Monday, June 25, 2012

Small Victories

Small Victories
617 Rathdowne Street
Carlton North
Open: Tuesday - Sunday, breakfast + lunch
Small Victories on Urbanspoon

Hearing about a new cafe in Rathdowne Village opened by Ben Farrant and Alric Hanse, hospo pros from Gill's Diner and The Crimean respectively, instantly piqued my interest and I made sure to add it to the brunch list last weekend. When Weazelby and I arrived there we realised it was housed in the former Rathdowne Street Food Store, just a few strides from the popular coffee spot Tre Bicchiere. Contrary to it's picture perfect oak tree lined street there's always been something a bit 'off' about Rathdowne Village to me, I can't quite put my finger on it. Having said that, I'm always more than happy to try something new especially if it's walking distance from the homestead.

The space has been renovated with a fairly minimal style, although the various dining areas give quite a homely vibe epitomised by the toasty open fireplace in the back room. The service is welcoming and friendly and we were quickly ushered to a table as soon as we stepped in the door.

Small Victories offer a variety of breakfast fare, ranging from simple eggs with sides, baked eggs to sweeter offerings including waffles, porridge and granola. The coffee is sourced from Wide Open Road and surpassed Weazelby standards.

After totally caning porridge all week I had developed a serious craving for a good honest salty breakfast so chose the Small Victories mixed grill baked eggs $18, served with sausage, black pudding, a leek and cheddar croquette, beans and streaky bacon. I was a little intimidated by the list of toppings and slightly fearful that I would receive a huge frypan full of fat but what was delivered was a much tidier, tastefully presented dish.

I loved the beans topped with a zesty gremolata, and the leek croquette was incredibly moreish. The streaky bacon, which is prepared in house, was perfectly smoked and salty. Less impressive were the eggs themselves, one of which was a little overcooked, and the other was underdone with part of the whites still clear. Another little (very tedious) irk was that the dish was classified as baked eggs when it was clearly just assembled in a terracotta dish and the eggs appeared to be fried.

Weazelby also chose a baked eggs dish, going for the creamed corn, streaky bacon, lardo soldier and thyme salt $17. This had obviously been baked, with a delicious crust around the edges of the dish. The corn + thyme pairing tasted fantastically fresh, and the toast soldier was sinfully addictive with it's melted lardo coating. However, Weazelby was a bit perturbed with the meager streaky bacon offering only being a single (stingy) piece.

I do have to mention we both thought the pricing seemed quite steep especially for the make-your-own eggs and sides - with eggs being $10 and sides $5-$6. The high quality of the ingredients is clear, and the sides (i.e. black pudding with pickled walnut and roast apple mayonnaise) are definitely more inventive than the average. But still... I can't say I get that excited about spending $25 on breakfast (yes I am a pig dog and usually get three sides).

Overall, Small Victories offers a high calibre breakfast selection and the quality of the ingredients resonates long after their tasty breakfasts have been demolished.

** UPDATE **
Since reviewing Small Victories many moons ago I must profess how it has now become Weazelby and my favourite breakfast spot, nudging out Mixed Business to number 2. I feel a twang of guilt complaining about the cost of sides, as now having explored all of them and they really deserve their price tag. The summer smoked tomato side is an absolute knockout and the avocado is also a solid performer - with the latest rendition adorned with labne and a walnut and herb dressing. Small Victories are also offering dinner service Wed-Saturday until 10:30pm, I can't wait to check it out.

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