Mon- Sun: Early to Late
Address: 185 Acland Street St. Kilda
Coffee: Ducale Coffee
“St Kilda is a funny area of Melbourne. On its own St Kilda can be described as being weird, exciting, grungy, vibrant, beautiful, cultural, eclectic and lively. It is a suburb which hardly sleeps with its bars, pubs and cafes open to the wee hours of the morning, even on weeknights. There is such a collision of diversity here which is clearly reflected in its cafes and restaurants. Peeling away the sexy and alluring decor, the quality of the food and the overall experience can only be classified as either hit or miss. To put it in perspective, the menu at The Espy is exceptionally good for the price, considering the place needs work!
On the Sunday when the Grand Prix was in full action at Albert Park, we were invited to meet some friends for a casual Sunday brunch at La Roche. La Roche is located on Acland Street, which brings about the presumption that the food should be good. It is a bar and restaurant, providing a menu of ‘pub meals’. The decor is nicely suited to its location, with mood lighting and graffiti themed walls emphasising St Kilda.
The coffee at La Roche is the Ducale blend, served in a modest sized cup. Ducale, I have discovered, is not my favourite blend. It had a rather bitter taste to it with no appealing flavours. This was a little disappointing considering the head of the coffee was a rich tan colour which was very inviting. Whilst the coffee was not the finest, there was always the option of having a beer with your brunch – yes, even at 11am.
La Roche is the first place in a while that I have seen ‘brunch specials’. The Big Breakfast – poached, fried or scrambled on toasted Turkish bread with bacon sausage, tomato & hash brown was at the special price of $11 on Sundays, compared to its usual $16. I took the punt and order the Big Breakfast, allured by this offer. I had elected scrambled eggs and not to my surprise the meal had arrived on a large plate with huge portions. The scrambled eggs were dry, which was unfortunate as I was looking forward to smearing the juicy egg on the turkish bread. The bacon was nice and crispy, but there was the occasion large chunk of fat. The element of the dish which I really enjoyed was the small pork sausages. It burst with a rich pork taste which wasn’t dry or over-smoked taste.
The term Big Breakfast is always targeted for the person who wants a large hearty breakfast. La Roche, in this instance had clearly met that standard. However, what annoyed me with this dish is the poor quality of the food. Having looked around me though, most punters went for the Big Breakfast and I don’t think most cared about the quality of food. I guess at $11, you get what you paid for. More beer money I guess.
La Roche is not a cafe which, in my opinion, is endeavoring to be like Auction Rooms. It’s a place where you can get larger sized pub meals with a pot or two and socialise with your mates and watch the footy. It is also the place where your Saturday night can kick on strong to Sunday morning with eggs and beer. It’s not, in my opinion, a brunch place where you going to find the best eggs or the best coffee. La Roche may just be the definition of St. Kilda – that is friendly, have the ability to consuming beer at any hour of the day and with food which is good but not mind-blowing.”
“The day before we were supposed to check out Proud Mary, my friend the Doctor messaged us and asked if we would like to come for a group brunch down at La Roche, St Kilda. I was tentative, but couldn’t seem to put my finger on what La Roche looked like or was known for. Keen for a good old-fashioned catch up, I convinced Mr LB to hold off on reviewing Proud Mary by a week.
When we arrived on Acland Street, I remembered that I had in fact been here before with a friend for a coffee. I was already disappointed. This place was definitely grungy and a good place to chill out for a beer, but not really the place you would come to for a nice brunch. But hey – perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps this place would surprise me.
For once we were early and crammed into the corner near the entrance. Mr LB has rather long limbs so it was very amusing watching him trying to position his legs under the table. The doctor arrived and it was obvious that our other cohorts were a while away, so we decided to go ahead and order. Nothing on the breakfast menu looked particularly inspired, but I opted for the Veggie Breakfast – poached, fried or scrambled on toasted Turkish bread with mushrooms, spinach, tomato, hash brown & baked beans [$16].
In between receiving our coffees and food, we moved to a smaller, more accessible table. Mr LB looked much more relieved. When our food arrived, I was astounded by the quantity stacked on top of my plate. But the quality… well, let’s see. While the poached eggs were perfectly round they were overcooked. They weren’t completely cooked on the inside, but cooked enough to stop it from oozing out so delectably all over my plate.
The mushrooms were tasty but nothing special. To their credit they were juicy, and salty enough to balance out the dish. The spinach was done simplistically – no frills attached. The hash browns were nice but there was nothing particularly inspired. The potatoes were well mashed and didn’t have chunks of uncooked potatoes within them, so that was nice at least.
The Doctor ordered the Eggs Benedict [$15]. I think it was better than what I ordered, although by the end of it she did say she felt a little nauseous:
La Roche definitely would not be somewhere that I would pick for a ‘nice quiet brunch’. It’s more the kind of place I would come for an evening drink with an old friend for a quick catch up before moving on to another venue. To its credit, the venue definitely captures the Acland Street vibe – grungy, relaxed and very friendly.”
Final thought: “A place for a pub meal with a beer, not brunch.”