The Kettle Black
50 Albert Road
+61 3 9088 0721
Melbournians take their brunch very seriously. Top Paddock in Richmond draws in a substantial crowd and when the café won Best Café award in The Age Good Cafe Guide 2014, the demand to dine there exploded exponentially, with the queues becoming staggeringly overwhelming. So when the extremely talented people behind Top Paddock opened a new café, I didn’t expect any less of them. From the Instagram grapevine, I caught wind that the waiting time around mid-morning at Kettle Black on their first weekend was a good 45 minutes. And so I thought I’d do the smart thing and check it out on a weekday. That’s what RDOs are for, right?
Fakebooo, Fakebooobooo (FBB) and myself used to have our RDOs fall on the same day. However, since the early start of this year, I had mine changed and Fakebooo, unfortunately, couldn’t get his altered. There went our weekly brunch shenanigans, until just recently, Fakebooo’s RDO got changed to the same day as mine. Yippee!
On a miserably grey and wet weekday morning we rocked up at Kettle Black around 11am, hoping to avoid the lunch crowd and naively thinking we could get a table straight away. Boy were we wrong and that eventuated in a 25 minute wait, of which we occupied ourselves by huddling close to the heaters and getting trigger-happy with the exterior. It’s pretty hard not to, with the beautiful white Victorian terrace juxtaposed to a tall see-through wall, topped with shiny silver diamond scales of the posh serviced apartment. It’s pretty hard to believe 6 years ago, this was the very spot where Cookie Monster and I found ourselves stumbling out of Seven Nightclub in the wee hours of the morning.
As soon as we got seated along a white sterile marble counter, we quickly got into our house blend coffees. The piccolo lattes were bright yet deeply toned, with initial notes of nuts fading off into a fruity aftertaste. FBB’s café latte was surprisingly weak.
The menu offers fancy brunch fare and Fakebooo and I were torn between choices. The sound of a steak sandwich in a charcoal black bun or even the trout on a kale and seaweed salad had us playing tug-of-war for a while. Finally, we decided to get on our choices: burrata for FBB, crayfish roll for Fakebooo and mushrooms for myself (duh).
Crayfish, soft shell crab and lobster rolls seem to be the ‘in’ thing with Melbournians. Having possibly started with the lobster rolls from Golden Fields (which I think is overrated), a couple of cafes have now started offering these delectable crustacean burgers. Kettle Black’s version comes with a soft bun, nestling sweet chunks of crayfish, blanketed by a slathering of yuzu mayo. Although it all sounds really good, we didn’t quite see the attraction the dish and thought that perhaps something was missing.
I, of course, went predictable with mushrooms on toast. These shrooms included shiitake, chestnut and portabella, were dished up cooked and raw, creating a variety of flavours and textures. The pairing of the earthy chewy fungi with creamy rich goats curd always results in a happy marriage. The chestnut powder is an odd sprinkling of pale brown crunchy bits, and leaning towards the salty side, reminded me of furikake.
FBB had the winning brunch dish that morning. The burrata had been torn across the wilted chard and toast, with the rising heat causing the stretchy cheese to melt delicately around the sides. The heirloom tomatoes were bursting with sweetness and went beautifully well with the creamy mozzarella.
Of course, we couldn’t leave without something sweet. We shared a peanut butter doughnut, supplied by Doughboys Doughnuts. Once again, great texture but way too sweet. I made away with a brownie and a gluten-free orange cake. The brownie was rich and fudgy and the orange cake was moist and could use more citrus.
Kettle Black is going to stay on every brunch-fiend’s radar for a more than a while. Go early or go real late. Or just simply turn up, put your name down on the waiting list and work up an appetite with a run around Albert Park Lake.