Rustica CanteenNovember 22, 2015
33 Guildford Lane, Melbourne
Nick and I have been coming to Rustica Canteen pretty often. I mean, seriously often. He lives around the corner and it’s become our go-to place in a very big way. We’re here almost every weekend, usually for breakfast but sometimes for lunch. It really depends on how early we get to the Vic market to do our food shopping. The staff have started to recognise us. We’ve already got our “favourites” on the menu. If I stay over at Nick’s mid-week, we even stop by for a cheeky pre-work breakfast roll stuffed with fried eggs and bacon. We’re just crazy like that.
The point is, I’m here a lot, so I know what I’m talking about when I tell you that this place is kick ass. This place is the best. I’ve been thinking for a while about why I like Rustica Canteen so much. A couple of things come to mind: great breakfast and lunch menus, pleasantly busy but we’ve never had to queue, strong pastry game, good coffee, and a convenient location. But the real reason? Their bread. See here’s the thing. I love bread. I straight up love it.
And the people at Rustica Canteen love their bread too. Baked at their bakery in Fitzroy, they feature many of their best loaves on the menu. The roasted pumpkin is an excellent option, as is the seedy wholewheat. I would recommend the fig and fennel to have with cheese, or a brioche bun if you’re making burgers at home. And of course there’s always the organic white sourdough loaf, all by artisan baker Brenton Lang.
All are showcased in the menu designed by ex-Touchwood chef Tristan White. The menu is neatly broken down into a small list of strong breakfast options (which from memory are available all day), and then some sandwiches and salads for lunch.
Nick’s all time favourite is the chilli scrambled eggs on sourdough with bacon, spring onion and manchego cheese. He rarely orders anything else (apart from maybe a cheeky breakfast roll) when we’re there, and I can’t really blame him. The eggs are creamy and plentiful, nicely spicy and served on two slices of thick cut sourdough. A very generous serve, the only thing that would improve this dish is a little butter on the toast, but the staff are always more than happy to oblige.
My “go-to” tends to be the beautifully presented avocado on toast. Unlike many other cafes where “avo on toast” means two slices of toast with half an avocado that you have to scrape out of its shell yourself (at best worth $5, but always seemingly on the menu for $15), this is far more interesting. Coming with a poached egg, lots of Persian feta, some crazy pink pickled onion and sprinkled with toasted seeds and sumac salt, it’s a more than worthy breakfast. I also love saying “I’ll have the seedy toast with avocado, please”, particularly on mornings when I’m feeling a bit seedy myself! Like with Nick’s chilli eggs on sourdough, the seedy toast is another standout.
The usuals suspects: chilli scrambled eggs and avo on toast. The breakfast menu also includes the build-you-own eggs on toast, a great dish of crispy skin ocean trout, and a delicious sounding brioche toast with nutella, banana and hazelnuts.
So we’ve got breakfast covered. How about lunch? Lunch, if anything, is even better. They have a few yummy sounding salads, but I can never go past a sandwich when I know how great the bread will be. The last time we were there, Nick and I shared two sandwiches.
The first was a special of the week, with roast turkey, cranberry sauce, brie, pickled onion and rocket. I was sceptical at first but it tasted fantastic – classic mix of turkey and cranberry with an oozy slice of brie. Having said that, I’ve also got my eye on the garlic and rosemary slow roasted lamb sandwich with watercress, onion and mint sauce. And I’d love to get my paws on the panko crumbed flounder with lettuce and lime aioli in a brioche bun.
The second sandwich we tried was even better than the first. Cayenne roasted chicken teams up with kale, corn and a tangy lime aioli to make a kick ass sanger. The pumpkin bread is particularly tasty, and they fry off the chicken a little just before making the sandwich, so it’s warm and crispy. Really really delicious.
Now we’ve checked off breakfast and we’ve checked off lunch. Only morning / afternoon tea remains, and Rustica Canteen is the kind of place where you definitely don’t want to skimp on the sweets! Rustica is particularly well known for their croissant pastry delicacies, in particular their cronuts which often sell out early on weekends at their Brunswick bakery. Flavours include lemon curd, matcha and strawberry, and milo.
They’ve also got a delicious looking range of freshly piped donuts. These little puppies had a cookies and cream filling, but they also had chocolate honeycomb donuts and creme brûlée donuts on the day we were there.
Next to the donuts are the more refined looking pastries, including a lemon meringue tart, a beautiful looking blueberry tart, and a series of eclairs. It’s a real exercise in self restraint, coming here and not buying a sweet.
The piece de resistance of their patisserie crown is the ispahan croissant, a croissant filled with a rose, lychee and raspberry filling. There’s also a touch of frangipane filling to bind it all together into a sweet, fragrant mouthful. While not as crispy and flakey as croissants from, say, Lune, these are a real treat with a flat white and a newspaper on a Sunday morning.
We ended up taking one of the ispahan croissants home with us, along with a caramel and toffeed walnut cronut. Both were delicious and did very well for our afternoon tea that day! I particularly enjoyed pulling apart the many layers of the cronut to reveal a delicious caramel custard filling.
“We got what you knead”, yes indeed, yessiree! Pop into Rustica Canteen for a bite or two, and definitely a sweet treat to have with your coffee.
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