Friday, May 22, 2009

The Alpha Bakehouse

42 Anderson St
Yarraville, VIC
Tel: 03 9687 6483

My first memory of the Yarraville Village is the Yarraville Festival and Hot Alpha Bakehouse Doughnuts. Enough to help with my decision to move to Yarraville from the ‘other side of the bridge’.

When we go out for a cooked brekkie we don’t generally go to the bakery. We go to a café. We go to the bakery for bread, rolls and sweet baked treats. The Alpha Bakehouse offers both and more. As well as the board breakfast menu, it has a few items in the bain marie which actually look really good. The croque monsieur looks great and apparently is, while the foccacia with mushroom, spinach and cheese looked very tempting and I look forward to trying it at some point on my rounds. Ok, so I had the usual - runny poached eggs (free range), on two big thick slices of simple white bread (what a treat), tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach. A very, very generous serving of brekkie. Quite nice and very filling. Gritty Spinach. Spinach always needs to be thoroughly washed and this wasn’t. Most unpleasant and had to leave the spinach on the side.

Over the years I have watched the Alpha Bakehouse change from a continental bakery to a more sophisticated bakery. I like the way it looks now. I like the tables in a row along the wall and how you can sit and look directly at the counter with the display of beautiful cakes. I even like the colours. I like the heating, very slimline hanging from the ceiling and very effective. I’m not the only person who likes all of this. The place was packed. So busy! Why aren’t all these people at work I asked. It’s after 9am!
Perhaps I have not mentioned this before but all the cafes we go to for breakfast are busy, it’s amazing. No recession at breakfast time in SKY! ( hope you haven’t forgotten that SKY means Seddon Kingsville and Yarraville). I really didn’t expect much of the Alpha Bakehouse but I have to admit, it has surpassed my expectations. It’s a happening place in the mornings at least.

Tea. Can’t say much, it was a generic teapot with a tea bag (Harris's). Not happy Jan! Don’t they know the water goes cold really quickly in these things. Could do much better!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


How good is this!!!! It is the Tea&Toaster and I want one!! Apparently you can do both at the same time. The mind boggles.


We made an executive decision to include Footscray into our SKY breakfast club. Although it does not fit under our banner we thought it was close enough to home. We also decided in our snippets of information we could include topics other than breakfast. Hope you enjoy!

My first snippet is from The Station Hotel in Footscray.

Yes! The pub of the year (2008) according to 3AW.

We have been going for quite some time and decided that would be one of my Mothers Day treats. I Soooooo looked forward to that big juicy steak all week. Mothers day was a 3 course deal for $70. Not cheap, but not too badly priced. The entrée was sensational, with snippets of charcuterie (The preparation of pork and other meat items, such as hams, terrines, sausages, pâtés, and other forcemeats.), fresh oysters and other seafood..

The main course was the steak and it was really disappointing. The meat was tough! Diaster in the kitchen! What will Sean Donavan (Chef and part owner) think of this. However the vegetables were delicious.

The dessert, a very, very, very, sweet upside down pineapple cake was loved by my husband and daughter but for me it was just too much.
Luckily, for the Station Hotel, I will still go back and encourage people to keep going just because every other time I have been it has been sensational.
If I was Sean Donavan I would probably interview new suppliers for the steaks for his bistro.

Photo - The Age

Happy River Cafe

45 Moreland St
Footscray, VIC 3011
(03) 9689 3244
Open Tue-Sun 8am-6pm

Last week we ate at Feedback which was once owned by the lovely ladies of Happy River, so it felt only right to have our breakfast at their latest venture, (although they have been here for some time now).

My previous experiences at Happy River have mainly been morning or afternoon tea out the front. On sunny days it is a lovely spot to hang out, providing toys and of course lots of grass for the kids to run around on. Space is always a bonus with toddlers.
Going inside to sit was a first for me and being a cool morning I was very interested to see how it would feel. It was bigger than what I thought it would be and I really didn’t know what to make of it and I’m not sure if I do now.
One of the things that put me off were the tablecloths, they just didn’t do it for me, however for R they reminded her of her childhood with lots of warm fuzzies. Maybe I would call them cute, maybe!
I love the open kitchen mainly because I can watch what is happening by the stove but also because I can see the hot boy (in his early 20’s) quietly doing the dishes, nothing like some eye candy to keep you coming back to a place!
Table service starts well but falls behind as the hours slip by, (yes again it was 12.00 before we left). Unfortunately their selection of tea is limited and was not overly appealing and can you believe it, those damned tea pots again. (see picture at the gravy train review) . I’m sorry if my usage of words is a bit harsh but I just don’t get it. Why can’t people see through these teapots and use their imagination a bit. A café is not just all about coffee, put some thought into the Tea!

The breakfast was fine but I’m afraid to say I think they left the better chef at Feedback. Last week I raved about the breakfast at Feedback and I had very good reason to. This week the breakfast at Happy River has gone back to the middle of the road breakfast that I have been getting around town. Just a couple of points, when poaching an egg has anyone heard about the whirlpool method. You make a whirlpool in the water by swirling it with a spoon and in the middle you gently crack the egg in. This method produces a very presentable and professional poached egg. The eggs I received today were not whirlpool eggs, they were feral poached eggs(and while some of you may prefer feral) they just don’t look that good. The other thing to remember when serving poached eggs is that the customer prefers you to leave the poaching water in the pot and not add it to their toast. Soggy toast is extremely unappetising. On a good note, they served lemon with the spinach which was lovely.

As I said earlier, to get our second pot of tea, it took quite a while. Every time the waitress came by I thought at any moment she is going to stop at our table and see if we want anything else. She didn’t, so we had to stop her . The café had a lot of staff, all seemingly busy but as far as I could tell not achieving much (the café was by no means full). From a business point of view I would think that selling food/drink would be a part of the waiting staff’s job, in the time that we were sitting there we could have had 3 pots of tea.

The Happy River café’s breakfast falls within the average price range of other cafes reviewed and it is certainly worth a visit.


Atmosphere - 7/10
Food - 6/10
Service - 7/10
Tea/Coffee - 6/10
Price - 8/10

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


31 Ballarat St,
(03) 9689 1955

Short and Sweet!!

Amazingly this was the best breakfast I have had yet in Sky!

Although we were on limited time this morning I still managed to eat my usual (yes the poached eggs, tomato, spinach and mushrooms) and enjoy it more than I have in weeks. Until last week I would have said “oh please can we move onto something else on the menu”. Now I know that this dish has just been benchmarked! This is the best, and this is what the rest of the cafés have to live up to.
This is what I have been looking for! It’s funny how most of my reviews have not started off talking about the food but today when I walked away that was all I could think of. 30 minutes later the cherry tomato flavour is still lingering in my mouth. That’s when you know you have had a fantastic feed!

The simplicity of a dish! Perfectly Poached free range eggs, I didn’t even have to ask for them to be runny. Beautifully steamed spinach containing all that goodness and mushrooms mingling with whole roasted cherry tomatoes.
The eggs were on slightly undercooked ciabatta bread and guess what, it wasn’t too hard to cut. There is our answer to a previous week’s question about using ciabatta - Ciabatta bread toasted too much is too hard to cut.

So did I have time to take in the rest of feedback while I was indulging in the food?
Of course I did. I can eat, talk, listen and observe what’s going on around me, very well actually. Feedback is probably the smallest café in SKY. It has laminated tables and seats about 20 people at any given time. It has a showcase of quiches, lasagne's, spinach and ricotta rolls etc. It has local art on the walls and local advertisements for things going on around town. At the moment it appears that Trivia nights are all the go and a poster of Myf Warhurst and Alan Brough doing the St Augustine's Primary School Trivia night stands out.

This is also a very popular place for take away coffees. They use Genovese coffee but as you know I don’t indulge so can’t tell you about it. But please be my guest to leave a comment on the coffee. That would be very helpful, actually. Our tea was fine, nothing spectacular. Regular little white china pots, with a regular cup. R had a muffin and I have to say that I was very tempted to have one because they look sensational. Very rustic looking and filled to the brim with berries, R says they are the best in the village.

It feels like a hip place to be with the staff giving off this relaxed and peaceful vibe. $18 for the best breakfast in town (tea included), great value. Next time I go I will hang out longer, and try that muffin.


Atmosphere - 8/10
Service- 7/10
Food - 9/10
Tea/Coffee - 7/10
Price - 9/10

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Gravy Train

83 Gamon St
Yarraville, VIC 3013
(03) 9687 9866

I remember the Gravy Train when it first opened. It was about the same time I moved into the area. S.K.Y. had a few cafes and the area was still finding it’s feet. The original Gravy Train was in the building that now houses Gourmet on Gamon. This is where the foundation of their business was laid. The original owners then moved across the road to their current address. They had already built up a fabulous business with sensational food and coffee and when they moved (into the old stables restaurant) they showed a flair for creating a wonderful space to eat in. Using fantastic furniture, red walls with original art work for sale and an open fire place it was always a pleasure to visit.

The Gravy Trainhas new owners and the Façade has had a facelift. Like a lot of Facelifts it has not been done well. This is unfortunate and I keep hoping it’s not finished and it’s just an undercoat but if there is another coat to go on then it is taking an awfully long time! Disappointing. However, there is a saving grace and that is the lovely herbs planted out the front. This is encouraging and perhaps suggests not is all lost at the Gravy Train.

On walking inside, the previous owner’s flair is still in place. Thank God. The walls are still red and the furniture etc is still the same. There is a function on in the backroom and a few other patrons. There’s plenty of choice as far as sitting is concerned. Shall we sit on Gamon St or should we sit in the front courtyard, or inside by the fire or perhaps towards the back room. Wherever you choose to sit you get a good view of the goings on in the café. There is one familiar face in the café and another staff member. They must have been busy with the function because it took quite a while before our table was approached and an order taken.

On delivery of the food I was not given the relish that I ordered. In the good old days of the Gravy Train I thought their breakfast was the best in Melbourne and part of that breakfast was the relish. Although it is not part of my weekly regular order I could not resit it. It did not appear and I did not chase it.

There is something that is lack lustre and although the décor is there the atmosphere just isn’t. I can’t put my finger on it and it made me feel like I couldn’t be bothered. My breakfast was nice but I really did miss that relish! R had some toast and showed me a corner which could have had mould on it, she put it to the side and we discussed whether or not it was mould. It was questionable but it could have been discoloured flour. Funnily enough the girl sitting just opposite us had the same problem and she spoke to the waiting staff about it. The waitress dealt with this extremely professionally and was quick to quell the myth of mould and brought out the loaf of bread to show her that this type of bread had that appearance. She had a very effective argument finishing with the bread comes in fresh everyday.

Have we discussed tea in those teapots that are so generic. Is that the right word? These teapots are in some cafes, but they are also in canteens, in hospitals in pokie joints, you get the picture. Why would you use them in a café??? They are horrible and should be banned from all local cafes at least.

At the end of the day though the Gravy Train serves a good breakfast and is among the cafes that are good value for money. Personal taste does account for a lot and you may not feel as I do, so check it out for yourself .


Atmosphere - 6/10
Service- 5.5/10
Food - 7/10
Tea/Coffee - 6/10
Price - 7.5/10

Le Chien

5 Gamon St Seddon
Phone: (03) 9362 7333

What a great place to watch the day go by! And that’s what we almost did! Before we knew it the morning was turning into lunch. I was supposed to be on my way home not still drinking tea at 12pm. As it turned out I would not return home for another couple of hours as I was lured to another café by a girlfriend who hadn’t made it for breakfast but managed to get out by lunchtime(she has twins!) Fancy that! But that’s another story.

Why is it so easy to NOT leave Le Chien? Regularly we sit at the bar that looks onto Gamon St, and beyond to the half modern, half 80’s Sabrosso building. Not really a great view. So what keeps bringing us back to Le Chien?

Is it the owner, Andy, the other staff, the clientele, the Food, the Tea or the Coffee?

Let’s start with what is most talked about, THE COFFEE! I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that The Best Coffee in “S.K.Y.” comes from Le Chien. Over and over again I hear this! It is almost driving me to drink coffee, but alas I just don’t get the coffee thing! I know, shame on me! But Hey do you get the Tea thing? I know R does!

So there is no doubt that Andy makes a great coffee and, yes, his new Barista (whose name I am yet to discover) apparently does too. The coffee attracts people from far and wide. Just on the morning I was there Mick from Chalk and Mary from Lacquer stopped here to grab their morning coffee’s to take to work. They have about half a dozen cafes in Yarraville Village to choose from and yet they come out of their way to Seddon pick up their coffee. Nothing else needs to be said.

Not only does Andy make a great coffee, but he is such a likable chap. He always offers a warm welcome when you enter and immediately you feel at home. Perhaps that’s what attracts the clientele that he has. One morning the Western Bulldogs are taking up all seats and the next morning an actress or an actor from recent television are rushing in for their caffeine hit. Mum’s with prams line up outside while one delegated mum runs in orders and collects the coffees and muffins to take down to the park.

They play fantastic music here as well, always at just the right volume but enough to notice who it is. On one occasion I had to ask what album they were playing and I promptly went out and bought it I liked it so much. If anyone is interested it is the soundtrack to Garden State. Brilliant. Simply put, Le Chien has atmosphere plus!

We have talked a lot about the coffee but what about the tea? We love it! Probably the best cup of tea to be poured in S.K.Y. and the best value. Reason being, they give you the biggest pot of freshly brewed tea! They give you a lovely cup that does not have a rim as thick as a small novel,(one of R's pet peeves) and the tea seems to go on forever.

And now the actual Breakfast. This was a really hard one for me because I have been here heaps for breakfast and I have to admit, I have a fave. I LOVE the promite special. What is that you ask? Well it is two runny poached eggs on promite ciabbata toast with avocado, tomato and parsley. It really is fantastic so for me not to be able to order that was so hard. So I ordered the norm! Runny poached eggs, tomato, spinach and mushrooms. And it was great! However I do think the tomatoes could have been a bit riper. A question I would like to send out to all our readers is - Does anybody else struggle with cutting ciabatta toast? I do love it but it is so awkward to cut sometimes I feel like I’m going to lose all the food onto the floor. Any suggestions! (we thought it might need a steak knife!!)

Earlier on I asked why is it not so easy to leave Le Chien. Above are all the reasons I think that keep you coming back and keep you from leaving but maybe the obvious reason is the door. How long does it take to get used to that door? As you sit there watching customers come and go it is quite amusing to watch people trying to work it out however it should be noted that is has probably been put there for our own comfort so persevere (push the big red button on the wall) because the rest is worth it.
Atmosphere - 9/10
Service- 8/10
Food - 8.5/10
Tea/Coffee - 9.5/10
Price - 8/10