The string of eateries that line Domain Road as it skirts the perimeter of the Tan, Melbourne’s premier walking and jogging arena, offer excellent options for the fit and the fabulous to refuel.
A recent addition to the cluster is Gilson, courtesy of Jamie and Loren McBride, who brought us cafes Mammoth and Barry.
Early Saturday morning sees the place abuzz. Runners high on endorphins rip into poached eggs while parents plead with toddlers. Older folk drain coffee cups and brush away croissant flakes while staff dodge busily about the room. This relaxed business takes place in an interior that’s South Yarra bistro chic, with marble tables, wicker chairs and a peppy, powder-pink-and-white colour scheme. There’s outside seating, too, for you and your four-pawed friend to drink in the leafy parkside views.
Whether you’ve thrice looped the Tan or barely managed the 20-metre stagger from your car, brunch here reliably triggers its own kind of good eating endorphins. Gilson’s baked eggs – a green variation on the tomato-based shakshuka – is fresh and generous. Two eggs, runny yolked and with a good wobble to the white, are baked into a verdant kale and broccoli stew that’s pitted with pistachio and sesame dukkah for a spicy crunch and strewn with creamy feta.
Kids might turn their noses up at fish for brekkie but more fool them – the garfish on toast is a winner. A wood oven-toasted hunk of sourdough wears a thick layer of silky eggplant puree whose light, vinegary tang is a pleasant surprise. Tinned garfish (much like a tinned sardine) and dollops of aioli sit neatly on top, alongside sprigs of dill for an aniseed freshness.
Sweet pastries emit seductive signals to your dessert radar from the counter. Take the building lactic acid in your thighs as a sign you earned that sugar-coated doughnut loaded with velvety custard and rhubarb jam (the latter just a few degrees too sweet), or a chewy cookie packed with hazelnuts, macadamia and chocolate chunks.
Balanced Seven Seeds coffee fills in the gaps as Gilson expertly shepherds you from your AM avo toast to your PM pommes frites and steak. Stop in for a parkside Spritz in the afternoon – they know how to do ‘the Turn’ here.