Mayday

S'more ice-cream sandwich with torched marshmallow and chocolate fudge.
S'more ice-cream sandwich with torched marshmallow and chocolate fudge. Photo: Luis Ascui

408-410 Bridge Road Richmond, Victoria 3121

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Opening hours Daily 7am–4pm
Features Licensed
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Payments Mastercard, Visa, eftpos
Phone 03 9421 0111

People keep saying Bridge Road, Richmond, is resurgent. (I seem to have said it myself.) Resurgent from what, you might wonder: the glory days of outlet shopping?

I don't know about the city end. But further east, towards Burnley, a clutch of good eateries – among them Academy Kitchen & Bar, Touchwood, and Anchovy – has been joined by a new specialty coffee bruncher, Mayday.

Like Richmond's original gentrifiers, Mayday has its roots further east, in Hawthorn, where its parent, Axil Coffee Roasters, lives in Burwood Road, and Axil's fingerprints are all over the food, the fitout and the coffee here.

The big, open interior of Mayday cafe in Bridge Road.
The big, open interior of Mayday cafe in Bridge Road. Photo: Luis Ascui

The space is big and open, with windows front and side and a nice mix of white walls, timber trim, a polished grano floor and some cute powder-coated pastels in the furniture.

The menu lists just a dozen breakfast and lunch dishes, and they all have the Axil thing going for them, a sort of blingy take on Melbourne cafe food.

So you get avocado smash, but it comes on pumpkin grain toast, is seasoned with nori salt and served with pickled radish, a sprinkle of black sesame and a splash of yuzu; and something like a Bircher, except it's chia seeds, blueberries, macadamia nuts and pomegranate bits soaked in almond milk and served with maple jelly.

Citrus-cured ocean trout, potato and fennel croquettes, beetroot relish, poached egg and lemon labna.
Citrus-cured ocean trout, potato and fennel croquettes, beetroot relish, poached egg and lemon labna. Photo: Luis Ascui

There's a beignet of char-grilled cauliflower and haloumi. This local take on deep-fried choux-pastry (served dusted with sugar for breakfast in New Orleans) is a doughnut-sized thing, minus the hole.

The dough is proven, steamed and then fried, coming all creamy and savoury with the cheese and the cauliflower, and beautifully plated on a matte black disc with a schmear of cauliflower puree that's glistening with truffled oil, a poached egg and a scatter of superfluous rocket.

There's a lovely dish of cured ocean trout – the two-day citrus cure delicate and the fish sashimi-like in its subtlety – with a couple of log-shaped croquettes that were the size of chip-shop spring rolls; a base of potato (more crushed than mashed) is mixed with fennel tips, confit fennel and some parmesan, rolled in golden panko crumbs and fried golden crisp. The fennel was ... subtle, but this was plenty tasty anyway. On the side: another perfect poached egg, a blob of beetroot relish and lemon labna for sharp flavour contrasts.

The milk coffee is good, but dishes pair best with a black brew.
The milk coffee is good, but dishes pair best with a black brew. Photo: Luis Ascui

There should be more croquettes on Melbourne breakfast menus. If they're this good.

The milk coffee here is good, but dishes like these work best with a batch brew or a long black of one of the seasonal single origins (a pulpy, ripe El Salvador San Cayetano natural in this case).

The final Axil-ish touch is the s'more chocolate waffles: they're a startling Hershey's colour, chocolate-cakey in flavour and texture, sandwiching some hand-torched marshmallows and a cookie parfait that tastes like butterscotch ice-cream. It's all drizzled with sweet chocolate fudge and sitting on a sticky puddle of salted caramel that was maybe not quite sweet enough, and a little too caramelised.

Savoury doughnut: Char-grilled cauliflower and haloumi beignet.
Savoury doughnut: Char-grilled cauliflower and haloumi beignet. Photo: Luis Ascui

I don't know who eats food like that for breakfast (unless people now have dessert before noon as well), but I'll bet this one has gone off on Instagram.

Dish ... cured ocean trout with potato croquettes.

Do ... order the s'more waffles: you want 'em.

Don't ... miss the patatas bravas – an early crowd favourite.

Vibe ... Richmond resurgent.

http://axilcoffee.com.au/