HOT: Small Block, East Brunswick
Small Block is a child-friendly cafe where you don't have to sacrifice kids' facilities with quality of food and service and a hip, inner-city ambience.
- attention to coffee – the blackboard shows the single origin bean of the day and gives a description of its particular qualities;
- an extensive all-day breakfast menu which has the locals lining up on the weekends; and
- functional industrial chic decor, from the wooden tables to vintage metal and wood school chairs. The seating ranges from tables, benches and a narrow outdoor area with stools.
Local mum B and I met up for lunch during a weekday on B's recommendation. She'd tried a lot of the items on the menu and decided on an old favourite, the Summer Breakfast – eggs on toast, avocado, spinach, persian feta and beetroot relish ($15). The waiter asked her how she wanted her eggs cooked (scrambled) – a refreshing change when menus commonly take an opposite approach and warn that there are to be no substitutions.
When I see corn fritters I inevitably order them and so it was this time – sweet corn fritters with bacon, rocket and tomato chutney ($14.50). The lunch menu also features four different sandwich fillings, a pasta of the day, a soup of the day and two burgers (lamb burger and steak sandwich).
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The Summer Breakfast looked like a very satisfying vegetarian option, with a steaming mass of scrambled eggs atop a chunky piece of toast, a large hunk of feta and vibrant red relish. B gave it a thumbs up.
My corn fritters tasted just as good as they looked – densely packed corn kernels, crispy (but not too crispy) bacon, a generous handful of fresh rocket and a very sweet, almost apricot fruity, chutney.
While the tarts and cakes in the tall cabinet sounded appetising (particularly the lime syrup cake) frankly I was up for a second course – so I doubled back to the breakfast menu to order the ricotta hotcakes with saffron pears and barbados cream ($15). The hotcakes were not as fluffy and light as I would have liked (maybe it was the buckwheat flour I think they used?) but the mixture of pears and cream whipped with yoghurt and brown sugar did hit the sweet spot.
From my reading on the internets it seems that people's experiences of the service at Small Block varies widely. I found the service to be very friendly and prompt – maybe it was the weekday, maybe it was our cute babies? When I entered I was immediately asked for a coffee order and given a glass of water and when B arrived our waiter came to ask us for our order three times before we were ready because we were too busy chatting.
pram access (though the front door is a bit heavy)
standard menu has kid-friendly items (including babycinos);
toys, books and small bench seat and table for kids; and
limited free parking on Lygon and surrounding streets plus bike racks.
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Oh, this is making me homesick! Small Block used to be one of our regular Saturday morning breakfast spots.
The Summer Breakfast was one of my favourites, as was the Pesto & Feta scrambled eggs. They are always busy but the service is really good, the staff keep things ticking along.