It had been a good long while since Muffin and I had gone out for brunch with just the two of us. Such an oversight had to be amended post haste! “How about we go somewhere out your way for a change?” I suggested. She was more than happy to acquiesce, and I suggested Willim as the entry to strike off on my giant list of ‘to visit’ foodie places.
Willim straddles the suburb divide of Malvern and Armadale; indeed, while the cafe’s promotional material gives it’s address as Armadale, it is literally a few steps from the Malvern end of Glenferrie Road, giving ample ammunition for pedants to get all hung up on boundary semantics. Whatever, all this means to me is that we are now in POSH TOWN. And since we are in posh town, I expect some posh as cafe food.
Willim is quite small, but has managed to capitalise on footpath space in a clever fashion, with a long wooden pew that hugs the street edge and is covered by a thick canvas awning that keeps most of the weather away. The staff are nicely unpretentious, friendly and ready with a smile, and definitely provided the best part of our visit.
But what of the food? Muffin chose the Tasmanian smoked salmon, served with asparagus, horseradish, preserved lemon, parsley, and a slow poached egg. The asparagus was by all accounts lovely, all nicely grilled yet still bright green and springy. The egg had been poached for too long. While it was still spreadable, it wasn’t runny, which is the true pleasure of a poached egg. Muffin opined that there wasn’t enough horseradish to go around, and that the dish lacked a unifying element to bring all of the ingredients together. She thought perhaps an aioli or mayonnaise or similar could have worked wonders, but as it was the dish as a whole was lacking.
I was feeling sweet, so went with the brioche french toast with poached rhubarb, hazelnut streusel, yoghurt, smoked maple syrup. The hazelnut streusel was the dynamite element in this dish, all sugared, nutty delight. The maple syrup was indeed noticeably smoked (I hate it when items are described as smoked, then you taste it and think to yourself “This hasn’t even been near damp kindling let alone something that was actually on fire.”), and the yoghurt just a touch sweet with an underlying tart tang. What wasn’t terribly impressive was the fact that the poached rhubarb amounted to four three-inch long pieces that had been placed at cardinal points on the plate. Artistic, no doubt, but pretty disappointing considering that the rhubarb was described as being the main element of the dish and was the reason I ordered it.
We were still a bit peckish so ordered some baked sweets to share. The raspberry and white chocolate muffin was pretty damn nice, with a plentiful ratio of both chocolate and berries to dough. The banana bread was very strongly flavoured but strangely didn’t have any actual chunks of banana in it, which made me a little bit sad, I like chunks! I also ordered a mocha. A very, VERY chocolaty mocha. Enough chocolate for someone like me who generally welcomes a lower coffee ratio to comment “Wow, kind of would of liked a little more kick to this.” Coffee fiends would have definitely been disappointed.
Willim has a lot of aspects to it that work. The staff are lovely and attentive, the space is small but makes good use of what it does have (the street set-up where we sat is particularly well put together and comfortable). But Muffin and I both came away from our visit feeling that while the dishes we tried had a promising footing, neither were as good as they could have been. And a place can be as comfy and welcoming as it likes, but if the food doesn’t stack up, there’s a big question mark as to whether I’ll decide to return.
90 Union Street, Armadale
Ph: 9509 8506