Red Door Corner Store II: Crumpin’ Crumpets

A new year, a new Women of Letters, and a new Women of Letters venue! Having moved from the Thornbury Theatre to the glorious disabled-access friendly Regal Ballroom, our WoL trip this month meant that we were moving our pre-brunch from Thornbury to Northcote. But with the vegan and gluten free requiring Maddy in our party, would we be able to find a cafe to cater for her hungry needs?

After doing some extensive research, I decided that it was high time to pay Red Door Corner Store another visit. Not only is their food comforting and delicious, but by the look of their website it seemed as if they would be able to cater handsomely for Maddy’s needs.

Being a bright sunny day, we snaffled ourselves a table in the courtyard out the back, which occupies a pleasing prospect bursting with flowers and overhanging trees, with a spread of astro-turf under foot.

Since I had passed over them last time, I figured this was the perfect chance to finally try the renowned coconut crumpets served with jam, honey and Myrtleford butter. Two huge rounds of crumpet appeared on a wooden board, just lightly golden in colour yet piping hot, surrounded by pots of condiments. I made sure to divide up the crumpets so that I could enjoy equal quantities of condiments because, you know, anal-retentive.

While the promised coconut flavour wasn’t really at the forefront, these were still really decent crumpets. Big and fat without, moist and spongy within, all that I require from a homemade crumpet. The condiments was where the dish really kicked up a gear – there was a mixed fruit jam (most probably a mix of plum and berries) that was sweet, rich, and threaded through with nice fat chunks of fruit; a lovely floral-noted honey, thick and sweet; and best of all, the perfect round of Myrtleford butter. You don’t want to know how much butter I eat (the fact I don’t eat meat is probably the only reason my cholesterol isn’t through the roof), but Myrtleford butter is something else – rich, creamy yet with a hint of salt, obscenely yellow, it’s like the Godzilla of butters, stomping in all over every other flavour and roaring “Bow before me, King of Butters, and DESPAIR!.” I want to live in a vat of it.

Maddy had a few options to mull over, thankfully, and the staff were lovely in happily checking with the kitchen to see what she could eat. She ended up building her own brekkie toast with homemade gluten-free bread, fresh avocado, roasted tomato and the house baked beans (apparently always made with oil, not butter). We had been particularly taken with the note on the menu that Red Door’s gluten-free bread supplier’s products are frequently mistaken for their gluten-packed brethren, something of a miracle when it comes to gluten-free breads. Maddy’s delighted cry of “It tastes like real bread!” upon her first bite proved it was not just idle boasting. The plate was wholly devoured, leaving a very satisfied Maddy.

Muffin went with Red Door’s baked eggs. I shamefully did not take much note of them, other than noting that the dish was slicked with a very good, thick looking tomato-based sauce, with little islands of white egg floating about.

Once again, Red Door proved that they are one of the most reliable brunch providers north-side, and will happily cater for those with dietary needs with dishes of equal high standard to everything else on their menu. Good to see!

Red Door Corner Store

70 Mitchell Street, Northcote

Ph: 9489 8040

Red Door Corner Store

It had been a very long time since Phoebe and I had had some brunching adventures. We were lamenting this very fact at a house party a few weeks ago over our glasses of Pimms punch. “I really want to take you to Red Door Corner Store!” said Phoebe, who had recently relocated to the northern suburbs and was full of northerly food recommendations.

“Well, providing we’re not too hungover, why don’t we just go tomorrow morning?” With the prospect of brunch over the horizon, we both managed to keep ourselves relatively nice for the rest of the evening, and languorously reunited the next morning for Saturday brunch.

Red Door Corner Store is located in what appears to be an old suburban milk bar. The fit-out is just cute as a button, with a lot of red detailing and touches like having antique cake tins decorating the walls. The space is also deceptive in terms of size, as apart from the large-ish front room there’s also a dining area out the back with big tables that looked like it would be perfect for families. When it’s full it certainly bustles, but the staff deal with it all admirably, and we never had trouble attracting the attentive staff when we needed them.

Although I was very tempted to try the coconut crumpets, as they had appeared in this article over at Broadsheet in a list of 10 dishes across town to welcome in spring with, I ended up being seduced over to the savoury side of the menu and instead ordered the grilled semolina with spinach, lemon thyme mushrooms, taleggio and Parmesan curls and a fat poached egg.

Oh good goodness, and seduced I was! This will probably, unless I get very, very lucky culinary-wise in the next few months, top my list of the best dishes I’ve had this year. The semolina was perfectly cooked with a pleasing texture that dissolved on the tongue. The mushrooms were plump and delicious, swimming in a gravy of their own juices and olive oil, with a hint of lemony tang. Combined with all that lovely salty cheese and a textbook poached egg, which once popped dribbled decadently over everything, and it’s a sheer wonder of a dish, managing to be both rich to the taste yet light in the tum.

Phoebe had a kind of breakfast tart, whose ingredients I shamefully did not take note of, although I do remember it having a rasher of crispy bacon baked into it, and was served with a side of avocado that had been freshly drizzled with a little bit of olive oil and tasted divine.

I was highly impressed by my time at Red Door Corner Store, and am very keen to get back and sample more of their wares. Perhaps I’ll even get around to those coconut crumpets before spring kicks gear into summer. Only time will tell.

Red Door Corner Store

70 Mitchell Street, Northcote

Ph: 9489 8040

Disco Beans

I love an excuse to go to Northcote. Any excuse, though they don’t roll my ways as often as they used to. See, I used to be a massive gig pig, going to anything that involved music. Set up a man in a sticky-carpeted room tumping on a drum and I’d be there, dancing madly. The Northcote Social Club was a particularly favoured venue, not least because it gave me an excuse to have a pre-show dinner at one of the fab restaurants along the High Street strip.

But these days I’m an old woman and don’t go to as many gigs because frankly, I’m sick of all these whipper-snapper kids annoying the hell out of me! No kidding, I was a brain snap away from beating to death with my book-filled tote bag a couple standing in front of me at the last Mountain Goats gig, who not only were watching what was happening inches in front of them through their iPhones, but were talking loudly all the way through. WHO DOES THAT? ANSWER: JERKS.

But there are always some artists I will brave rude, undeserving audience members for, and this particular evening found Muffin and I searching for a dining venue to precede us watching the delightful Darren Hanlon at the Thornbury Theatre. I had read In The Mood For Noodles’ reviews of Disco Beans and was curious, and as soon as Muffin heard the name she was in. “You just HAVE to check out a place if it’s called Disco Beans!”

We were the very first customers of the evening when we entered the bright room, which is plastered from floor to ceiling with bright pictures culled from Japanese magazines. By the time we left nearly just under two hours later, Disco Beans was heaving at the seams. And there is a very good reason for that: it is AMAZING.

After starting with an appetiser of sorts with a bowl of pod-popping fresh edemame, the main event of the sunset curry with beetroot and beans and the vegan okonomiyaki arrived. Okonomiyaki tends to be tarnished with the junk food brush in my eyes; despite them being chock-full of vegies, all the frying and sauces makes me feel that they just can’t be that good for you. But this particular example with something else: despite being HUGE and lovingly slathered in sauce, it struck me as being the healthiest version I’d yet encountered, being that it was chock-full of a variety of interesting grains as well as the standard shredded vegies. It won’t bore you at all, and tastes pretty damn awesome as well!

The sunset curry has a very apt name, being that it is possesses a bright pink hue that automatically makes you think of skies shot through with gorgeous warm colours at sunset. I was a little concerned about a curry containing beetroot, thinking that the sweetness of the vegetable might not contrast well with curry spices. However, even though it was not an overly spicy curry (I have a feeling Japanese-style ones aren’t supposed to be? This is something to research), what spice there was complemented the sweet and creamy beetroot perfectly. It’s a pretty amazing dish, and if you were to have one thing at Disco Beans I’d recommend it.

For dessert, we both went for cake, surprise! One was a kind of banana cake (I neglected to write down its proper name, apologies), which was amazingly moist and filled with thick seams of pure unadulterated banana, which when smooshed together with the soy ice-cream it was served with proved a decadently delicious mouthful. We also had the awesomely named strawberry fields forever cake, which was a kind of frozen raw cheesecake, full of vegan goodness. Despite our having to wait a little for it to thaw (pinging bits across the table while it was still ice-creamy frozen was entertaining, no doubt, but we wanted cake goodness in our mouths!), it proved the winner of the cake battle. It had that great sweet nutty taste to it, due to the cashews and coconut I suspect, and a delicate strawberry flavour that proved addictive.

We rolled out of the now full and bustling Disco Beans with contented tummies, and went off to the Thornbury Theatre absolutely gushing about our dinner (Mr Hanlon put on an utterly spellbinding show, by the way, and there were thankfully no annoying punters at all). Conclusion: Hooray for Northcote!

Disco Beans

238 High Street, Northcote

Ph: 9077 4772