189 Booran Road Caulfield South, Victoria 316203 9576 9588
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 7am-4pm, Sat-Sun 7.30am-4pm|
|Features||Vegetarian friendly, Gluten-free options, Outdoor seating|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
|Payments||eftpos, Visa, Mastercard|
Reviewer rating: 3.5 stars (out of five)
If the holidays are about anything, they're about having breakfast at whatever time you like. If that ends up being Corn Flakes at sunset on the deck or an 11am date with toast, tea and Test cricket, then so be it. If you're lucky, you might happen upon an any-time breakfast at Mr Brightside, conceived and cooked with care, served with a side order of good cheer.
Mr Brightside is an anguished, urgent song about infidelity by rock band the Killers. Its cafe namesake is of a sunnier disposition, open since early November in a glass-and-concrete shell that could have been drab if the design job weren't so vibrant. A timber house frame gives definition. Picnic accessories, cute water glasses and splashes of colour (including a gorgeous green coffee machine) add to the lively feeling.
The breakfast menu is a smart mix of the traditional and the fashionable plus dishes that check in with Caulfield's Jewish leanings. French toast made with challah (egg loaf) and slathered with mascarpone is a no-brainer winner, but the beef brisket is a real star.
Brisket is a less-loved cut from the chest of a cow; brining and slow cooking ensures it's tender. The Brightside brisket is pickled, then braised overnight until it's forgiving enough to be cut with a fork. It's then sliced and slathered in a creamy grain mustard sauce. Alongside are poached eggs and one of Melbourne's better hash browns (super crunchy but herby, too, and with good definition in the grated potato). It's a great breakfast, oozing care and attention.
Yes, it's filling, but there's a cycling rail trail outside and a park across the road with exercise equipment, a playground and an oval, all of which is to say an opportunity for breakfast penance lurks nearby.
For lunch there's a daily pasta, a burger and sandwiches, including a great roast vegetable pide and a rye-bread Reuben that features that brisket along with sauerkraut and gherkin pickle. There's also chicken rolled in those Japanese panko breadcrumbs that turn anything fry-able into golden heaven.
Salads are good: an Israeli cucumber and tomato salad is beautifully chopped and the potato salad is a nice balance of firm and creamy, again with a mustard dressing.
Mr Brightside is a summer winner and a year-round gloom-banishing boon for a neighbourhood that now has something to sing about.
Ruby, 101 Mollison Street, Kyneton, 5422 2003. Daily breakfast and lunch.
If you're heading north, Ruby is a good coffee and breakfast stop. Traditional egg breakfasts are big sellers, with the huevos rancheros not far behind.
Wye River General Store, Great Ocean Road, Wye River, 5289 0247. Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner.
A great spot any time of day, but especially for morning coffee and crispy polenta cakes with poached eggs and black beans.
Red Elk, 27 A'Beckett Street, Inverloch, 5674 3264. Daily breakfast and lunch.
Great coffee and a big deck make for happy holiday breakfasts. Favourites include the Bircher or gluten-free muesli with poached fruits. The cafe stays open for drinks and snacks Thursday to Saturday nights.
* Closed January 1-7, 2013.