August 23, 2012 1 Comment
Mon – Fri: 7am – 4pm
Sat – Sun: 8.30am – 4pm
Coffee: Social Roasting Company
Note: STREAT cafe replaces what was formally the Social Roasting Company. See our review of Social Roasting Company here.
“If you have ever watched Steve Jobs’ Standford University Commencement Speech there is an interesting statement he makes, which is confronting and slightly morbid: ‘death is the single best invention- it’s a life changing agent to clear out the old for the new’. We all have our favourite things – be it ‘that old shirt’ right down to where we eat for brunch. It gives us certainty on what to expect and is consistent, ensuring a positive experience time and time again. However, being on the top and providing a constant level of happiness can never be sustained over long periods of time unless there is change. It’s with this that we are saddened to see our beloved Social Roasting Company change hands over to an organisation tackling youth homelessness head on, STREAT.
With a lot of small cafe acquisitions, my biggest fear is they really fluff up what was once a terrific brunching institution. However, STREAT must have performed their due diligence thoroughly. It’s immediate when you walk into STREAT that it’s not Social Roasting Company. There is intriguing artwork hanging to the left upon entering, which can be purchased if you are that way inclined. The cafe space itself is cleverly designed with traffic sign fixtures -think hanging lights with a lamp shade made out of a stop sign and round about arrows fixed to the barista station. Apart from the noticeable changes, the cafe ambiance remains the same – chilled with a rustic assortment of furniture where one can enjoy some coffee, food and the weekend paper.
Once we sat down, the first thing on my mind was to order a long black [$3.50]. My coffee had a clear, inviting coffee head which was followed with a lovely, smooth tasting coffee. I wouldn’t say it’s as smooth as a Proud Mary blend but it’s surely close to the mark. It was a good coffee and its shame there was no single blend on offer.
I had decided that it was time to remove myself from the safety of my favourite dish The Gather – poached eggs, wilted spinach, mushroom, hash brown, tomato and basil pesto on seeded sourdough [$18]. I’ve been trying to convince Miss SL to visit Huxtaburger lately, and my burger craving has starting to rapidly build. With this in mind, I went with what my gut wanted – a Beef burger with a grilled grass-fed Gippsland beef pattie, bacon, cheese, aioli, relish, salad + fries [$15.50].
It was an impressive all-rounder burger to give any good pub a run for its money. I particularly like the duo sauce – the top bun was a fantastic tomato relish with wholegrain mustard seeds and the base bun had a great soft aioli. The beef patty had a true authentic taste without feeling too heavy or chewy and was made completed with melted cheese (yum!). The chives on top of the bacon was a great touch and added a nice herb flavour to the burger. While it may not look like the largest burger, you will certainly be filled or even possibly defeated by this monster.
The saying is ‘out with the old and in with the new’ and I think STREAT have set themselves up perfectly to carry the baton that Social Roasting Company had developed over the years. It’s the time now to look at the street ahead and improve on what has been provided. We look forward to what happens next.”
“Social Roasting Company has long been a favourite of Mr LB and myself. In fact, it was the first cafe we ever went together, starting our enduring passion for Melbourne brunch. Over the years we have returned to try different things on the menu, always marveling at the wonderful job Social Roasting Company did for Melbourne’s homeless. It made sense that, when we finally returned, it had been taken over by STREAT – an organisation dedicated to feeding the world’s homeless by teaching them life skills in the hospitality industry.
STREAT already has quite the reputation with their soup cart in Federation Square, which opened in 2010. They have been busily building their brand – now with a total of two cafes and two ‘streat’ carts fully operational.
We arrived to a mild change in decor. The lighting fixtures had changed, a zebra crossing meanders across the side of the barista station but overall the cafe maintained a relaxed environment. We helped ourselves to a table and pondered over our options, happy that they decided to stick with the whole ‘giant chalkboard menu’ thing that Social Roasting Company had going for it. The service was a little sloppy to start off with – the girl who was taking orders and seating customers practically ignored us and didn’t really attempt to chit chat or make us feel welcome (we later found out that she was intensely hungover – her spirits lifted towards the end of our meal).
I wasn’t in the mood for coffee and so decided on an old fashioned banana milkshake [$6] and- oddly enough – combined it with the Baked eggs with hash browns, cherry tomatoes, olives, Spanish onions and basil with toasted pide [$16]. My drink came out in one of those marvelous old school milkshake mixers – which equates to about 1.5 milkshakes in a normal milkshake glass (I’ve done the maths before!). My drink was really delicious in that banana-lolly kind of way. It was the right thickness, sweet and cooling.
My baked eggs came out and our waitress was singing to herself – her mood was lifting. My eggs didn’t look too shabby at all. I knew immediately that the eggs themselves on top would be slightly overcooked, but I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying my meal. When I cut into the first egg, it oozed very slowly out of its holdings. Thick and gooey, it was a lovely mix with the tomatoes used as the main sauce. The second egg, unfortunately, was too far overdone, and didn’t ooze at all. What a shame. The hash browns didn’t really taste like hash browns at all – they were more like much-needed chunks of potato, breaking up the flavours and adding density.
I’ve come to realise recently that I’m fussy with chorizo and so while the sausage used here was nice, it was not spicy enough for my liking. While I sound like I’m complaining about this dish, I’m actually not. Overall the meal was quite delicious, but it seemed to miss that spark that I’ve come to expect of good quality cafes.
STREAT have done a good job transitioning into taking over Social Roasting Company. I like that they have maintained some of the elements from their predecessor, including the best parts of the menu and the coffee. While their service levels perhaps needs a bit of tightening, the quality of the food that came out was as good as any other cafe. I certainly think giving the homeless a try to re-establish themselves is a great initiative – so why not give yourself a feed and do something good for society with the money you spend? Get yourself down to STREAT and see if you can spot the difference, because I’m sure you won’t be able to!”
Final Thought: “Brunching for a good cause”