Today Prince Gobble Guts and I made our first foray into the weekday breakfast. It began with a long car ride in somewhat heavy traffic as we traversed greater Melbourne making our way slowly to the inner north suburb of Brunswick. This was the first difference we noticed--the traffic. It's quite relaxing sussing out a good breakfast place on a quiet Sunday morning, but in peak hour on a rainy Thursday it was not so enjoyable. Note to self: Weekday brunch might be the go.
Navigating the narrow and congested streets that form the arteries of Brunswick can be a very delicate exercise--especially in the rain. A Minor Place, the cafe that fellow breakfast lover, Kylie, had chosen, sits on Albion Street between Nicholson Street and Sydney Road--not that you'd ever know it. I'm sure I drove by it twice wondering where the bloody hell it was until I made the urgent call to Kylie to clarify the name and address. It was then that she mentioned the cafe sits in an old yellow house with a veranda out the front. No wonder I couldn't find it I thought, it just blends in with the rest of the street. That section of Albion is very residential so I kept waiting for the cafe to jump out at me, but it was well camouflaged.
Several U-turns later, Prince Gobble Guts and I found some parking on the street and hurried through the rain into the nondescript yellow house that A Minor Place calls home.
Kylie was well into her first cup of tea when we arrived and had nabbed a spot at a large square communal table in the front of the cafe overlooking the street. A quick glance around the room found three diners with laptops busily working away, plenty of understated retro decor and a clientele that looked as if they could all be stall holders at a really groovy Arts market. The feel was cozy with a bit of polish. Prince Gobble Guts was the only little person in the room. The rest of the diners looked to be somewhere in the 25-45 crowd.
As soon as we sat down, the helpful waitress stopped by to take our drink orders. I asked for a latte for myself and a babychino for Gobble Guts. The drinks arrived shortly after and the coffee was very good. Prince Gobble Guts seemed thrilled with the babychino as well and had the tell tale chocolate mustache that seems unavoidable when enjoying that warm milk treat. Kylie and I took a bit of time to look over the menu and both noted several dishes that looked worth a try. Kylie narrowed her choice down to the French Toast and I ordered a dish called The Mumbler which consisted of two poached eggs on toast with pesto, feta cheese, fresh spinach and tomato. I asked the waitress for a small side order of scrambled eggs for the Prince, but she informed me the kitchen only prepared items in one size--which meant it would be a full order of eggs for the Prince or no eggs at all. So I ordered a full order of scrambled eggs on toast with a side of bacon.
Kylie and I busied ourselves with the task of entertaining Prince Gobble Guts, but mostly he was entertaining us. The kid has a whole collection of facial expressions that he flashes indiscriminately melting the hearts of the most hardened onlookers. Oh and the eye lashes...he bats those around quite a bit too. He was really enjoying his moment in the spotlight with his usual competition, Princess Pancake, safely tucked away at Kinder.
At some point before the food arrived, an overly serious waiter who reminded me a bit of REM front man Michael Stipe, approached the table to set out our cutlery. He placed a serviette down next to Prince Gobble Guts and then said something along the lines of, "G'day there young fellow. I'm going to give you a knife and fork now." Then placed the cutlery on top of the serviette and walked away. Prince Gobble Guts was as puzzled as I was. It was becoming more and more obvious that A Minor Place wasn't accustomed to catering for minors. No small serves of menu items and now a knife for a 2 year old. Puzzling indeed.
I wouldn't say the food was slow in coming out, but I would say it was relaxed. Kylie and I weren't in a hurry so we didn't notice the wait, but I do think if you were short on time you might have been asking about your breakfast before ours arrived at the table. When the food did arrive, it looked lovely. Kylie's French Toast appeared to be quite the indulgence and had the taste and texture to back it up. She ate it all up, down to the very last bite!
My meal, The Mumbler, looked fresh and inviting with two of the most well poached eggs I've seen in a cafe in Melbourne in a long time. The pesto spread on the toast was delicious and the feta cheese was understated and not too bold. It was a unique and yummy combination.
Prince Gobble Guts' scrambled eggs were light and fresh with plenty of herbs mixed through them. He seemed to only have eyes for the bacon though and true to his name, gobbled it all down before his long suffering baconless Mum ever got a taste. I was pleased that it was Prince Gobble Guts who was faced with the herbed scrambled eggs because nothing phases this kid. My mind was shuddering at the thought of trying to sell the same meal to Princess Pancake. It would have been a disaster. Different strokes for different folks right?
Kylie and I enjoyed our meals immensely and Prince Gobble Guts had no complaints...he rarely ever does. After we sat and had a chat for a bit longer we decided more coffees were in order. Not one to have multiple coffees in one day much less in one sitting, I decided I'd order a decaf. Kylie quickly informed me that A Minor Place doesn't have decaf coffee. Bummer. So we settled for two weak lattes instead and another round of babychino for the little fella.
Several hours after we arrived in the light morning rain, it was nearly midday and the rain was coming down quite hard. We relinquished our spots at the communal table and headed to the bar to settle our bill. The kind waitress gave us our total and Kylie asked if we could pay for our meals separately. The waitress informed us that you can't split the bill at A Minor Place. So we did the maths and sorted it out, paid the bill and walked outside to say our goodbyes.
Final Verdict on A Minor Place:
While I found the cafe itself to be charming in a retro-too-cool-for-school kind of way and the food to be fantastic, I do think the service lacks a bit of hospitality. The wait staff are friendly enough, but the hard and fast rules on serving sizes and bill splitting was a bit annoying. While Prince Gobble Guts coped quite well in the environment, I don't think it is a particularly kid friendly cafe and the attitude of the staff bears that out. If you live in the area, take yourself a bit seriously and appreciate a good meal in a casual but hip environment then A Minor Place might just be the place for you. If you've got little people, leave them at home or go elsewhere--the vibe just isn't kid friendly.
A Minor Place
103 Albion Street