Debbie and I have been on a quest to try a new Melbourne cafe every weekend. This weekend's cafe was "Auction Rooms" in North Melbourne. We've been hearing good things about it, both the food and the coffee. We visited at the height of the weekend brunch rush, and wanted a table inside so we had to wait maybe 20 minutes. This was no hardship as it gave me a great view of the kitchen and a chance to take some photos of the line.
This place seems to specialize in poached eggs, there was one guy poaching eggs pretty much continuously. He had two big pots of water on continuously and would alternate about eight eggs into each one. The kitchen was a little backed up and you could tell people were a little stressed.
We got our table over by the cute little sample roaster and each started with a macchiato of the single origin of the day, which happened to be one of our favorites an Ethiopian "Nekisse." This is a hand picked dry processed bean that I think has lovely blueberry and spice notes when handled well. Auction Rooms roasting and brewing did a great job of pulling out the complexities of this bean, my only complaint would be that the cups weren't warmed enough so it was a little cool by the time it got to the table. It's hard to serve such a tiny amount of coffee well, but they did a good job.
We ordered two of the "non-egg" dishes. All of the egg dishes use poached eggs which explains the poaching station, but I'm not a egg-for-breakfast fan and besides it was lunch time. Debbie had the tea smoked ocean trout salad while I ordered a pig knuckle sandwich.
The salad was a large portion of tender fresh-tasting trout that didn't seem at all smoky, combined with mango, avocado, green beans, potatoes, red onions, lettuce and tomato. It was lightly dressed in a slightly sweet whole-grain mustard vinaigrette that helped bring everything together. A definite winner.
The sandwich was slow roasted pig knuckle with pickled cauliflower, bread-and-butter pickle, green beans, and endive all served on a nice crusty bread. I didn't examine it closely but I think there was a sweet seeded mustard, and maybe an aioli or mayonnaise on it. Good, but the most memorable part was the sweet crunchy pickled cauliflower.
After the meal we each had another macchiato, but this time Debbie tried the house blend, while I stuck with the Nekisse. We shared a chocolate brownie that was very nice, but not worth a special trip. Overall it was a lovely way to start our Saturday. Definitely a bright star in the constellation of Melbourne cafes.