Hiatus review

Crab omelette with charred baby corn and leeks.
Crab omelette with charred baby corn and leeks. Photo: Darrian Traynor

117 High St Kew, VIC 3101

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Opening hours Daily 7am-4pm
Prices Cheap (mains under $20)
Payments eftpos, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 0491 027 139

Who'd be a chef? The long, unsociable hours that wreak havoc on anything approximating a "normal" life; the cut-throat competition in the restaurant scene. Little wonder some chefs with runs on the board are tapping out to run their own cafe show. We're likely to be seeing more of it, too, as chefs like Rory Greenwood-McNeair, who shook the pans at Feast of Merit, Pei Modern and Attica, team up with owners like Simon Tammesild (ex-Stokehouse and Mr Miyagi) to make brunch the sexiest meal of the day. The sociological thesis can wait – take a Hiatus, even – while we sink teeth into the dinner-at-breakfast paradigm.

The space

Until recently Hiatus was a pizza shop, although the renovation has left not so much as a whiff of a No. 18 Super Supreme. The pale and interesting fitout features white-painted, timber-lined walls, a gabled skylight and caramel banquettes. Head past the kitchen and you'll find not just the loos but the door to the courtyard, open to the car park at the back, fixed up with picnic tables and a water bowl for doggos.

The pale and interesting fitout at Hiatus cafe.
The pale and interesting fitout at Hiatus cafe. Photo: Darrian Traynor

The food

With "Food by Rory Greenwood-McNeair" written on the top of the menu, it's no surprise that the Hiatus menu is about as far as it gets from the greatest hits of the Melbourne cafe scene, circa 2018.

A crab omelette plays the whole-veg card, the thin omelette flapped over sweet meat with an Indo-style chilli sauce, charry baby corn and leeks. There is plenty of veg-based action – a cauliflower steak with caraway puree; heirloom carrots with lentils, wild rice and pickled ginger dressing. Velvet-textured slices of beetroot-cured gurnard act as a prop to a fat fried puck of parsnip hash, and a mad tangle of celeriac noodles with salsa verde.

Blushed gurnard and parsnip hash.
Blushed gurnard and parsnip hash. Photo: Darrian Traynor

You want the meat? Go the sliced medium-rare skirt steak, battling it out with the sharpness of Sicilian-style marinated capsicum on toast.

The smaller crowd will beeline for the eggs any which way. Soft-boiled eggs arrive pre-shelled with fat brioche toast soldiers.

The brew

Skirt steak and marinated capsicum on toast.
Skirt steak and marinated capsicum on toast. Photo: Darrian Traynor

Beans are by Coffee Bird, the wholesale arm of Greenvale cafe and roastery Omar and the Marvellous Coffee Bird. The white blend is super nutty, its earthy tones offset by the creaminess of St David's Dairy milk.

The booze

No alcohol, although your gut can party with a selection of locally made Bod Kombucha.

Avo index In keeping with the road-less-travelled ethos, smashed avo is nowhere to be seen. Does a side of avocado and black olive dressing count?

Overheard "I told him not to worry, it's only a small dent."

Loving Some pretty keen pricing, with nothing (so far) over $19.

Not getting Why anyone thinks it's a good idea to soundtrack lunch with Blink 182.

Caffe latte $4

Score Two coffee cups
Food 8/10; Coffee 4/5; X-factor 3/5