Before hitting up St Ali North, a visit to the original flagship cafe in the south-side was required. Tucked away in a South Melbourne laneway, the St Ali roasting operation started up in 2003, with St Ali (South) opening in 2005 to serve up locally roasted, specialty coffee to Melbourne’s caffeine addicts. Along with their seasonal Champion blend, the coffee menu features rotating single estate and Cup of Excellence coffees. For bean geeks, there are are filters, cold drips, pour overs and syphons but espressos are the specialty and unwaveringly good; for the bleary-eyed breakfast-er hoping to beat the weekend crowds, nothing better than a sweet, syrup-y Columbian Santuario Red Bourbon espresso to kick-start the morning.
Breakfast at St Ali is always an interesting affair. “The Usual Suspects” are not as pedestrian as the menu heading would suggest; earl-grey poached apricots and orange-blossom yoghurt add interesting notes to the Earl of Yarra Place house-made granola, while a splash of pear whisky syrup over Flip Sheldon porridge makes for cereal worth rolling out of bed for.
Eggs, “From Chickens with Love”, come fried, scrambled, poached or even slow-poached (63/63 vs Cumulus Inc’s 65/65 – collecting votes for which technique works better), with black pudding and cured salmon with a Japanese twist available on the side for a more indulgent take on your standard big brekky.
A breakfast burger delivers The Lot (fried egg, mushroom, bacon and sausage with brown sauce), with a vegetarian version serving up kale and mushroom Between the Buns also available.
For the gourmands, Miso Hungry would have to be the dish of choice; sake, orange and miso cured salmon, served with fried rice, sweet seaweed salad, and a runny fried egg and Kewpie mayo for a delicious saucy mix.
And if it’s all just too difficult, you can always default to their ever-reliable, signature corn fritters; a dish so popular they named a restaurant after it.
The now not-so-secret My Mexican Cousin recipe, tweaked by Chef Chris Hamburger for their new northern venture, is on the website, but I’m not sure a home-cooked version would be quite the same. Looking forward to trying it at St Ali North!