RUSTICA CANTEEN, MELBOURNE CBD: Down a windy alleyway away from the bustling streets of La Trobe and Melbourne Central, Rustica Canteen is a rather-undiscovered little gem compared to the hyped up other inner city cafes. If you couldn’t already tell by the title, this is definitely one of my favourite brunch places so far, with hearty portions, flavours that tantalise the tongue, and dishes of aesthetic artistry.
We arrived about 9:30 on a Saturday to find ourselves seated surprisingly straight away in the petit interior. A bit later on, however, a line had started forming outside. I have to give a out shout to our waiter-of-unknown-name whose helpful, bubbly vibe meant it was one of the best customer service experiences I have had so far!
Wholemeal Waffles (Raspberries, poached apple, mascarpone, puffed quinoa rice and salted caramel coulis) – $17.0
Additional props go to our waiter as we were really keen on trying the pomegranate dust from the Vanilla Panna Cotta dish (sounds exotic right? hehe) and gave the request to the chef to add it in for us!
The good fat: Spectacular presentation, with a splendid array of colours and decked beautifully in a geometric layout. The flavours were also superb. The puffed quinoa was crunchy, blending perfectly with the freshness of the mascarpone and raspberries. Having never tried poached apple before, I enjoyed the way the pieces fell apart tenderly and added an extra hint of apple-y sweet and sourness. The salted caramel on the side wasn’t too sweet by itself, but gave the warm waffle an optional sugary kick. In my opinion, definitely the best sweet brunch dish I’ve had as I didn’t feel the sickening sugar overload like Top Paddock’s ricotta hotcakes. (Top Notch Top Paddock?)
The bad fat: Nothing bad nor improvement I can really suggest, I guess just not shockingly blown away the flavours (except for presentation)
Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict (Poached eggs, tabasco hollandaise, fennel and red radish salad on pumpkin sourdough) – $19.0
The good fat: Once again, blown away by the presentation. I loved the 3D obliqueness of how they stacked the sourdough on top of each other, balanced by the pulled pork and poached eggs, all lathered in hollandaise sauce. WOW the pulled pork is bursting with flavour. The spiciness of the tabasco with the tender strips of pork worked beautifully with the crunchy freshness of the salad, which had a hint of sourness from the radish. The eggs were poached perfectly and the sourdough soaked it up like a sponge. The mildness of the hollandaise sauce meant the overall dish was a beautiful balance of taste and textures. Plus, the sourdough wasn’t too hard to cut through which is a great bonus!
The bad fat: Sourdough can get soggy (you can’t really blame the dish though) from the runny yolk, and I couldn’t really taste the pumpkin. I would’ve preferred a slightly richer, egg-ier Hollandaise sauce just to perfect my personal preference, especially with the spicy kick from the pulled pork.
SHOULD YOU GET FAT HERE?
ABSOLUTELY YES – Undoubtedly one of my favourite brunch places so far with chill vibes, speedy, friendly service, hearty portion sizes and delicious food.