Forest Green

Exemplar of simplicity: Forest Green is a cafe with a restaurant ethic.
Exemplar of simplicity: Forest Green is a cafe with a restaurant ethic. Photo: Wayne Taylor

1264 High Street Armadale, Victoria 3143

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Opening hours Monday-Friday 7.30am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am-4pm; from January 8 Tuesday-Saturday 5pm-10pm
Features Accepts bookings, Licensed
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Chef Patrick Craig, Jon Nolan
Payments Mastercard, Visa, eftpos
Phone 03 9509 2325

Don't you love it when breakfast is more than eggs and assemblage, when it's crafted with thought, skill and quality produce that elevates the meal from first look to last bite?

That's the deal at Forest Green, a cafe with a restaurant ethic expressed in dishes like the duck eggs, fried to a perfect crisp-fringed circle, laid on toast as airily as a line-dried sheet over a wide expanse of mattress, topped with lightly roasted tomatoes, plump green olives, furls of prosciutto, and a heart-fluttery scattering of flowers and baby herbs. It's pretty and vigorous with a good balance of salt and richness.

Too many cafes let granola fly through to the keeper without so much as a probe outside leg. Forest Green drives it through the covers. Nice shots don't need to be flashy: this granola is a poised honey-toasted mix of oats, seeds, flaked almonds and coconut, vanilla yoghurt, poached strawberries and rhubarb. It's as impeccable as the crème brulee donuts are dastardly and delicious.

The duck eggs are fried to a perfect crisp-fringed circle.
The duck eggs are fried to a perfect crisp-fringed circle. Photo: Wayne Taylor

It makes complete sense that this six-month-old cafe will start opening for dinner this week.

Owner and chef Patrick Craig previously helmed Maris, a contemporary oft-hatted restaurant at the southern end of Glenferrie Road. He brought most of his Maris team here including chef Jon Nolan as partner. The experienced fine dining crew now deliver stellar food and invested, keen service in a breezy shopfront setting.

Dinner menus will build on satisfying lunch dishes like grilled chicken salad with cracked wheat, sweet roasted carrots and eggplant, and the super satisfying shredded lamb shoulder with orecchiette pasta and crumbly salted ricotta. Otherwise, expect whole fish, barbecue meats, and nibbles to share.

Ah, and wine: a tight list of Victorian wines under $55.

Forest Green isn't complicated but it's an exemplar of simplicity stretching towards the sublime, and a cafe you can count on from morning till night.

Rating: Four stars (out of five)