Backstreet Cafe is the new cafe brought to you by the creators of Birdman Eating. I’ve always quite liked Birdman Eating (although I find their breakfasts a bit meh, I’m a much bigger fan of their tapas/dinner menu) so I was excited to try their new cafe. The location (on Kerr Street after Grill’d but before the Marquis of Lorne) is lovely, it feels a little bit out of the way while still being conveniently close to Brunswick St. The outdoor seating also looks great.
Inside is fashionably dark and moody. Actually, I think it was a little more than fashionably dark, especially given that it was lunch time on a 30+ degree day. Despite the lack of light in the back corner where we were sitting I really liked the fit out, although I did find that the tables along the back wall were a little cramped.
With only one egg option (the baked eggs of the day, ham hock and pea when we visited) the menu seemed more geared towards lunch or dinner than breakfast. Maybe this will be a saving grace for people who don’t like eggs and are constantly dragged out for brunch. More than that, I think it’s probably a reflection of the fact that Backstreet Cafe is much more than a breakfast location. I’ve read that the cafe will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week – probably a good reason to move away from the eggs. Backstreet really is trying to cover all meal-bases, as well as serving up dishes at all hours of every day there is a mini gourmet grocer-type arrangement downstairs selling deli goods. Backstreet will also soon be selling take home meals, now that’s what I call a multitasking cafe.
Hiding in the backstreets of Fitzroy, Backstreet Café has appeared in the corner of a new looking apartment block. This seems to be an increasing trend in Melbourne, with high-profile cafes opening up within new developments: the Commons Apartment (www.7florence.st) complex in Brunswick is set to open with a café run by the guys from Dead Man Espresso. Maybe one of the advantages of going vertical is that we don’t have to go as far for a good eat?
One thing I really appreciated about Backstreet Café was that they’ve been able to fit in a number of tables without sacrificing that intimate feel. The fit-out itself is very “on trend”, with as many stools, wooden beams and plants as you could want. The on-street tables are also very cleverly arranged, without appearing cluttered.
The menu, although well stocked, is just a little too detail-spartan for my liking; I like roughly knowing what’s in the dish I’m about to order. Let’s look at the “backstreet banger” which I ordered, it mentions that it comes with condiments, but it gives no indication to what those condiments are, or what kind of sausage will arrive. You’re almost forced into asking the wait staff what’s in a dish before ordering it, as the menu, contrary to its traditional function, just doesn’t tell you.
The stand out dish for me was the fresh mini-doughnuts. You know you’re in for a treat when the waitress tells you they might take a while to cook.
I wanted to try the golden muffin (with sausage, fried egg, cheese and tomato sauce for $11.50 - check it out on Milk Bar Mag here) but unfortunately they were sold out – a good sign about the dish, annoying for me. Instead I had the salty pork belly roll with green olive tapenade ($9.50). The roll was really good, I particularly loved the olive tapenade which gave everything a good salty kick. I have to say though, the roll did look a little lonely on the plate all by its lonesome.
Gerard and my friend the doctor both tried the backstreet banger – a sauasage with roll and a pineapple salsa ($18). Gerard enjoyed assembling the roll himself, the doctor did not. Gerard thought that the sausage was very tasty, albeit a little small. At $18 I’d definitely take the muffin or pork roll over the sausage if I was looking for value for money. Also the doctor ended up being feeling really sick after lunch, unclear whether it was the food, Gerard felt fine.
We also had the dougnuts with honey ($10.50 for 3). They were made to order and certainly fresh, probably not as sweet as I would have liked though. Call me old fashioned but if I’m eating a doughnut I like it to be pretty sugary, the honey certainly helped, but for me it didn’t quite get there. Gerard loved the doughnuts, and in particular the miniature jug of honey.