Think outside the cereal box at Naughty Boy, Lygon Street's inventive new breakfast spot
Naughty Boy: named, we think, for its small but rebellious menu. Reckon you've got the cojones to take on beef-shin 'bolognese' gnocchi or a mighty soft-shell crab burger for breakfast? You've come to the right place.
Scorning smashed avo on toast and other pre-noon stalwarts, Naughty Boy steers you into unfamiliar breakfast waters: falafel pides, knuckle sandwiches (crumbled beef knuckle and buffalo mozzarella, not a punch in the chops) and sweetcorn-and-jalapeño fritters. Purists can relax, though. There's also noisette fruit toast (pepped up with orange-zest butter, mind), bircher muesli and ‘I just want some eggs’.
The menu is small, but the space is cavernous. Yes, there are mismatched vintage chairs, op shop-sourced tiles and random swathes of exposed brick where the owners took a jackhammer to the walls, but there’s polish, too. Sugar cube-white walls, lofty ceilings, pot plants and views of leafy Lygon Street from the vast windows put a slick spin on industrial styling. And just look at the statement lights, hand-crafted by the owners: filament bulbs, set in milk crates and hanging from beams.
Naughty Boy is brought to you by the guys behind Flemington breakfast-hub Mama Bear – Ashley De’Hartman and Daniel Katz – who describe themselves as “hospitality hard-nuts having fun”. Judging by the menu, chef Mark Wallen (another Mama Bear export, previously at Pint of Milk) jumped on the fun-wagon, too.
Saucer-sized ricotta hotcakes come triple-stacked, heaped with fat spiced blackberries, raspberries and cranberries, drizzled with burnt maple syrup and served with a dollop of lemon-and-saffron curd, which is citrus-sweet, cold as sorbet and the size of a golf ball. Little tendrils of cress top this buttery, cinnamon sugar hit.
The soft-shell crab burger arrives in two separate sliders, skewered together with a stick into one monster crab-shaped ‘burger’, orange-gold claws poking out on either side. These little pincers are salty, crisp and covered in whisper-thin batter, dressed with kewpie mayo, coriander, crunchy black sesame seeds, sesame oil and heat-packing Vietnamese mint. One suggestion though, chef: those slivers of grated carrot might be better pickled, or splashed with fish sauce – some sour-sweet notes would finish this dish off nicely. Thin-cut fries are served in a fry basket, with chunky, smoky house-made ketchup on the side. File under hangover food.
On a quiet weekday afternoon, staff are clearly enjoying the soundtrack of '90s R&B as much as we are – singing wafts from the kitchen. The music is played at low volume, mind, in keeping with the café’s airy serenity. Loyal freelancers make the most of the free Wi-Fi at the communal tables, and families attack fist-sized bacon-and-avo-stuffed pides in the main room.
The owners have just started Slow Sundays: a $25 roast (the meat will change weekly, and there'll be a veggie option, too) served between noon and 4pm. They’re fully licensed so you might as well have wine with your roast, too. Experimental breakfasts: tick; classic Sunday sessions: tick again.
Naughty Boy – not so naughty after all.
|Venue name:||Naughty Boy|
499-501 Lygon Street
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 7.30am-4pm; Sat, Sun 8am-4pm|