August 4, 2014

688 Queensbury Street, North Melbourne

Those of you who don’t know about Beatrix are living half lives. No, really. Half lives. Lives deprived of crusty bread rolls full of flavour and bursting at the seams with slow cooked meat, herbs and garlic aioli. Lives deprived of cake, cake, and more cake. Let me enlighten you.

Beatrix has been one of my favourite cafes for several years now, and I’m a willing victim of owner Natalie’s lunch rolls and all-American cakes. Not only does the woman have a great name, she’s also a bloody great baker and flavour strategist!

In addition to two regular bread rolls per season, Nat puts on a special of the day, which includes any sort of crazy delicious fillings. Think seasonal, think fresh, think full of flavour. Below is a small collection I’ve pulled off my phone from various visits, and trust me, they’re ALL good.

I mean, just check out this one right here – the Rocky – Leo’s ham, buffalo mozzarella, ripe tomato, roughly chopped basil pesto and balsamic roquette. SUCH a great sandwich, and it just proves how far good ingredients can take you.

A BEA-L-T, with grilled bacon, ripe tomato, cos lettuce and apple aioli does wonders for your soul after a morning lecture. Nothing like a bit of bacon to hit the spot.

One of their earlier wintry offerings, the mushroom toastie, with garlic roasted mushrooms, smoked provolone and balsamic roquette.

These next two are from earlier this week – Mr N and Alex both enjoyed ‘the Rachel’, with Warialda Belted Galloway corned beef, melty swiss cheese and a parsley slaw.

I opted for the ‘Just Chicken’, a deceptively simple sounding roll chock-a-block full of Milawa free range chicken in a herb mayo with mustardy lettuce leaves and crispy bits of salty chicken skin, sensational.

Then there’s this little number, the Yotam (named, I assume, after Mr Ottolenghi). Probably my favourite of them all, it’s got slow roasted lamb shoulder, a salad of cucumber and tomatoes with baba ghannouj, pomegranate, labne, toasted pinenuts and a lemony dressed salad.  I’m in love with middle eastern flavours at the moment, so I was all over this like you can’t even imagine.

More middle eastern flavours come in the form of the ‘Sydney Road’: crispy cauliflower felafel, garlicky labne and a cucumber, sesame and coriander salad.

Another favourite of mine is one of the regulars, the Begbie, a bacon and egg roll sexed up with beetroot relish and dressed rocket leaves. It’s get out of town good.

Oh yeah baby, beetroot and egg yolk, mm-hmm!

That’s not even the half of it – I’ve also had fried fish rolls with paprika salt and pickled fennel, and I’ve had slow roasted pork belly with pink lady slaw and crackling, among others. The gist of this list is that it really doesn’t matter which day you go because you won’t be disappointed! They also do veggie versions of many sandwiches for the meat-free among you.
Not hungry yet? We haven’t even begun to talk about the cakes, so prepare yourselves! The daily selection of cakes are, if anything, even more impressive than the daily rotation of sandwiches. As a person that has both a sweet and a savoury tooth (?por qué no los dos?), I get pretty excited by everything on offer here and it’s often Mr N who has to restrain me from having a piece of everything.

Some time ago I wrote a piece on Beatrix for a university magazine, and summed things up quite well:

“Beatrix doesn’t do things by halves which it comes to baking. This is baking, American style. Bostom cream pie, mandarin chiffon cake, mascarpone and raspberry tartlets, coconut shag, quince brown butter tarts, red velvet layer cake, whoopee pies and gingerbread hula hoops all make regular appearances. If you’re really lucky you’ll be there on a day where Elvis cupcakes are available – banana cake with peanut butter cream and bacon praline.” Feeling the need yet? Maybe a few more photos will get you in the right mood.

Whipped ricotta and raspberry tarts, beautifully light.

Rhubarb custard crumbles, as good as they sound.

The Shagg, one of my favourite pastimes…

I’ve never tried a piece of this cake but by God it looks heavenly.

Chocolate whoopee pie (is it a cake? is it a cookie?) and bruleed lemon tartlet.

Carrot cake and quadruple layer red velvet.

Red velvet and lemon tart… I’m sensing a theme here.

Finally, a perennial favourite of mine, the gingerbread hoola-hoops. Often I’ll come to Beatrix for lunch and then buy one of these to munch on in an afternoon class. They never fail to inspire envy!

To the tune of bugs bunny, that’s it folks! If you need any more convincing, just check out Beatrix’s Facebook page or Instagram feed: resistance is futile. Time to pop on the elastic pants and head over to Beatrix for some seriously delicious food. You’ll thank me later.

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