It’s 9:30am and I’ve just had what I can call the longest sleep in I’ve had in a while. Deciding on my day off that it would be nice to go out for breakfast, we started the lengthy process of choosing between cafes that we have tried, and liked, or risking it and trying something new. With a place in mind, my boyfriend kept it to himself as he began to drive in towards the city. When we parked and started walking, he remained silent until we had arrived at what appeared to be the new Dukes Coffee Roasters in Flinders Lane.
Amazed at the fact that there was now another Dukes café, I was completely oblivious to the fact that unfortunately on Sundays, it’s closed. Wahh!!!! With a back up plan at the ready, it wasn’t too long before we were back in the car and driving back towards South Yarra to a place called Café Gaia.
Arriving at the café, it was very busy and had a small group of people waiting to be seated out the front. Dying for caffeine, I joked to my boyfriend that if we were to wait in line, I will need a take away coffee first. Agreeing to stay as we were told it was only a 10-minute wait on tables of two, I was even more impressed when the staff member offered us take away coffees without us even asking. She was very friendly, switched on and coped well juggling the busy café.
Quite content with my delicious long black (even for a take away cup, which is rare for me), waiting outside was actually quite nice. It was sunny, the leaves were falling and there was a white husky puppy with the most beautiful coat sitting quietly out the front. I could have waited happily for another hour..
We were led inside towards the window seats and immediately given menus whilst offered more coffees. They had a lot of tables to turn over, however we didn’t feel rushed or hassled. The only thing that felt a bit awkward was the set up of the room. It appeared that this café was once a small house, and although everything worked and flowed perfectly fine, it seemed a bit un-structured with tables scattered closely together in no formation. Nevertheless it didn’t seem to be a problem or slow down the staff as they moved swiftly throughout the café attending to customers.
Coming close to 12pm, the kitchen was about to begin serving the lunch menu. Although we had come out for breakfast, and despite it being my favorite meal of the day… I simply couldn’t draw myself away from the Lamb and quinoa salad.
The flavor in this dish was remarkable. It was well balanced with each ingredient playing an important role on my palate. Smokiness from the almonds, sourness and spice from the lemon and harisa yoghurt, sweetness from the sweet potato and currants, all enhanced by the decent amount of parsley and mint. The chef seemed to have put a lot of thought into this salad as it had a good ‘mouth-feel’. By this I mean, the sweet potato was cut to mouth size pieces (easy to eat) and was soft to bite through. The almonds were large enough to give it a real crunch and the lamb was succulent. The currants were chewy and the harisa yoghurt was spicy yet soothing on my tongue. The quinoa and burghul gave it nice substance and it wasn’t over done, leaving me feeling stuffed!
It seemed today was an un-predictable day for both of us, and just like me skipping out on breakfast and ordering lunch instead, my boyfriend did something I’ve never seen him do before. He ordered it all and settled for café Gaia’s version of a big breakie.
Labeled ‘Ace’s big breakfast’, it came with bacon, chorizo, mushrooms, slow roasted tomatoes, avocado and poached eggs, all for $19.
The only down fall was that if you wanted a piece of toast, it was an extra dollar. Slightly strange as it is an essential part of the breakfast, he ordered however and took it up to $20.
Preventing me from eating my delicious lunch, he begged me to try one of his mushrooms. As I speared it with my fork and tasted its delicious buttery flavor, the reason for his interruption was justified, and he was forgiven. He commented on the meal saying it was the best chorizo and best bacon he had ever had. I knew that this chorizo had to have been incredible for him to say that as he has tried many a good chorizos! He also like the size and presentation, saying the micro herbs were unexpected and gave it a nice touch!
As we left the cafe, I still had a slight tingle on my tongue from the spicy harisa yoghurt. Extremely satisfied, it was the perfect start to the day!
Cafe Gaia – Shop 3/4 Avoca St, South Yarra, VIC, 3141