This little cafe and wine bar stands out among the bustle of Glenferrie road with its cute white picket fence and colourful, striped overhang. The place has a very homely feel to it: there are ‘family’ photos on the wall and the bar is styled as a household kitchen, complete with cookbooks and a retro-looking French stove.
The front page of the clipboard-menu tells us a little about the philosophy behind Crabapple, of fond memories and simpler times. This sense of nostalgia is apparent in the decor, and to a lesser extent, the menu.
The all-day breakfast selection is made up mostly of slightly-modernised breakfast classics, as well as some travel-inspired options. At the time of writing these were Indian-style baked eggs in curry and Swedish ocean trout bruschetta.
I started my breakfast, as I always do, with a coffee.
My Campos latte was quite strong and slightly burnt tasting. It wasn’t particularly enjoyable.
Baked beans ($17.50, +$3 for a poached egg)
The baked beans consisted of ‘cannellini beans braised in rich tomato with garlic & herbs, gratinated Taleggio and bruschetta for mopping’. I chose to add the egg, as I usually do when it is available (although I did think $3 was a bit rich).
Chunks of onion, celery and carrot gave the beans a homemade feel to them, which was comforting and very much consistent with the overall feel of the place. The bruschetta was well seasoned with a good balance of EVOO, garlic, oregano and salt flakes. It was a bit too crisp for ‘mopping’ as such but nevertheless was tasty and an appropriate match for the beans.
These were none other than Crabapple’s famous Myrtleford buttermilk pancakes with banana, salted peanut praline, whipped Mascarpone & pure Canadian maple syrup. Well, perhaps not famous exactly, but I sure have heard a lot about these pancakes since Crabapple’s opening in June last year.
They were thick and buttery, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, swimming in sweet syrup. The embedded soft banana chunks, peanut pieces and generous dollop of vanilla-seed flecked creamy mascarpone topped it all off, resulting in a dish so decadent it wouldn’t be out of place on a dessert menu. It trod a fine line between heavenly and sickening. I leant more towards the former after the few bites that I had, although my friend who ate the majority of it tended more towards the latter opinion. The pancakes would probably be better shared between two, rather than eaten alone.
There’s no denying that Crabapple Kitchen has a little bit of old-world charm. The extent of its appeal is obvious from its clientele, which is a little different to what I usually see; there are families with kids, over 60’s, and nary a hipster in sight.
The selection of food is good and of a decent standard. Prices are reasonable, although the cost of additional eggs was a little questionable ($3?).
Overall Crabapple Kitchen has done well to separate itself from the ever-growing crowd of converted-warehouse, thrift-shop-cutlery, bicycle-on-ceiling type modern Melbourne cafes. I’m sure it will be here to stay, and I will certainly be back.Crabapple Kitchen 659 Glenferrie Road Hawthorn