Bob and I have attempted to visit this too-cool-for-school cafe a number of times since it opened in January. On nearly every occasion, we faced a long queue at the door and my lack of patience always prevailed, taking us elsewhere for breakfast. Last week I happened to be awake uncharacteristically early on a Saturday morning so we hotfooted it down Church St and arrived at 9am to a relatively empty Top Paddock.
The paddock to plate ethic is obvious in the menu; produce suppliers are name-dropped and descriptors like ‘local’ and ‘seasonal’ are thrown in here and there . The line between breakfast and lunch is blurred on the all-day list and tempting options abound, leaving me struggling to choose. Can I have soft-shell crab for breakfast?
I eventually settle on the white anchovies and jamon serrano with fried eggs, padron peppers and manchego on toast ($18).
The jamon was tissue thin and rich in flavour: it was like proscuitto with less fat and salt (that makes it healthy, right?). The tender, savoury anchovy fillets were quite mild, compared to the intensely flavoured cured variety that I am used to. Padron peppers were also new to me. They tasted somewhat like capsicum, but with a nice sweetness to them that took the edge off the bitterness. There was also a little lingering heat that added extra interest to the dish.
Bob chose the local pine mushrooms with chilli scrambled eggs and Boatshed feta on toast ($15.50), which was one of the dishes I had considered myself.
The creamy, melt-in-the-mouth eggs had a nice kick without being ‘spicy’ as such. We were advised that the pine mushrooms indicated on the menu were out of season and would be replaced with a mixture of shiitake, shimeji, enoki and standard button varieties. This was certainly adequate for us mushroom-lovers.
The coffee ($3.80) was also pleasing. It was smooth and sweet, served at the perfect temperature (boiling hot, burnt-tasting coffee really gets my goat).
I was quite blown away by the efficiency of service. Our food was in front of us in what seemed like seconds. I suppose it makes sense, given the regular lines outside. Perhaps I should have had more patience?
The food was top-notch, and given the seasonal approach, the menu probably changes regularly. I can feel a warmth in the Melbourne air, and I look forward to sampling Top Paddock’s spring-focused menu in the near future.
658 Church Street