TOP PADDOCK: Probably one of the most well-known brunch places in Melbourne, along with Hardware Society etc. Top Paddock is owned by the same people as Higher Grounds and The Kettle Black – I have only been to the former. With high ratings and amazing pictures, our expectations were extremely high for this “top notch” cafe.
So we actually decided to walk there from Flinders Street, along the Yarra River and through Melbourne Park to Church Street, where this renowned cafe is located. This was an early morning Wednesday and so we got there around 10am. Being a weekday and school day, there were no lines.. PHEW cos the lines on the weekends and prime brunch time can be a nightmare! (so we heard) We were seated straight away and probably waited only around 15 minutes before receiving our much anticipated Blueberry ricotta hotcake and the Eggs Benedict.. a brunching classic!
So, starting off with the blueberry ricotta hotcake with berries, maple syrup, seeds and cream. The presentation… WOWWWWW never seen anything like it. I had seen pics beforehand online and it really lived up to the expectation. The hotcake itself was barely visible, but the golden yellow peeking through gave the dish an earthly backdrop to the vibrant, rainbow colours of the strawberry, blueberries, herbs, seeds, cream and flowers. To top it off, the cream was garnished with little pink sugar crystals. It is LEGIT INSTAGRAM GOLD. I could probably go on more about presentation but the pictures speak for itself.
Unfortunately, the taste could not really compare to the presentation. The portion size was huuuuuuge and I’m not really sure how one person can finish it. At first, a forkful of the spongy hotcake blends well with the freshness of the fruits, sweetness of maple syrup and mellowness of the cream – the ricotta chunks embedded inside are quite delightful too, but after a few mouthfuls, the hotcake gets annoyingly sweet. The maple syrup seeps to the bottom of the hotcake and you notice that it’s more moist at the bottom. The blueberries inside the hotcake contribute to the sweetness, and even though the fruits are quite refreshing, it does little to balance out the overall sweetness you feel at the end. To be honest, even after trying to dilute with copious amounts of water, my mouth was left feeling uncomfortably sweet throughout the rest of the day. I probably would not order it again.
Now for the eggs benedict with grilled free range smoked ham, poached eggs, pickled kohlrabi, bacon crumb, bearnaise and green chilli pepper. Presentation was once again ON POINT! Amazing artistry to whoever plates these dishes, the 3D, uneven look of the dish is super interesting, with a different perspective from various angles. The colours also work well together. But presentation is really all fool’s gold compared to the taste.
Just a heads up, for those of you unsure, bearnaise is an emulsified egg sauce with vinegar and tarragon – this gives it a much more acidic, sour punch than hollandaise sauce. The thing is that I’m a much bigger fan of Hollandaise sauce, with it’s creamy, mellow flavour than Bearnaise when it comes to Eggs Benedict so maybe I’m not the best person to judge this dish. But for me, the sourness of the bearnaise overpowered the dish. However, the eggs were cooked beautifully, with golden runny yolk flowing over my toast, the smoked ham was my favourite part – it was tasty and thick which is quite unusual for Eggs Benedict, whilst the bacon crumbs on top gave it a subtle crunchy, burnt flavour. The green chilli pepper gives a massive shoutout to those who love the extra PUNCH and could be portioned in moderation with the rest of the elements. Overall, a satisfying dish but no wow factor, especially in comparison to the eggs benedict at Seven Seeds. (Poached to Perfection)
The interior decor is super chic, with stairs up to a higher part of the dining area where we sat. There are also benches with bar chairs on the side, and lights on the walls giving it a modern, but very relaxed feel. It was a very comfortable area to sit and chat whilst feasting after our long morning walk to reach it.