A week after our first visit to The Hardware Societe, Phoebe phoned me up in a gleeful tizzy. “We get paid this week, we can have a real payday lunch!”
“Paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayday lunch!” (This went on for a while)
Once we’d stopped cheerfully bellowing at each other Phoebe asked me if there was anywhere I’d had in mind to visit lately. Since we also felt like we might like to do some vintagey shopping afterward, I thought somewhere on or adjacent to Smith Street would be the ticket, and suggested Birdman Eating, and I had recently read a few reviews that were either glowing or scathing, and I was keen to find out which side I would fall on.
“Good,” said Phoebe. “Let’s brunch it. And Emma’s probably going to come too!”
“YAAAAAYYYYY…” etc, etc.
The three of us marshaled ourselves to Birdman Eating on a slightly damp Friday at the appropriate brunching time. I was immediately quite enamoured of the interior, with the little feathered mannequin dolls and vases with flowers hanging from the ceiling. It helped as well that it was much warmer than outside!
I had the black rice with coconut yoghurt and mango, mainly as I’m always intrigued to try other kinds of rice rather than plain ol’ white. The black rice had this amazing silky texture, there was something about it that almost made it seem fruity, like berries had been threaded through it, who knows what they did to get it like that. If you like a textural start to your day, this is where to get it. The coconut yoghurt was a refreshing contrast of tartness, and the mango was nice, although it was probably from a can given it’s the dead of winter right now.
Emma had the corn and broccoli fritters with smoked salmon. I was surprised at her choice to start the day with fish; even when I ate meat I was very much NOT a fan of seafood and never saw the appeal of fish-based breakfasts like kippers or kedgeree. “Fish for breakfast really wakes you up and leaves you with a fresh taste all day,” Emma said brightly. She paused. “Of course, then you get the fishy burps.” The fritters were brimming with corn and greenery, and they were HUGE! Emma tried hard to finish, but was defeated at the final fritter. She really enjoyed them, though.
Phoebe had the cheese kransky with poached eggs, grilled polenta triangles, and I think some bacon. This was a mountain of heavy-duty foods, with not even the relative lightness of the poached eggs providing much relief, particularly when Phoebe’s contentious relationship with eggs came to light. She was eying her egg suspiciously. “The poached egg looks a little funny.” “Do you have egg issues?” I asked. “I do! They’re… they’re just weird! But I’m trying to be better with them by ordering them as a component in dishes.” Phoebe also made a valiant effort to finish, but was eventually defeated by meats. Yet she enjoyed her meal well enough, though gave me a saucy grin afterward and whispered “Not as good as Hardware Societe.” Well, what is? Unfair comparison! (Can you tell we’re obsessed?)
As pretty much all of the scathing reviews I’d read were particularly focused on service and waitstaff who were apparently brimming in attitude, I was full of trepidations as to what kind of service we could expect to receive at Birdman Eating. We were lucky though, as we mainly dealt with a lovely girl in a floral headscarf who was all sunshine, told us the specials and was enormously cheery, dutiful and friendly throughout. I think luck might have something to do with the service at Birdman though, as we did come in contact with another waitstaff member who was a bit ‘tudey and didn’t crack a smile the entire time. It might have something to do with it being a weekday versus a weekend – I can imagine a place as popular as this getting quite overrun on a Saturday or Sunday morning and causing staff to develop acute tetchy-itis.
As to where I sit on the glowing/scathing review scale, I’m definitely ambling towards the glowing end, though would probably have to visit a few more times to be absolutely certain. It’s a very nice space, the food I sampled was good, and if you’re lucky enough to have a cheery serviceperson it’s a very pleasing way to while away a morning. It’s not the best of the best, but it’ll do very nicely.
238 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Ph: 9416 4747