Cru

Kew has all of a sudden in the past year or so become quite a burgeoning brunching spot. I’ve already covered both Percy’s Aeroplane and Lil Boy Blue, and still have my eye on visiting Ora, which was the first establishment to put Kew back on the Melbourne food map. But I had been especially eager to experience Cru, which seemed to be attracting nearly universal praise. So with the regular lunching crew of Kim, Pat and Bennett in tow, I showed up on a Sunday morning prepared to be impressed.

For those who love their cafe design, Cru is ever so pretty. White walls, bench seats, floral arrangements, cosy open kitchen that ends up winding out into an expansive outdoor courtyard. We started off in the courtyard but it was a bit chilly, so the staff were very kind and kept an eye out for an indoor table for us to move to.

I had been hankering for a pot of tea, but had been easily confused by the waiter’s greeting of “Would anyone like a coffee?” (What, it was 11am, I don’t deal well at such an early hour!) I ended up ordering a mocha, then was immediately confused about the fact that I had ordered it. I shouldn’t have been, though, because Cru’s mocha was possibly THE BEST MOCHA IN THE WORLD. Yes yes, you’re thinking this is an attack of standard Hayley hyperbole, but I kid you not, it was LOVELY, all creamy and smooth and with only the barest trace of bitterness underneath the silky bean flavours, and turned out to be exactly what I needed. I would be willing to return to Cru for the coffee alone, and you all should realise what an unusual statement that is for me to make!

Onto more substantial vittles, I ordered the pea and mint fritters with goats cheese, sauteed zucchini, and a cheeky poached egg on top (I am increasing becoming convinced that every dish can be improved with the inclusion of a poached egg). Same for Kim! She felt that there was possibly a touch too much goats cheese, which made the whole dish slightly in danger of being too rich. I can see where she was coming from, although my dish cleared in at being just under too cheesy. The fritters themselves were crispy little balls of awesome (I very much like the ball format of fritters rather than the more standard patty, purely for the higher ratio of crispiness), the zucchini fresh and tasty – the zucchini this season seems to be a very flavoursome crop, I’ve even noticed it in my homegrown examples – and I especially appreciated the dish being served in a very handsome green earthenware bowl, as I could make a delicious mess with the egg very happily.

Bennett had the potato rosti with salmon and a mountain of greenery, which was a terribly attractive-looking brunch plate. Pat had a standard eggs and bacon on bread Sunday brunch double-hitter, and it looked very hearty indeed, perfect for anyone looking for some soothing hangover food.

We were all very well pleased with our time spent at Cru. The food was filling, fresh and fabulous, the space welcoming and comfortable, and I’ve already made plans for further Cru brunches with friends in the near future. Well well, Kew, who would have thought that you were going to be home to the next brunching wave?

Cru

916 Glenferrie Road, Kew

Ph: 9818 4366

www.crukew.com.au/

Little Deer Tracks

Something happened after I clicked ‘publish post’ on the last review I posted here: I had no more drafts waiting to be finished in my drafts folder. This has happened precisely once before in the entire history of this blog, and as a result I might have panicked slightly, putting a frantic call out on Twitter for suggestions as to where I should eat next.

Much to my delight, Catherine from the fabulous Cates Cates blog stepped up with not just a suggestion but an invitation to join her for brunch at Little Deer Tracks, a vegetarian cafe in Coburg that has long been on my “must try!” list. How lovely!

Tucked away in a backstreet where you definitely wouldn’t expect to find a cafe, Little Deer Tracks was bustling happily away, filled with families and brunching couples. It’s homey, but in a very cute, neat way, with local artists’ art on the walls, nice wooden furniture, and friendly waiters who are very proud of the food that they serve up.

I always flip out a little when faced with an entirely vegetarian menu, in that my natural indecision is ramped up to obscene levels and I spend a lot of time dithering. While I was tempted by the marinated tofu salad written up on the specials board, I ultimately decided that that was not a brunchy enough dish and instead settled on the zucchini, tomato, onion and goats cheese scrambled eggs with basil served with a slice of crunchy sourdough toast.

This was the correct choice to make! The zucchini was tender and slightly charred like it had been cleverly pan-fried before being combined with the other ingredients. The scrambled eggs were ever so creamy and had deeper savoury notes to them that must have been lent to them by the charred zucchini and salty goats cheese. It was a very filling dish and it is a sensible decision to only give one piece of oil-drizzled sourdough toast to go along with it otherwise you may burst.

Catherine had the hueveros ranchos, which was this beautifully sloppy slick of beans and veggies book-ended by two taco shells. Apparently the old chef used to use tortilla strips as the carby sauce-soaker element, but the new chef is all about taco shells. It certainly looked jaunty! Definitely the sort of dish that I would love to try on another visit.

As we were paying I also got a good look at the desserts cabinet, which was filled with the likes of a freshly baked cherry tart, chocolate cheesecake, vegan lemon biscuits, it was a drool-worthy sight to behold. I will definitely be making room for sweets next time (I am clearly very keen on there being a next time!).

Little Deer Tracks was highly impressive. The menu was interesting and varied, and Catherine assures me that the chef mixes it up every few months with the introduction of new dishes, meaning that one’s interest there is unlikely to grow stale. It certainly made me wish that I lived a heck of a lot closer to Coburg, and am very jealous that Catherine gets to have it as one of her locals. Lucky!

Little Deer Tracks

44 O’Hea Street, Coburg

Ph: 9354 3449

Little Deer Tracks on Facebook

Naked For Satan

We had a very special milestone to celebrate last month when our friend Nina took the plunge and became a fully-fledged Australian citizen. We wanted to take her somewhere that would reflect her Colombian heritage taking root in Australia – I instantly suggested Sonido, but the fact they aren’t open on Sunday nights scuppered that rather poetic idea. Eventually someone suggested┬áNaked For Satan, because Spanish food is kind of related to Colombia? Look, food on sticks transcends all cultural boundaries.

Food on sticks, you say? Yes, the deal at Naked For Satan is that all the food is done in the style of pintxos, little tapas-like snacks popular in northern Spain, particularly in the Basque region. You choose your pintxos, and make sure you hold onto the toothpicks spearing each one, because the amount you eat and therefore pay for is tallied by the amount of toothpicks you present to the waiters when you are done.

Virtually all of the pintxos come on rounds of crusty bread, which works with some of the combinations, like those based on spreads with toppings, while the presence of bread with some of the other options is a little more odd.

My first pintxo was the carrot puree spread with garlic marinated mushrooms. This was the only vegan pintxos I spotted that evening, and it was one of the more delicious ones, with the marinated mushrooms having this sharp, slightly balsamic tang to them, but it would be nice if there were at least two vegan options so one does not end up having some kind of mushroom overdose (though that wouldn’t be a half-bad way of going out, honestly).

A quince paste and goats cheese pintxo had a few pistachios sprinkled on top, and unsurprising these three flavours worked very well together.

I bee-lined for the crumbed eggplant chip on blue cheese smeared bread pintxo as soon as I spotted it. The eggplant was all crispy crumbs on the outside and soft deliciousness within, just the way I like it. Kind of just made me want a heap of eggplant chips, and this was one pintxo where the bread round seemed extraneous to requirements.

A sort-of-sweet option was the poached pear with a blue cheese smear, honey and walnuts. The poached pear was gorgeously soft and sweet, contrasting with the pungent blue cheese.

Another pintxo featured an asparagus spear laid on an avocado and pea smear. This one was kind of underwhelming, which is disappointing considering I love all three green ingredients. There strangely just wasn’t much flavour going on.

Flavour was, however, totally there in spades with my favourite pintxo of the night, the potato tortilla with a stupidly tasty mayo-like sauce. The thick triangular wedge of traditional Spanish tortilla, which is quite quiche-like and is not to be confused with the Mexican flatbread of the same name, was obscenely flavoursome, I probably ate about three of them – though with the later ones I left the bread untouched as again, the bread really added nothing to the tortilla was was just texturally confusing.

I finally had some proper sweets with the cointreau-chocolate mini cannoli and the dark chocolate rum ball. These were both quite nice, the rumball in particular was strongly flavoured with a good amount of dark chocolate, although being me I would have liked a lot more sweet options to choose from.

Considering that I had been worried that I would end up terribly hungry due to the tiny portions, I was actually nicely full by the end, and had only spent my pocket change in the process (I totally recommend going on days when the pintxos are only $1 each). Although there is the distinct possibility that this fullness was probably mostly due to everything coming on bread. There also weren’t any vegetarian or vegan hot options floating around – my meat-eating friends got to sample things like piping-hot meatballs and whatnot, and it might have been nice to balance out all the room-temperature pintxos with something warming.

But the bar is plentifully stocked and has many interesting tipples to try, including ginger beer cider, which has certainly been the find of summer drinking for me! I love cider and love big heapings of ginger in everything, so it’s absolutely perfect for my tastes.

Naked For Satan is definitely worth a gander at if you like interesting wee rounds of food and an extensive drinks menu. A warning that it is very popular and doesn’t take bookings, so it’s best to rock up either very early or very late in the evening to snag a table.

Naked For Satan

285 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Ph: 9416 2238

www.nakedforsatan.com.au