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Restaurants Carlton
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that venues remain open.

This new Carlton café is bringing the bounty of the Victorian pastures to your plate

Though the vast majority of Carlton’s daylight snack action may be found further south on and around Lygon Street, sometimes good things set up in the least likely locations: such as a genteel café opening up under the shiny new Rathdowne Place retirement complex.

They may not have had any control over the boxy layout of the space, but this is no utilitarian canteen. Timber veggie gardens painted a jaunty shade of yellow frame the outdoor seating; elegant charcoal tables and white bentwood chairs litter the timber floors; and the polished concrete walls are brightened up by colourful fruit prints and stands laden with local honey, jams and preserves. You can even buy farm fresh eggs here.

Warm up your engine with gentle, almost-sweet espresso extracted from Code Black beans from Brunswick. Too hot for that kind of caper? Cool things down with a bottle of Good Brew kombucha for some fermented fizz. Need more liquid refreshment? The green smoothie here is a mighty melange of kale, cucumber, chia seeds, strawberries, ginger, lemon and coconut water, but if you prefer a breakfast beverage you can drink with a straw rather than eat with a spoon, order the breakfast smoothie – it’s healthy food in a tasty disguise. A clever mix of almond milk and oats gives it the creamy quality of a traditional dairy smoothie while keeping it vegan-friendly, and the combination of banana, blueberries and dates is sweet enough on its own.

By not being in the thick of things this café ticks the ease-of-use boxes. Parking is a cinch, service is friendly and unharried and you don’t need to queue for a table. Only your own indecision can delay your breakfast, so let us help you out. You want to order the smoked trout breakfast. A big potato pancake comes with a crown of smoky trout flakes resplendent with two perfectly poached eggs on top and a lemony hollandaise to tie it all together.

For more crunch with your morning meal the pumpkin and lentil fritters are more like crisp felafels than vegetable pancakes. The little spiced balls of nutty lentils and shredded pumpkin need a bigger dose of the sweet tomato relish and coconut milk yogurt to balance the plate, but thanks to a hefty side of mixed leaves and herbs dressed in lemon and olive oil, it certainly feels like a virtuous choice.

If you haven’t quite managed to hit the farmers’ markets in time for your weekend brekky, the gang here have your back. They champion the Victorian cornucopia across their menus, even when it’s something as simple as toast and eggs sourced from the Myrrhee Valley. When it comes to kicking your weekend off right, things turn out best when left to Providence.

By: Emily Lloyd-Tait



Address: 497 Rathdowne St
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 7am-4pm; Sun 8.30am-4pm
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