100 Leicester St Carlton
100 Leicester St Carlton
(03) 9347 2010
The university curse strikes again. You spend the morning studying hard (or procrastinating hard) and come lunchtime, the brain cries out for food. We reach for whatever’s closest, often disregarding quality, and our poor taste buds and stomachs are left dissatisfied. Well, that’s if you don’t study in Parkville. I’ve already raved about the nearby Seven Seeds and Le Miel et la Lune but now a new, unique little breakfast/brunch/lunch spot has opened up on unassuming Leicester St in Carlton.
While perhaps a little further afield than the other two, Stovetop makes up for this in intimacy. In fact, despite its entire front wall being window, I can imagine many walk straight past without even noticing the humble sign above the door. The cafe is small, but not cramped, and is a lovely balance of private tables and a communal bench adorned with greenery. The menu is a clipboard of food and drink and could only be described as ‘your favourites with a little extra’.
Are you usually a fan of fritters? Well, do Stovetop have a middle eastern treat for you? The sweet potato and chia latkes are little fried balls of delicious. Crunchy on the outside, they burst with the sweetness of the potato. This sweetness and crunchiness is offset by the bed of creamy, savoury and salty baba ganoush. The rocket prevents the dish being too rich and two perfectly poached eggs perched on the top round up the flavours in the best of breakfast ways: bound together by an oozing yolk.
How about baked eggs? The Stovetop version are a colourful mixture of juicy sweet pumpkin, spinach, and duck egg. Roasted garlic and feta pack a flavour punch and the toast is crisp and crunchy.
The cinnamon waffles are served with pomegranate molasses, the porridge with almond milk and even your toast has the option of cashew spread. It is very clear that love and dedication have been poured into the menu. Don’t forget to check the daily specials up on the blackboard.
The coffee is also served ‘a la stovetop’ as it is, quite literally, brewed on a stovetop. The humble espresso, cappuccino and latte all hail from Italy and we are very much used to the centrepiece of most cafes in Melbourne: the espresso machine. There is another method to brew coffee that produces a similar end product in a more traditional way and this is the Moka pot.
Usually an aluminium pot, the Moka pot was first patented in Italy and is used widely by home brewers all over Europe. All they require is ground beans, water and a stovetop and the final flavour depends on the bean, the roast level, grind texture and temperature. Sound familiar? Stovetop, as implied by the name, embraces this Italian method wholeheartedly to present a coffee you won’t find anywhere else. The flavours are intensified by this method and highlight the sweetness of their house blend without too much bitterness. However, as you make your way to the bottom, the grind is more apparent and only the bravest coffee drinkers should attempt the dregs.
The rotating guest blend this week was a 5 senses single origin and don’t worry, you can still get your favourite skinny soy cappuccino with an exta shot take away. The grand coffee machine churns away despite the offer of something a little more exotic.
For the sweet tooths out there, the chai latte is Prana Chai and served in the Greek ‘brikki’; a refreshing and unique presentation that finally steers away from the overpopular jam jar trend. The cake display hides from view when seated but strategically appears as you approach the counter to pay, making takeaway snacks tempting. I have to say it was the muffins that caught my eye.
In a city where we are surrounded by breakfasts out competing each other in originality, flair and design, it’s nice to find somewhere that is happy to offer food that resembles breakfast while still presenting it beautifully and with a bit of a twist. Just out of both the university and cbd hubbub, the limited seating makes for a wonderful little place to eat alone or, in my case, a friend with whom I need to catchup on an extensive European adventure.