My Ideal Gastronomic Work Day

January 10, 2012

At the moment, for various reasons, my life is too busy for long lunches and indulgent dinners mid-week. Heck, even getting up before 10am on a Saturday to go for brunch is a bit of a stretch! So while I’ve got plenty of places on the back-burner that I should write about, I’ve neither the time nor the inclination at the moment to do them justice.
So I’ve decided to write posts more suited to my current situation. Most fitting of all, probably, is a hypothetical work-day for me, from a food perspective. I tend to eat all of my meals away from home during the week (not always as blissful as depicted in this post), so this seems particularly appropriate.
My ideal work day would go like this:
The Hardware Societe
120 Hardware St, Melbourne
9078 5992
There’s simply no other option, really. The winner is the Hardware Societe, hands down. Nothing can compare, in my mind. I’ve written about the Hardware Societe previously, but I’d never managed to get there for breakfast before. Although I work at the other end of town, if I happen to get my butt out of bed and onto a tram early enough, I’ll take it up to Queen St and trot down the lane to this delicious cafe of marvels.
The coffee here is superb, and comes with a free mini-doughnut, but I feel the hot chocolate deserves a write-up too. My first breakfast visit was the day of my University Graduation, and unseasonably cold, so I felt the hot chocolate was appropriately warming and ceremonial. They present you with a cup nestling a chunk of velvety soft couverture chocolate and a dash of cream, and then you pour a humungous jug of warmed coco over it and melt the chocolate with your spoon. Do try it.

To contrast the rather heavy warm drink I had just consumed, I decided on the coddled eggs for breakfast. I really enjoyed the eggs themselves, the yolks were perfectly runny and steaming hot. They came with three fancy soldiers of bread, one with salmon tartare, one with mushroom duxelle and another with rabbit rillette. All were delicious and light, although I did find a large piece of gristle in my rabbit, which was unpleasant.

It was on my first visit that I noticed these interesting ingredients in the line-up for the breakfast shift. In particular, what, or where, on earth could neon meringue pieces belong?


This is the fried almond croissant with roasted peaches, raspberry coulis and the aforementioned neon meringue, that I had on my second visit (the same week, embarrassingly). As the owner commented to me as I was tucking in “Isn’t it fabulous? It’s my answer to the question, “What is the ultimate french toast?”. I could only nod, cheeks full of almond-y croissant and a fine layer of neon pink dust settling on my shirt.

Honestly this dish if ridiculous, I feel like breaking into manic laughter every time I describe it to my friends. Massive sugar hit, but boy, oh boy were those baked peaches good!

But the creme-de-la-creme, the piece-de-resistance, the masterpiece, is a dish I’ve only recently started to enjoy outside of home: the bircher museli. This is always on the Hardware menu, although they switch up the accompaniments every now and then. At the moment it’s the mouth-watering combination of rhubarb, mango and pistachios.

Give me a serve of this plus a latte and I am HAPPY AS A CLAM. Honestly, run, don’t walk, to the Hardware Societe for their bircher (but not tomorrow because they’re on holidays till the 16-Jan).

Mid-Morning Coffee (And Cheeky Danish)
22 Ridgeway Place, Melbourne
9663 3225
I’ve written about Liaison before, this is more just to point out that they have delicious pastries on offer (which I’ve only ever had as breakfast but which I’m sure would make a delicious snack). An unusual combination I thought I’d write about was rhubarb. While I would have preferred the rhubarb to be cooked slightly more, I did enjoy the tartness as a welcomed contrast to the over-sweet fruit one sometimes finds in danishes.
130 Little Collins St, Melbourne
9004 0322
Famish’d is a brilliant little cafe that does a roaring trade with the corporate crowd, Monday to Friday, 7am till 4pm. And it’s no wonder really, they’ve got a brilliant thing going on here. Well-priced food that is quick, fresh and delicious. They specialise in salads, and have a daily selection of four pre-made salads (which I usually get) plus a huge assortment of ingredients you can use to build your own. They also do a very nice avocado and feta on toast in the mornings, which I’ve indulged in a number of times.
On the particular day that I had my camera, I ate a delicious and fresh mix of salads including “Mushy Madness” a sort of mushroom coleslaw, “Olive Grove” with baby spinach, pesto and penne, “Bring on the Beans” with greens and canellini beans and corn, and another wonderful salad called “Pecorino Power” with green leaves, pecorino and mandarin segments. Such an unusual but refreshing combination!

A huge, huggable bowl of salad plus a slice of sourdough or seeded La Madre bread will set you back only $11, so it’s no wonder Famish’d does such a great trade! I’m here almost every day, and the ever-rotating menu of salads keeps me interested.

Props also to their brilliant coffee. They use St Ali roasted beans, and the barista is one helluva gal – boy can she pull a nice latte! They also come with a free chocolate meringue bite, which makes me smile.

Edoya Japanese
128 Russell Street, Melbourne
9654 7358
Far more often than not I end up having dinner at work, at my desk, having ordered in take-away from various places. But occasionally I will take an hour to walk about and have a proper meal in a restaurant to relax and clear my head. “Me time”. Here I’m writing about Edoya, but I’ve eaten equally as often at Miss Chu while at work, a brilliant little Vietnamese place at the top end of Exhibition. But I’ll write about that in a separate post later, so look out for it.
Underneath a Taco Bill is an unassuming restaurant with tacky plastic food displays in the window, equally plastic chairs, unimpressive fake wooden tables, faux-wood paneled walls and educational posters on “Can You Pick the Fish?” and “Sushi: Japan’s National Food”. Not at all the kind of place my friends would expect me to frequent. But the fact is, I love it.

In fact, I am loathe to share it since I feel like it’s something specially and preciously my own. Edoya was my saving grace over the Christmas period when I was working but no cafes/restaurants were open. It was pure bliss, being able to stroll casually along Collins, up Russell and into a small alcove of tranquility and raw fish. They play soft traditional Japanese music, and the waitresses (all Japanese) wear robes and thongs (with socks) which I find adorable.

I started off with an Asahi (I’m not usually a drinker when I still have work to do but I only had half an hour of spreadsheet formatting to finish so no harm done) and a small complimentary bowl of my favourite beer-snack-not-commonly-eaten-with-beer-but-one-that-should-be-because-it-is-delicious, edamame.

I also ordered a miso soup that was fresh and light and included an excellent array of inputs including spring onions, baby spinach, mushrooms, tofu, vermicelli noodles and some fabulously thick green strips of kelp that made me think it came from this. Imagine eating giant kelp. How fabulously adventurous! (It probably wasn’t giant kelp, this is just me fantasising). I can also vouch for a serve of their Agedashi tofu, which comes hot-to-trot with a tangy broth and silken tofu.

It really is preposterous how much I like sushi. Pictured below is my favourite dish from Edoya, a half serve of the House Special Sushi. It varies every day, although always includes a mix of salmon and tuna sushi/sashimi, plus a variety of extras. On the night that I went, the house special included:

  • A truly brilliant oyster with a soy-sauce marinade
  • Sashimi of salmon, tuna, kingfish and mackerel
  • Sushi of salmon, tuna, prawn, egg and california rolls (not such a fan – I think it’s the “crab stick” that always puts me off)
  • Wonderfully smoky eel and fish roe sushi

Edoya is a gem. The service is attentive and the (non-sushi) prices are cheap (sushi prices are reasonable given the quality of the fish). Please try it, but not when I’m there, so I can maintain my facade of secrecy!

After-Work Drinks
Go-Go Bar
125 Flinders Lane, enter via Higsons Lane or Chin Chin
Of course there are a dozen bars that I could have put in here for their excellent wine lists or fancy schmancy cocktail concoctions. But the Go-Go Bar, Chin Chin’s latest subterranean installation and “waiting room”, is brilliant for its proximity to my office, its dim lighting that doesn’t reveal the purple tinge under my eyes, and also for its Thai Basil cocktail, which is a refreshing and all-too-enticing drink to be enjoyed of an evening.

The Hardware Société on Urbanspoon Liaison Cafe on Urbanspoon Famish'd on Urbanspoon Edoya Japanese on Urbanspoon