The guys behind Kettle Black and Top Paddock are at it again with the recently opened Higher Ground. We all know I’m lowkey cynical about the present brunch landscape with dishes that look better on Instagram than taste in reality. We walked in with high hopes that Higher Ground would deliver the goods.
Baked beans on toast were reimagined into green slow cooked beans with pine nut crumb and fried croutons topped with two poachies. I’ve said before I’m not a fan of poached eggs, but especially in a dish like this were the yolk amalgamated with the sauce. A bit like soup – tasty soup – but still hoped for more solid textures than liquid.
Meut polished off her mushies with polenta so conclusion was that it was a bangin’ dish.
The fit out is what takes your breath away – the windows! The plants! High ceilings and distressed walls!
You wouldn’t know it, but behind the busy streets of Abbotsford and Richmond lies the Main Yarra/Capital City Trail. With the chatter of birds and the Yarra breezing below, there’s little to indicate its close proximity to the city bustle. Start at Collingwood Children’s Farm and finish at Victoria St, Richmond with a pho or continue trudging on until the trail ends at Fed Square.
With a roof lined with a wave of terracotta pots, it’s hard to miss Gazi on the corner of Flinders and Exhibition St. Unless, of course, you’re me. A few hurried texts to Meutz later (‘Is it Russel St’ ‘Exhibition babe’) and our Friday feast at George’s Melbourne institution was underway.
It was deliciously great – each dish incredibly moreish and layered with well thought-out flavours. We started with a soft shell crab souva each – crispy crab and honey mayo a revelation for Meutz. Fried saganaki arrived bubbling on a hot pate blanketed in fruity kumquat glyko – perhaps too intensely sweet and salty to be shared between just two.
Crispy fried brussel sprouts were paired with pastourma butter, hung yoghurt and chestnut for a rich vegetarian dish. The grilled octopus was a favourite of the waiter, and now one of mine, with black garlic and orange butter lifted with preserved lemon and thyme. All that with a massive side of crunchy chips and feta, and we were happily smashed.
But not enough to pass on dessert – a glorious Baklava Greek-brest pasty choux filled with baklava buttercream. Not a fan of buttercream myself, I didn’t mind this version at all, although traditional baklava would’ve made for a perfect ending.
Spending nine hours a day in the library for two weeks and relying on $7 fish souvlakis from uni is enough to severely dampen any gastronomic intentions – but hallelujah! Exams are over, and another uni semester is done and dusted.
Exams also meant of backlog of Fareshare shifts missed and rescheduled, meaning I’ll be spending some time in their kitchen and around Richmond in the coming weeks.
This particular week, we chose to head to Kitty Burns, a new cafe on the Melbourne radar. Located in between two snazzy apartment buildings opposite IKEA, the interior is decked out with floor to ceiling windows, wooden hut booths, leafy pot plants and an outdoor seating area overlooking the lush Yarra.
I ordered Kitty Greens, with high hopes of roasted greens with hints of caramelisation with toasty almonds. I was left less impressed with the dish – there was so so little ‘house grain’ and while the cos leaves appeared to have grill marks, the other greens seemed to be blanched and bland. I found the dressing acidic enough for the lemon to not be needed, which was instead squeezed onto the pannacotta dish. Biggest gripe was the price tag – $19 for a cold and unfulfilling dish left me relying on Fareshare quiches for a decent meal.
The smoked pea/mint pannacotta was for sure theatrical and aesthetic, but it was hard to see how the components could complement each other. The bacon crumb and salmon delivered that salty hit, although not sure how the toast was meant to fit in with the cold pannacotta. The bean sprouts were sour/bitter and left untouched. Again, this was a cold dish which wasn’t quite enough to warm us up on a chilly day, underwhelming for $21.
For someone who has spent the past few weeks cramming nutrition content, I had raise an eyebrow at the their expansive (and expensive) list of trendy superfood smoothies (MCT oil?) and elixirs crafted by a naturopath (complete with an advisory statement for pregnant/lactating women) .
I was excited to like KB – it’s gorgeous and people are friendly, and perhaps we chose the wrong dishes, but for me it was a case of style over substance. I’ll probably chose the good old bowl of pho for lunch that is exponentially more fulfilling and affordable – and hey, it’s technically #superfood bone broth.
Last week, I embarked on one of the most magical adventures, joined by friends from YFM and Kinfolk Cafe . After an early wake up, we headed to Mount Macedon to forage for wild mushrooms under the guidance of mushie experts Jarrod (from Kinfolk) and Paul (farmer of Day’s Walk Farm). They took us through the two species we were after: Saffron Milk Caps (named for their bright orange secretion) and Slippery Jacks (yes they were slippery and sticky).
I’m that person who gets obsessed easily – listening to the same Tame Impala song over and over and over and over again until I discover a new one, wearing a new jumper every day and neglecting all other woolly counterparts, and having 13 meals in a row of curry until sushi takes over beckoning my heart for another two weeks. This completely rings true for eating out – exemplified by my brisk return to Uncommon (remember that time I went to Vertue 3 times in a week?)
This time, with my parents trailing behind me through Chapel Street, I was met with a 8 person deep queue at the door. A 15 minute wait later and we were seated in the busy but open cafe.
Coffee was fruity and delicious – Industry Beans always hits the spot. As always, my parents headed to the meaty dishes.
Interestingly, the dishes didn’t seem to rely on thick slices of sourdough archetypal to brunch, instead serving up fine proteins and textually diverse salads. The beef didn’t fill up Dad but the duck was just right for Ma. I stuck with my beloved salmon pastrami and herbed eggs – this time looking a little more watery than previous and missing the heat of capers. While not as delicious as before (maybe the weekend rush?), it was certainly filling and delivered that amazing sweet honey/savoury combination.
Second time here and I’m pretty much a qualified expert, so here are my tips – head here on weekdays to skip the queue and noise, go for the salmon or plantbased dishes (turmeric fritters and herbed vine tomatoes are next in line for me), and keep a look out for the Harry Potter lookalike barista who’ll be sure to whip up a magical brew.
Check out round 1 at Uncommon.