2 Acland Street
Sun – Sat: 7am – 5pm
Coffee: St Ali Coffee
“Brunching in St Kilda can be difficult. While this vibrant suburb attracts thousands of tourists each year, finding a good brunch requires knowledge and a keen eye. There are plenty of brunch spots. But quality and wholesome meals, however, are hard to come by and a closer look may reveal that many places may not make the cut.
With the likes of Fitzrovia, Miss Jackson and Blue Corn already offering fantastic brunch options in St Kilda, there is no harm in having another café that strives to outmatch the competition. Enter Il Fonaio. Located near Cira, The Prince and Cantina, Il Fonaio has big shoes to fill and the hunger to meet and exceed these expectations.
Arriving on a sunny Saturday morning, Il Fonaio was vibrant and welcoming during its busy brunch period. The décor is a combination of modern, well positioned mood lights, interesting art work and a slick barista station with subtle rustic cues – most noticeable at the counter with their selection of Baking Bread 101 products.
With the summer heat belting down, it was the ideal temperature for a Cold press coffee, infused with jasmine tea; Costa Rica blend [$5.50]. Traditionally, a cold drip can leave a strong caffeinated taste due to the brewing process. Infusing with the jasmine tea allowed to cut through this taste and resulted in a delightful combination – clean, refreshing and well balanced in a way that it retains its coffee status.
Making a brunch decision at Il Fonaio is quite hard. Not only do patrons get to enjoy the play on words used to describe the menu items (each dish and beverage is named after celebrities or modern culture references) but the menu is extensive. There is a number of contenders to choose from, but I finally landed on Eggs Ryan Gosling – devil’s artichoke, pepper hollandaise, ricotta, poached eggs [$18.50].
JoJo had joined us and fancied some delicious but healthy hot cakes, electing pro-biotic pancakes – kefir activated oatmeal pancakes, fig & chai labneh, 3182 rooftop honey [$18]. Whilst being impressed by the presentation, her pancakes weren’t cooked right through which resulted in a soggy centre. What she loved though was the fig, describing it as sweet and full of flavour.
Conversely, the eggs ryan gosling looked and tasted fantastic. The artichokes were well prepared; each piece melted in my mouth and left a beautiful tangy taste of the house made marinade. The poached eggs were well crafted with oozing egg yolk; peppered hollandaise and roasted mini truss tomatoes made for a delicious combination. Whilst being a little on the heavy side, I really enjoyed this dish and being the weekender meal.
Wrapping up with a lovely and super yummy Channing Tatum Smoothie [$9] (chocolate malt and banana – who can say no to that?!) and assessing our brunch offerings, I feel as though Il Fornaio has come a long way from just being a bakery. More importantly, they have cracked the right balance of retaining its quality bakery products but also offering a strong brunch environment – which isn’t an easy task to pull off. There may just be a new favourite in St Kilda”
“It was a warm, sunny morning when we were invited to try Il Fornaio in St Kilda. It is in a lovely location next door to Circa, The Prince, but unfortunately it was a real challenge to find a free parking space. After circling nearby streets for a non-ticket spot (as I was out of change), I finally found a park and meandered back to the cafe; characterised by diners spilling out of the venue and onto the patio, sipping their coffees and smoothies.
Sitting down outside, we were politely and efficiently handed our dining menus. Immediately my eyes oggled the creatively named dishes – did I want Eggs mila kunis with irewarra lamb shoulder, smoked tomatoes, two poached eggs, spring pea & thyme “hollandaise”, sourdough, crispy saltbush [$19.50], or perhaps the ever tempting Eggs ryan gosling – devil’s artichoke, pepper hollandaise, ricotta, poached eggs [$18.50]? Somehow the Gwenth paltrow nutrient salad [$17.50] wasn’t very appetising.
The only thing I did know was that I desperately needed something cool that still gave me my caffeine fix, so I was relieved that a Cold press coffee, infused with jasmine tea; Costa Rica blend [$5.50] was on the cards. It was delightfully light, refreshing and a little bitter from the Jasmine tea. There was also a slight hint of nectarine that came through in the after taste.
For my mains, I finally decided on having the #Yolo house cured salmon, pea, avocado + preserved lemon mousse, zucchini, potato fondant, gremolata, baby radish, two poached eggs [$18.50]. When it arrived I was delighted – it was exactly what I needed! Something fresh, light and healthy. The avocado and lemon mousse was prepared in a way to be beautifully smooth and creamy and the potato was cooked through and served fresh – without being doused in butter. The salmon was refreshing on such a warm afternoon.
When the meals were said and done, there was still a little bit of room left for dessert. Instead, I decided to quench my thirst and have a smoothie – the Miranda Kerr – coconut water, spirulina, maca, cranberry, apple, coconut flesh, LSA, pure lime essential oil; immune boosting detoxing electrolyte rich [$9]. When it came out, I couldn’t help but notice its unusual colour and visual presentation. The flavour of coconut water came through as the strongest flavour in the drink and left a really nice aftertaste. The goji berry was also quite noticeable as it added a balanced sweetness throughout it.
Overall, Il Fornaio exceeded my expectations. The coffee and drinks were better than expected and the food was well-made and tasty. The staff were friendly and the venue was nice. For a place that I’d seen so many times before, it was great to finally try it out and appreciate that it is a quality venue in Melbourne.”
Final thought: “Fun dishes and a great variety of healthy smoothies”