It’s all about fritters, not footwear, at Bootsdarling, the little corner café that’s set up shop on South Dowling Street. One is a creamy, cheesy, zucchini, corn and ricotta fritter amped up with parmesan and topped with thick-cut bacon and a poached egg. Or there’s a heavily spiced pumpkin and grated-carrot fritter crowned with hummus, roast roma tomatoes, cucumber ribbons and salsa verde. One is vegan-friendly and the other really isn’t.
It’s a tiny operation here and it’s run like a Swiss watch to the tune of Led Zeppelin, the White Stripes and the Black Keys. The barista is extracting a strong, sweet shot from the house blend roasted by Baily Coffee in North Melbourne. It’s good long and short so order it anyway you like. The two girls on the floor are fleet of foot, handing out jars of extra-pulpy orange juice from Simon Says Juices at double time, and all other hands are required in the central, open kitchen.
The queue out front is a 50/50 mix of people vying for one of the prime bench seats by the open windows, and people waiting for a takeaway coffee and a breakfast roll. If you’re pushed for time this has all the best bits of a cooked breakfast (bacon and eggs) and all the best bits of a toasty (gruyère cheese and tomato relish) in one tasty hot pocket. Plus, they use scrambled egg, which means no yolk explosions on the run.
But if there’s no hurry, stop inside. There’s a subtle Wild West feel to the interior with naked Edison bulbs hanging from wagon-wheel spokes, a rough timber counter, industrial lampshades and an old-fashioned cash register. Plus they’ve put a huge mirror on the back wall so the place looks twice the size – very sneaky and very effective.
Cold weather makes it harder to rally in the mornings but good coffee, hot fritters and some rock’n’roll will make leaving your doona fort for a Bootsdarling breakfast worth it.