December 19, 2012

356 Street, Collingwood

I recently caught up with A, who has just finished her psychology honours thesis and is enjoying the fresh air and free society of melbourne, having finally escaped the library. I too was newly liberated from the books, and Tomboy, a relative newcomer to the Smith street crowd, was our venue of choice.

Walking in, I instantly liked the place. Apart from having the gosh darn prettiest window display in all of Melbourne, inside the small cafe is surprisingly spacious and calming. At the back of the room is a large communal table that I found particularly interesting – it looks like it used to be a workman’s bench, covered in notches and bruises and dents.

There’s a mint green theme brought in by some attractive light fittings, and a rather sombre but funny looking street art cartoon of a moustached, tattooed baby on one wall. The staff are very friendly and relaxed, and even though A was late in arriving, I felt completely comfortable sitting by myself, sipping a coffee and flipping through the paper.

The menu is concise, somewhat exotic and well thought out – I liked the sound of a number of dishes, in particular the smashed pea and broad bean (the spring incarnation of smashed avo) on toast with dill, mint, grilled asparagus and a crumbed egg. Yes peas!

Most of the dishes are breakfast-like, apart from a few lunchy offerings (lamb hotdog with haloumi, olive salsa and ouzo mayonnaise, anyone?), and a cabinet of salads and sandwiches.

I decided on the orange blossom yoghurt with poached stolen fruit, pistachio praline and pomegranate. I ask you, have you ever seen a prettier breakfast dish?

It tasted pretty damn delicious too – an enormous dome of honeyed yoghurt, topped with juicy segments of peach and a pretty sprinkling of pistachios and pomegranates. Perfect for a hot summer morning.

Seven Seeds coffee is very smooth, with a gentle hint of caramel – had a delicious, delicious flat white that I enjoyed greatly while reading Lucky Peach, David Chang’s trendy food quarterly.
The issue I read included a “chose-your-own-way” adventure involving a taste-off between Texan and Californian versions of Mexican food. You know, the childish kind where at the end of the page, you’re given a choice of “go to page 34 if you decide to hop on a plane to Austin in the hopes you’ll meet Matthew McConaughey at his favourite Tex-Mex restaurant” or “go to page 73 if you’re keen on challenging Big Barry to a taco eating contest” (for the love of god, do not challenge Barry!)

I forgot to mention earlier, but the cafe is owned by the two lovely ladies from the wholesale business Box Brownies, Pia Hambour and Georgina March. They provide scrumptious goodies to cafes such as Seven Seeds, De Clieu and Brother Baba Budan. Everything that’s baked in-house (and most sweets on display are) is gluten-free. Gluten-free and, I should take care to add, DELICIOUS.

A large variety of brownies beckoned; white chocolate, turkish delight, walnut. In the end, the pink fluorescence of freeze dried raspberries was too alluring to resist – A and I practically dived upon it, pulling apart the sticky, fudgy cake – rich but not too rich – chocolate punctuated by sharp tangs of raspberry. Across the room, an elderly couple were just as eager-faced when their brownies arrived.

After breakfast, A nicked my camera and had a wander around – here are some more photos of the interior design. As you can see, they’re going for a sort of vintage, recycled theme.

Out the back is a small courtyard – I especially liked the large labrador lounging handsomely on the cool concrete floor.

I’m sure I needn’t say more to entice you over to Tomboy – surely the mere sight of that sticky, chewy chocolate brownie just about has you frothing at the mouth. That or the promise of tasty, prettily presented breakfast dishes and smooth coffee. So what are you waiting for?

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Filed under: Brunch, Coffee, Collingwood