Where 240-242 Johnston Street, Fitzroy, 9415 6420
Open Mon-Fri, 7am-4pm; Sat-Sun, 8am-4pm
Cards MC V Eftpos
Do . . . picnic at a table outside
Don't . . . underestimate the menu: the food is smart
Dish . . . corn fritters with kasoundi and poached eggs
Vibe . . . laid-back local
Prices . . . Breakfasts $7.50–$18, lunches $16–$20
Actually, I blame that '80s Robert Palmer video with the models dancing, out of time, wearing black dresses and blank expressions: the cute one, the hot one, the sexy one, the babe. The video that said it was OK to objectify women again; the video that also worked up the idea of addiction as a good thing. Addicted to Love. Addicted to Candy Crush. Addicted to corn fritters.
Addicted to corn fritters. That one turned up in my Instagram recently, along with a fake Polaroid of a dish of golden lovelies someone had 'grammed at Addict Food and Coffee. Better get down there myself for a taste, I thought.
The menu at this laid-back corner cafe – it's got big windows on to Johnston and Gore streets, a long, low communal table that says "hang around", the right kind of hip-hop soundtrack and a whitewashed, clean, timber fitout – is one of those everything-looks-tasty rather than what-the-hell-is-that affairs. Wholemeal buttermilk pancakes come with roasted peach and mascarpone; braised quinoa and chickpeas are cooked in mushroom stock; chorizo baked eggs are plated with green salsa and toasted sourdough. It sounds good, and you can easily imagine what will come out of the kitchen from chef Steve Hogan (ex-St Ali South).
Some of it is pretty. A veg and quinoa salad is a careful arrangement of roasted root vegetables, quinoa and shavings of turnip on a smart black plate. Potato hash with mushroom duxelles and roasted field mushroom is a neat stack: a splodge of duxelles under a crisp-creamy disc of potato hash, with a large roasted field mushroom, caramelised onion and a poached egg balanced on top.
The specials blackboard tempts, too: pulled confit duck salad with pickled vegetables; cheese kransky with poached egg, bacon and confit tomato on sourdough; or a roast beef sandwich with beetroot relish and game chips. The sandwich is toasted ciabatta stuffed with thin slices of pinkly roasted beef layered with carrot and cucumber ribbons and a pile of rocket, tangy beetroot relish slathered on the bread and more on the side. The "game chips" are house-made potato crisps.
Owners Greg Brassil and Joe Ventura started out roasting coffee in Shepparton; here, they've turned to Clement for their beans. A Kenya single origin has an intriguing butterscotch sweetness in a long black, while the Clement Pony blend makes a delicious, nutty caffe latte.
So how good are the corn fritters? Pretty good, actually: crunchy outside, creamy in, with whole kernels popping sweetly. They're lined up on the plate with two poached eggs – good ones – under a thick slice of grilled haloumi. A peppy kasoundi adds flavour contrast, and there's a scatter of coriander, mizuna and finely diced tomato.
At writing school they say, "Show, don't tell", so I'll show you my notebook: "Corn fritters – effing delicious."
But addictive? Let's just say, simply, irresistible.
The Age Good Cafe Guide 2014 is available in selected bookshops and online at theageshop.com.au for $9.99.