736 Malvern Road Armadale, Victoria 3143
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 7am–3.30pm; Sat-Sun 7.30am-4pm|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||eftpos, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9824 5239|
How many times have you had to wait for a brunch table at a cafe? Plenty, if your regular brunch day is Sunday and your regular brunch spot is one of Melbourne's innumerable inner-suburbs cafe hotspots.
But how many times have you had to wait for a table on a Tuesday morning? Not so many, I'll bet.
But Tuesday table-waiting was the name of the game at freshly minted Mammoth in Armadale. And the story was the same two days later. It wasn't a long wait – a few minutes – but Mammoth was definitely in "We'll just be a couple of minutes while we find you a table" territory – even for a single.
Mammoth, which opened the same day Malcolm Turnbull toppled Tony Abbott, has a crowd-pulling pedigree. Owners Loren and Jamie McBride are also involved in Touchwood and Barry, and chef Emma Jeffrey comes via Fitzroy's Hammer & Tong, which often felt like a restaurant dressed down as a cafe; she trained at hatted restaurants Fenix, Matteo's and Reserve.
Jeffrey's food is smart, even clever – a mix of on-trend healthy, intriguing takes on cafe classics and quirky menu twists.
Some dishes need decoding (unless you like surprises). "Cherry lamington, Dutch baby, coconut crunch, cherry, dark chocolate ice-cream" is a German-style pancake cooked in a skillet in the oven and given the lamington flavours with freeze-dried cherries, coconut gel, cherry jam and double-choc ice-cream; and "egg brulee, bread and butter pickled zucchini, artichoke, toast" is a pair of soft-boiled eggs, halved, sprinkled with sugar, given a blast of the blowtorch and served on toast with sour-sweet strips of the zucchini pickle.
North Shore consists of a carefully plated hash of meaty ham hock, potato mash and chicken mousse rolled into a neat log, two poached eggs and a single jalapeno pepper stuffed with scamorza, crumbed and deep-fried to peppery crispness. Oh, and a slice of pineapple, torched with a sprinkle of sugar and flame-grilled for sour-sweet contrast.
Lunch looks just as adventurous – a smoked chicken salad with cucumber spaghetti and pumpkin leather, maybe, or green chilli chicken with crisp red rice cake.
Or lobster doughnut burger. While that might sound like the answers to a surrealist's multiple-choice quiz, it is what the label says: a burger of whole baby slipper lobster in a yeast-based doughnut from 5 and Dime Bagels that's dusted with salt-and-pepper mix and doughnut sugar.
It is comically messy to eat – dripping with tangy lime-infused juice from the green mango and papaya coleslaw that combines with the salt-and-pepper and sugar to quickly destroy napkin and dignity alike. On the upside, it's very tasty: the meat is sweet and tender and given plenty of zing by the green mango and papaya and an intriguing spicy-sweet contrast note from the dusting.
The Five Senses coffee here is pretty good, too: maybe an Ethiopia single origin YirgZero (zero as in zero-defect, hand-picked and hand-sorted cherries) – a full and fruity coffee that's spot-on in a well-made short black, and the last little touch in a pretty mammoth package.
Do…hang around if there's a queue – it's worth the wait
Don't…miss chef Jeffrey in action at the pass
Dish North Shore
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