If you are a crazy anal-retentive person like me, you have a list of all the foodie places around Melbourne that you hope one day to visit. This list is, for the most part, a fluctuating beast: new places are constantly added and then often promptly forgotten about, others that I have been too sluggish to visit are sadly deleted once news of their closure becomes widespread. Places once visited get their names italicised if they were good. Bad places are slashed with a strikethrough, or deleted if the wrath is all too great.
And then there are the places that I’m excited to visit above most others, and are decorated with a little asterisk. And no other asterisked place has waited so long for me to visit as Batch has. I remember talking about visiting Batch around the time I started up this here blog. It’s shameful I’ve taken so long, so I made up for it by visiting it twice in mere weeks!
Batch is on bustling Carlisle Street, and has a tendency to be bustling itself. It’s nicely fitted out, with a lot of slightly industrial floral arrangements and an array of cute little knick-knacks that remind you that the owners hail from across the Tasman.
On my first visit I had the potato rosti, with harissa creme fraiche, fried egg and a side of spinach. Do you like the idea of having a crispy, oily potato pancake for breakfast? If not, good, because I love the idea of having a crispy, oily potato pancake for breakfast and if you abstain it means more for me. It was a deliciously evil fried breakfast, all the things your doctor warned you about, and it was sinfully good.
And if you think I had healthful respite with the spinach, oh ho ho, you would be wrong. This was the best kind of spinach, the kind lovingly slathered in butter and dusted with salt. Delish. I felt like a very wicked little glutton by the time I’d finished it, and instead of guilt all I felt was contentment.
Highly pleased with this first visit, a week later I suggested Batch as the venue for a larger brunch with myself, Muffin, Bennett, Rob and Joe.
I was a little bit more healthful this time round, and went with the two boiled eggs with soldiers, with accompanying sides of spinach and mushrooms. The eggs were nicely boiled with gooey centres that were perfect for dipping my bread soldiers into, such a satisfyingly nostalgic dish! The spinach, sadly, was nowhere near as good as the first time, it was very watery and didn’t seem to have been seasoned at all. Though at least there are salt shakers and pepper grinders on tables, so it was a bit more palatable once flavour enhanced. The mushrooms, however, were a delight, all zingy with mustard seeds and continental parsley.
I did not get around to sampling anyone else’s dish besides Muffin’s, who got the potato and spinach hash, which looked like a great big bowl of breakfasty potato salad. Tasted great, with a distinct flavour thread of sour cream and mustard seeds (they love their mustard seeds here).
I am very positive about Batch’s food, but I cannot be as effusive about their tea. They are pretty insipid brews. The earl grey I had on my first visit was horrible, all flat and muted, lacking in bergamot overtones and having an unpleasantly metallic top note. The English breakfast I had the following visit was better, but nothing special and still reasonably bland. I neglected to ask what brand they use (and I can’t find any tea info in any other blog reviews because it transpires that no one cares about tea), but by the taste of the earl grey alone I would hazard that it may be T2, because T2 earl grey has that same muted, metallic taste and is vile (seriously, do not stock T2 earl grey. Just don’t). Perhaps I will have to just bite my tongue and order mochas next time I go, everyone I dined with said that the coffee is amazing. I just sometimes wish places that put so much care and effort into coffee selection and preparation would extend the same courtesy to tea, but oh well. It’s a beverage culture thing, I guess.
There may have been quibbles here and there on my behalf, but the important thing was that I suggested this place to and experienced it with five other people, and they all came away having highly enjoyed themselves and praising the food, coffee and space to the hilt. And that seems to be where Batch hits the nail on the head: it has great food, and gives itself over to creating a great, friendly space for friends to gather together to eat and giggle, and they’ve been doing so consistently for about six years, which in the longevity-shy cafe scene is pretty impressive. So give Batch a go. Tea’s not great but the food is sinfully seductive, and if you can wear off your fried breakfast belly with a kip in a sunny park afterward with your friends, well, you’ve just had yourself a perfect afternoon, haven’t you?
320 Carlisle Street, Balaclava
Ph: 9530 3550