Duchess of SpotswoodOctober 1, 2012
So I finally got my butt out of bed, over the Westgate Bridge and into the Duchess of Spotswood last weekend and, having now eaten there, I can safely say I would sprint over that goddamn bridge if it meant another taste of that pork dish!
I like to think the Duchess needs no introduction; surely everyone has heard of the stunning Anglo food coming out of her kitchen, the small and peaceful haven she provides, nestled in a quiet suburban street almost immediately underneath the Westgate Bridge.
People are raging on about American food right now – diners serving up burgers, sliders, hotdogs, onion rings, etc, etc. While I love a good Denise from Huxtaburger every now and then, more often than not I hanker for the comfort of (good) English food. Not stodgy fish & chips (although they too have their place), but simple and warming dishes involving seasonal ingredients where nothing is deep fried.
I like to think this Anglophile attitude arose from studying economics in the UK for a short period, a long grey winter huddled up in pubs and old libraries, but I’m pretty sure it’s been ruminating within me for some years now. The sheer fact that the draw containing my tea is larger than the draw containing my T-shirts suggests this. More telling perhaps, is that all of my foodie celebrity crushes are English – Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson (don’t tell me that woman isn’t incredible), Gary Mehigan.
So we’ve established that I’m a self-confessed Anglophile. But I think even the most stringent and uncompromising anti-monarchist couldn’t help but be wooed by the Duchess, what with her calming colour palate, sophisticated food, friendly service and all round feel-good attitude.
They use Seven Seeds coffee, and both our coffees were delicious, especially when served with a smile! Service was brilliant all round, such a change from inner city places where you are greeted with a sniff and a glance down the nose upon arrival.
A quick word on their breakfast menu; it’s quite small and the prices are a little higher than the usual cafe fare, but the quality of the dishes is stunning; every component was almost restaurant quality.
One weakness I did spot was that almost every dish, save the porridge and muesli, involved eggs. Perhaps I only notice this because my mum is allergic to them, but I’ve often found myself in the mood for breakfast without being in the mood for eggs. Perhaps this is something to look into.
On the other hand, I was very impressed by both the breadth of choice and innovation of the vegetarian options. I was sorely tempted by a beautifully named dish, Simple Pleasures, involving asparagus, broad beans, kipfler potatoes, goats curd and poached eggs.
But the Breakfast of Champignons stole my heart in the end, not least because of its name. A smooth and creamy potato and barley hash with field mushrooms, English stilton (incredibly peppery and earthy combination) and poached eggs. It was brilliant, a slight twist on the usual mushie dish you see on menus. And I loved the look of those smooth, shiny orbs of egg.
The Duchess of Pork, something of a signature dish here, was really, ridiculously good. The regal name suits this slice of crispy pig’s jowl, a compacted brick of shredded and meaty pork flesh, served with two slippery, runny fried eggs and a truffle sauce. Truffle sauce and pig’s jowls before noon? Yes please! Alex, being a teenage boy, was in heaven.
And now for a lil’ bit of egg porn. Nothing like some egg porn on a Saturday morning. My mother will hate that I’m using this term, so just once more for fun’s sake – egg porn.
Alex and I sat there for a good ten minutes, letting the memories of the meal sink in, wishing we hand’t eaten quite so quickly, wishing Spotswood was on the other side of the city. Although, having thought about it, perhaps that’s what makes it so special as a breakfast or lunch treat (at least for people from the eastern/northern areas).
To finish our incredible brekkie, a cheeky ginger and treacle cake (which had me thinking of the treacle monologue by the Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland), which was spicy and not too sweet.
I declare the Anglo-centric fare a winner! Go and pay your respects to the sensational Duchess of Spotswood; you will thank me for it.
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