Inside the dramatic ironstone building. Photo: Ken Irwin
It's more fun to eat waffles with chocolate mousse than to parse Latin texts. That's why I'm glad to visit Brighton Schoolhouse now rather than in the mid-19th century when it was school number 44 and, if records are to be believed, sadly lacking in bircher muesli, kale juice or espresso. No wonder it didn't last.
A few operators have tried their luck in this dramatic ironstone building. The new consortium (which includes Hawthorn footballer Josh Gibson) is a clever pitch at a tough crowd with a mix of wildly healthy and superbly indulgent food and drink and an aim-to-please outlook, expressed in such things as a respectful kids' menu and a ''your local chemist'' selection that includes juices, Berocca, Bloody Mary and a toothbrush.
School chic means timber desks, bashed-up lockers and vintage games but a steampunk coffee roaster says less about Victorian-era education and more about 21st century Melbourne. Even cuter: tea comes with egg timers to ensure perfect brews.
Classy: Activated nut porridge with raspberries and organic yoghurt. Photo: Ken Irwin
The enormous patio has a playground, shade and a lot of people ordering complicated coffees ("skinny decaf latte in a long glass") and Instagramming photos of one another's designer dogs (I admit baby pugs are adorable). The waiters are impossibly good-looking and the food is spunky too.
Porridge is made with oats, activated nuts, dried blueberries and crisp freeze-dried raspberries. I can't imagine how much Pilates a person would have to do to finish the huge serve (more yoghurt might help) but it's wholesome and tasty.
The quinoa with truffle-flavoured poached eggs, fried haloumi and pea puree is a bowl of brunchy brilliance. A buy-local ethic extends to the Tasmanian quinoa. The Western world's love of this super-seed has put it out of reach of many of its South American farmers, a fact that's flagged on the menu. I'm impressed by this global outlook.
The Schoolhouse's enormous sunny patio. Photo: Ken Irwin
Lunch stuff includes pies, burgers and gorgeous salads. Baby beets with greens and garlic crisps are the prettiest but I loved the juicy, sunny tomato salad, scattered with torn mozzarella and crunchy olive crumb.
The nicey-niceness ebbs when you head to the toilets, shared with the adjoining church and with a scrappy institutional feel to them, as though a naughty choirboy with a cigarette might emerge from a stall. Detention at this schoolhouse, however, would be no punishment at all.
Rating: 3 and a half stars (out of five)
- 03 9593 3129
- Cuisine - Modern Australian
- Prices - Breakfast: $6-$21.50; lunch: $16.50-$21.50
- Features - Licensed
- Cards accepted - AMEX, Mastercard, Visa, EFTPOS
- Opening Hours - Daily 7am-5pm
- Author - Dani Valent