I was actually quite recalcitrant to blog about Friends of Mine after my first visit last November. Normally I can’t wait to blog about a new place, and generally have to be stopped from just blabbering quite incoherently about how everyone has to stampede to whatever new venue has tickled my fancy. But although the food was mind-blowingly amazing, there were a few things about Friends of Mine that made me pause in blogging about it. The first thing was it was very new at the time of my first foray, and clearly was going through the obligatory teething problems. I ascribed several oddities experienced during that visit (waitstaff being very unsure of themselves, an epidemic of missing teaspoons with orders of tea) to this fresh newness. Though I’m still not sure whether being given a bottle of utterly rank water could be due to being new or just an example of sheer what-the-fuck-ness (it did cause one of our party to utter the now immortal line “This water tastes like arse“, which for me will never stop being funny).
Then over the next few months came several reports from other friends who had severe issues with some truly rude waitstaff (seriously, mouth-dropping open, I-can’t-believe-that-actually-happened-type stories). I decided that, despite liking the food, my internal jury was completely out on whether Friends of Mine was somewhere I wanted to recommend, and generally not liking to blog about places that make me ambivalent, I threw it on the back-burner of unfinished posts.
Then a few Saturdays ago Phoebe invited me out for brunch and suggested Friends of Mine. Remembering that the food WAS super awesome, I decided to brave the weirdness that could come our way. Instead of weirdness, I was presented with a highly competent outfit who have clearly gotten themselves into a workable groove, and were dealing with a potentially chaotic high-traffic day with pleasurable aplomb.
The staff were universally cheerful and highly pleasant despite the Saturday brunch-time bedlam. The fellow in charge of the waiting list did a remarkably good job keeping control of the floor and the milling mobs waiting for tables, which is impressive especially given the fact that Friends of Mine is a heck of a lot bigger than most cafes seem to like to be lately. And throughout our meal every waiter that we encountered was unfailingly polite and charming (in relation: to the waiter who looked a little like Jesse Eisenberg, I would like to marry you please), the food and beverages all arrived in a timely fashion despite the full house, and all in all the experience quite changed our opinion on the level of staff friendliness at this place, especially for Phoebe, to whom one of the incidents of incredulously jaw-dropping staff behaviour had occurred.
Anyway, enough of that, to the food! I ordered the folded eggs with herbs on wholemeal toast, accompanied by some sides of smashed avocado and thyme-buttered mushrooms. A quite sizable volcano of food came out. The ocean of folded eggs were delightfully creamy, though the promised herbs seemed a little thin on the ground. The mushrooms were just as delightful as I remembered from my first visit, all permeated with that gorgeous, slightly smoky tang that only thyme can provide, and the avocado was amply spread across the bread, all smooth and eye-poppingly green. The only thing I kind of felt would make the dish perfect would have been some just-wilted baby spinach, though this may just be my ravenous need to have spinach in EVERYTHING lately talking.
Phoebe had practically the same dish as me, piled high with both mushrooms and avocado, except having poached eggs instead of my folded ones. “Eggs and mushrooms, I will conquer the weirdness of both!” she said gleefully. Weirdness was indeed conquered, with both of us endeavouring as hard as we could to clear our plates. Which was quite hard given the sheer size of the dishes!
Egg mountain or not, each of us were determined to finish with a sweet. We each chose one of the little cupcakes on offer. My was coconut and lemon flavoured, and was quite delicious: crumbly, buttery cake shot through with a sharp lemon tang, and an icing softly accented with lemon, and shredded coconut sprinkled on top. Combine that with a tea, and I was rendered quite content.
So there you go, a reminder that sometimes one visit is sometimes not enough to get an accurate read on a place. Question for other bloggers: do you tend to visit a place multiple times in order to suss out a more complete vibe before reviewing, or do you stick by a one visit policy under the belief that cafes and restaurants should be consistent? While I have a tendency to blog by the latter standard, I’m glad I gave Friends of Mine a second chance. The service may have proved itself to be inconsistent yet improving, but the food itself (which is the most important in a lot of ways) just keeps being excellent.
Friends of Mine
506 Swan Street, Richmond
Ph: 9428 7516