December 11, 2010

Auction Rooms

The LineDebbie 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.

PanellaWe 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.

SaladThe 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.

SandwichThe 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.

MacchiatoAfter 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.

December 05, 2010

More IPAs

Found two more winners at Purvis

The first is "Hopwired" from 8 Wired. A purely NZ beer made with NZ hops and NZ malt. It's a big IPA in the "New World" style, hop driven with plenty of dry-hop character and hop bitterness in the body. It's from Marlborough, home of world famous Sauvignon Blancs, and they like to claim it has a less grapefruit/pine hop character and more of a passionfruit/sauvingnon grape character. I say grapefruit/pine and I say the hell with it - actually I say "bring it on." It's my current favorite and having found it I am well content.

That said, there's another kiwi APA from Purvis that I just tried that's another winner. That's the "Tuatara APA" and I don't think I can do much better than quote from the label:
Spawned by freewheeling California hopheads, American Pale Ale is the red-headed stepchild of the Classic IPA. Big and extroverted with plenty of bitterness, a great APA shows off some fruit on the nose and the kind of earthy, herbaceous complexity Pinot Noir buffs drone on about when they corner you at a fundraiser. Anyway, we had a thumb through the Tuatara Atlas and discovered that us Kiwis are New World too. So we reckon its time a NZ APA pulled on its Dockers, flashed its iPhone and generally talked louder than anyone else in the bar. Here it is.
It's great. Maybe not quite as much in-your-face dry-hoppedness as the Hopwired, but it's plenty good. I could drink this. Next up I have to try the local brewery "Mountain Goat"'s premium IPAs...