Mon – Sat: 7am – 5pm
Sun: 7am – 4pm
Coffee: Cisco Coffee
“‘Argh, the Brighton bubble!’ Explained my work colleague as I was mentioning how well-connected and friendly everyone in Brighton was whenever I venture down the road. The only scathing experience I had was being booed at by a large group of middle-aged men for failing a three-point turn on Church Street. It was explained to me that the Brighton bubble is like a warm security blanket – comforting, and protective. The safety and expectation of the known is quite powerful and scary. It’s good for the owner as he/she has the guaranteed clientele, but if a cafe doesn’t cut the mustard then it’s out the door. As we legitimately haven’t given Brighton a good go for a brunch experience, we decided to skip the busy street and go for the well-known cafe Olie & Ari.
Olie & Ari has a lot of things going for it. One of my favourite factors is that it isn’t on the main street on Brighton. The cafe is located on a quieter street which draws the unsuspecting passersby in. By checking out the decor you might as well sit down, ask for the menu and order coffees to start off. Olie & Ari has an impressive dinning setting with a careful selection of furniture and decor that are visually stunning and inviting for singles, couples, families and hip seniors. There is the main dining area to cater for big groups which is appropriately near the section for kiddies to sit if they think they are too cool for their parents. Then there is the secondary room for a more intimate experience. This is all surrounded with fabulous lighting fixtures and modern decor touches. It give the feeling that you’re in an amazing furniture shop which you don’t want to leave, but with friendly waiters, coffee and food – my version of bliss.
Coffee is my drug of choice and my next fix was ordered asap. My long black [$3.50] was roasted by Cisco Coffee, a Melbourne-based roaster that has been in the coffee industry before I was even in nappies. Needless to say I was excited to experience a new blend and the first striking element was a strong nutty flavour. This blend is quite unique in that it doesn’t follow other roasteries in providing a fruity taste. However, at some stages I did taste some harsh tones. Apart from the smoothness of the coffee, I had quite enjoyed it and it was a good standard tasting coffee.
Menu wise, Olie & Ari seem to cover all the bases with a nice selection of sweet, savory and egg dishes that cater to most brunch needs. While there was plenty of choices available, I decided to go on a limb and order the special – Green eggs & ham – pesto scrambled eggs and virgin ham on toast [$18.50]. It’s not the most amazing dish going around, but what I liked about it was the true flavour it delivered. The scrambled eggs were cooked to perfection with the right amount of moisture and herb pesto to appreciate the fusion of two simple ingredients. The virgin ham was of a high quality, providing a nice tender taste to the scrambled eggs. The dish was simple in flavour, but cooked to perfection and didn’t disappoint.
With the ample amount of desserts on display it didn’t take much to convince Miss SL to have a dabble at one. Following the specials of the day, we order from the special board – Crostata (Italian baked dessert tart) – pear, fig, ricotta, walnut and almond served with cinnamon cream [$9]. I actually enjoyed the dense, sweet, fruity taste with the spring flavours of fig and nutty taste lingering on the palate. However, it was a large serving size and if eaten alone will certainly cause an upset stomach.
Olie & Ari is a place that doesn’t need a busy street to make noise. It has a lot of things going for it and it should be on your list to give a real try.”
“Brighton is a suburb known for having good food and good shopping. To my knowledge – and I may be wrong here – I’m aware of only 3 places worth going to. The first is The Little Ox, which has been my little ‘let’s go somewhere close and local for a coffee’ hang out. Second is The Pantry, holding a good reputation for quite a while although I have yet to personally experience it. Finally we have Brighton’s latest hotspot Olie & Ari, a beautiful cafe hiding away from the main strip on Were Street.
The minute we stepped into the establishment I was excited. Cupcakes sprinkled with glitter welcomed us at the cash counter, the barista station in full swing. The seating area had vintage red brick walls, washed with white paint and artistic cut-out lampshades that immediately demanded our attention. Along the right hand side was some low-level tables and along the left was the anticipated communal table. We couldn’t decided if the low-level tables were designed as a kids table or not, as when we tried to sit there my knees popped up awkwardly above hip level. We moved to a more covert table for two on the right hand side of the venue, next to an additional dining room which was framed by lovely arches.
Looking through the menu, my eyes set sight on the Croque Monsieur – hot ham and cheese grilled sandwich with Dijon béchamel [$12]. I was very tempted by other items on the menu such as the Organic porridge, fresh banana, honey, walnut & almond crumble [$11], the Armenian breakfast pizza with pastrami, kasseri cheese and egg [$14] or even the Brioche French toast with blueberry compote & crème friache [$14.50], but the thought of a grilled sandwich with cheese won out.
I was quick to observe how family friendly Olie & Ari was. The major factor here, and I stress how important this was to enjoying my brunch experience – the kids were civilised and blended in perfectly into the scene. Babies in wooden chairs, kids mastering the art of knives and forks and no screaming, kicking, running or fussing about! Now, I know that this was beyond control of the cafe staff and perhaps it was pure coincidence, but I couldn’t help but admire the perfect balance between being chic and trendy versus practical and family friendly this cafe was. Okay, but I’m gushing now.
We’d snagged some newspapers and read through the pullouts as our meals arrived. The Croque Monsieur was well-buttered on the outside of the sourdough, giving it a beautifully golden colour. Much to my delight, it oozed with a beautiful cheese that wasn’t as sharp as Tasty but not too demure at the same time.
The cheese was all powering for the medium-cut slices of ham. This could have been compensated if the slice were slightly thicker, or if a bit more ham was used, however I’m not complaining – it was a beautifully made sandwich. I’m not really sure what part the dijon béchamel made to be honest. I’m guessing that it was this sauce that reduced the powerful sharpness of the cheese, creating balance within the overall dish.
I have to admit that I wasn’t big on the Crostata (Italian baked dessert tart) – pear, fig, ricotta, walnut and almond served with cinnamon cream [$9] that we’d had for dessert. It was very foreign to me and had a pastry base, ricotta filling that was laced with pears, walnuts and figs. The figs themselves were small and round, which was different to the types of figs I was typically familiar with. I could only attribute this to them being young, which explained their bitter flavour that created a stark contrast to the slightly sweet flavours of the crostata mingled with the syrup. The cinnamon cream was a lovely touch to the dish, though – it went perfectly with the ricotta filling.
Overall I really loved my experience at Olie & Ari – the venue was clean, open and efficient. It was extremely family friendly and chic and the food was beautifully made. Olie & Ari is a wonderful addition to Brighton and worth driving down to visit.”
Final thought: “The perfect balance between trendy and family friendly”