San Telmo

The breakfast slot at San Telmo is cruisy and chilled.
The breakfast slot at San Telmo is cruisy and chilled. Photo: Eddie Jim

14 Meyers Pl Melbourne, VIC 3000

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Opening hours Mon - Sun 12 Noon – 11:00 PM
Features Licensed, Wheelchair access, Bar, Gluten-free options, Vegetarian friendly, Accepts bookings, Outdoor seating, Private dining, Degustation, Romance-first date, Events
Chef Michael Patrick
Payments Diner's Club, eftpos, Cash, Visa, Mastercard
Phone (03) 9650 5525

WHO isn't doing BLD these days? That's breakfast, lunch and dinner, don't you know? Circa is. Cumulus is. Albert St Food & Wine, too. But I love the idea of an Argentinian kickstart to the day - empanadas, huevos rancheros, medialunas - and that's why I'm here, slouched on a high-backed chesterfield at San Telmo, wondering how a nightly meat den cuts it as an early-morning pit-stop.

San Telmo at 8.15pm (buzzy, packed, raucous, with a waiting list for tables) and San Telmo at 8.15am (quiet, mostly empty, delivery blokes with milk crates) is two vastly different places.

The breakfast slot is cruisy and chilled, a handful of suit-clad corporates huddled around a few laneway tables, a few more reading the paper on comfy swivel chairs at the faux-marble bar. In the rustic, wood-panelled dining room, it feels like I've slipped into a wormhole where the city doesn't exist and I'm no longer late for work.

For those who don't already know the story, San Telmo is the brainchild of brothers David and Mickey Parker and Jason and Renee McConnell, with Michael Patrick (formerly of Ladro and Supermaxi) as head chef.

When David was living in Buenos Aires the McConnells came to visit and, a few bottles of malbec later, a plan was born. San Telmo's cowhides, knives, the decorations and the custom-made parilla all come from there.

To beverages: the strong coffee is excellent, a smoky single-origin Sumatran with a gutsy kick through the milk (the single-origins rotate) or a heavy-bodied Five Senses Crompton Road house blend. Tea is teabag (no loose-leaf), but the orange juice is sweet and freshly squeezed.

Insanely good are the medialunas (the smaller Argentinian cousin of the bigger French croissant), rich, buttery pastries hot out of the oven and filled with sweet, caramelly dulce de leche - sensational. There might be banana and chocolate, too.

The tasty breakfast empanada has a crunchy lard-infused shell (known as "the masa", the generic Spanish word for "dough") encasing corn kernels, egg and nuggets of chorizo.

Thin, ricotta-filled crepes are more dessert than breakfast, a modern take catering to the Aussie palate, sauced with burnt orange and rosemary syrup, sweet but not cloying, the rosemary adding sharpness.

The omelet-style tortilla could be softer for my taste but the potatoes are cooked through and the manchego cheese gives good flavour.

If it all sounds a bit lardy so far, there is house-made granola, with fresh fruit or banana and Brazilian superfood acai.

Service isn't warp-speed in the morning. If you are running late, take in a warm mess of medialunas - lateness appeased, office-hero status assured.

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Cumulus Inc

House-smoked salmon and eggs, canele, a wagyu corned beef and gruyere toastie - Cumulus gives good brekkie.

45 Flinders Lane, city, 9650 1445.

nrousseau@theage.com.au

santelmo.com.au