Having been terribly lax in my Women of Letters attendance throughout most of the year (the tickets go so quickly! And I am LAZY!), I was fortunately rescued from feminist purgatory by Maddy, who has ninja-like ticket purchasing skills and secured for us seats to their last show for the year.
Of course, one of the best parts of going to WoL is organising a fortifying brunch beforehand, so that one has plenty of energy to laugh and cry like babes for three hours. Having seen it recently featured on Where’s the Beef as their own pre-WoL lunch adventure, I thought that Brother Alec would be the perfect place to try out.
The cafe itself is very unassuming, but full of friendly little touches, from birthday messages to regulars scrawled on the windows, to the waitstaff themselves, who are some of the most unpretentiously cheery service staff I’ve encountered in quite a long while. The menu is filled with dishes that tempt and tease with their descriptions, and there were plentiful vegetarian options. It all combines into a place you really wish was your local; indeed, when the waitress mistook Maddy for another patron who had recently moved to the area, Maddy exclaimed “Oh, I wish I’d moved here so I could come every day!”
After seeing the photo of it in Where’s the Beef’s review, I tried but ultimately couldn’t go past the breakfast roll with spicy spinach, tomato relish, a thin, thin, thin egg omelette, and basil mayo. For an unapologetic spinach fanatic such as myself, it was a decadently enjoyable brunch snack indeed, with a gigantically thick filling of springy green spinach that had been slightly wilted and brushed with some kind of buttery spice concoction. The egg is nowhere near the star of the dish, so if you’re looking for an eggy fix, look elsewhere. The actual real star was the basil mayo, which was sinfully flavour-packed, I wanted to smuggle away a jar and put it on EVERYTHING.
To test a cafe’s true friendly, accommodating mettle, you should attend with a friend who is both vegan and gluten intolerant. Maddy was most pleased that the waitress not only happily allowed her to convert the fried potatoes dish into a vegan and gluten free one (including subbing in gluten free bread), but also suggested extra vegan ingredients to plump up the dish. THAT is service in these dietary requirement heavy times, my friends! Other cafes, take note.
No tea or coffee accompanied our dishes, but I did have a nice refreshing glass of freshly squeezed orange juice that really hit the spot on a warm day.
As you can tell from my tone, I was pretty damn happy with everything at Brother Alec. In fact, the only shame about WoL moving to a bigger venue next year is that the Regal Ballroom might be a touch too far out of the way to fit in a Brother Alec visit beforehand. Nevermind, as WoL opened up my foodie knowledge of Thornbury, so shall it do the same for Northcote.
719 High Street, Thornbury
Ph: 9416 9428