North & Eight

Creme brulee french toast topped with custard and orange blossom syrup.
Creme brulee french toast topped with custard and orange blossom syrup. Photo: Wayne Taylor

285-287 Buckley Street Aberfeldie, Victoria 3040

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Opening hours Mon-Fri 6.30am-5pm; Sat-Sun 7am-4pm
Features Outdoor seating
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Payments eftpos, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 03 9331 3858

Melbourne is in the midst of a breakfast menu smackdown.

Fronting up in the green corner: cheeky chia, hale kale, fresh coconut and all their activated cousins, toting superfood cred and not afraid to use it.

Kicking back in the naughty corner, there's brioche to the horizon, bacon on bacon, caramel both crisp and gooey, plus chips for ballast.

Smart and spacious: Inside North & Eight.
Smart and spacious: Inside North & Eight. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Lurking on the sidelines, looking forlorn, are yesterday's heroes: eggs every which way, toast with spreads and your standard fruit salad. Who'd be a cube of melon in 2015? So yesterday.

North & Eight is a smart, spacious new cafe in a part of town that badly needed something contemporary and fun. It's leapt into the breakfast battle with efficient glee and is having a bet each way with exuberant flair.

There's the supposedly healthy stuff: chia porridge, jugs o' juice, protein balls and a satisfying quinoa salad with kale, juicy carrot sticks, corn, black beans, brown rice, sprouts and goji berries.

'Northella Houseshake' chocolate-hazelnut milkshake.
'Northella Houseshake' chocolate-hazelnut milkshake. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Then there's the evil stuff: brioche French toast topped with custard and orange blossom syrup (you bet I added bacon!), fried chicken on a waffle with (not-spicy-enough) chilli mayo (of course, plus polenta chips!) and the diabolical Northella Houseshake, a mega choc-hazelnut milkshake topped with Nutella-stuffed doughnut.

We already knew breakfast was important; now it's a statement, too. You're either telling the world your body is a temple or you're giving health the finger with a recklessly upsized, fully fried and bacon-topped blowout.

The upshot? Breakfast is a forum to announce that you're in control ("Just come from Crossfit so excuse me while I eat chia porridge in my activewear!") or that you're happily haywire ("Just preparing for my food coma!") and whichever it is, to eat your ethic loud and proud.

Rating: Three and a half stars (out of five).