and “dreamy” scrambled eggs. With the added slice of melted Maffra farmhouse cheddar, a squirt of mustard mayonnaise and beautifully tangy homemade tomato chutney, this breakfast burger could not be more complete.
My conventional breakfast practice is to order a smoked salmon dish. Understandably, it has become my metric for evaluating a breakfast establishment. The “Tom Coopers Smoked Salmon” was pleasant but was certainly not spectacular. The smoked salmon was fresh, the avocado was creamy and the egg was perfectly poached – all flawless perhaps, but reality is that these are basic components you will find in any half-decent dish of this sort. It is the other elements of the dish that will often differentiate – in this case, the crumbly textured cornbread and the vapid herbed cream fraiche did nothing to win me over.
BC’s conventional breakfast practice is to order the big breakfast with the lot – being unavailable on the menu at Friends of Mine, BC opted to customise his own. Two perfectly fried eggs were succulently seasoned with rashers of double smoked bacon and accompanied with a juicy roasted tomato. The highlight of the dish was the grilled bread which had a remarkably crunchy yet chewy crust. In all, this dish was a respectable assembly of breakfast essentials save for the imprudent serve of botched Casa Iberico chorizo which resembled overcooked leathery jerky.
Melbourne has an ever growing brunch culture, making the café industry a particularly competitive and vibrant one. Friends of Mine may serve above average food, but it fails to make the cut when there are places such as APTE, Three Bags Full, Tom Phat and Mart 130 serving superior brunch offerings at cheaper prices.