15 Acacia Pl,
Mon: 7am – 4pm
Tue – Wed: Closed
Thur – Sun: 7am – 4pm
Coffee: Melba Coffee and Tea
“Spanning over 242 kilometres, the Yarra River is more than just a distinction between north and south or its inaccurate description as the ‘dirty river’. While it might be a constant struggle to cross over in peak hour, it is a natural beauty to Melbourne’s – not to mention Victoria’s – repertoire. Starting its journey at the Yarra Ranges Shire, it winds its way down from the mountain ranges, dominating Melbourne’s landscape and industry throughout history.
With all of its history and multiple industries the Yarra has facilitated, only a few bars and restaurants dare to celebrate its true natural beauty. Points can be rewarded to the CBD, with the likes of Southbank, South Wharf and bars including Arbory and Pony Fish taking full advantage of the picturesque vantage points. Unfortunately this can’t be said about the inner suburbs. However, there is a café in Abbotsford which is situated very close to the Yarra River and its untouched bushland – Frankie Says.
Frankie Says offers something different to the Richmond/Abbotsford brunch scene. The team behind Hoy Pinoy, The Meatball Company and Cafe Italia have created an eatery that offers a soothing approach to the brunch experience. Located on the riverside of the latest apartment block, Sanctuary; the 90 seater venue takes full advantage of the natural light with its tall, grand ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. The floor plan is split into different areas and includes a beautiful alfresco dining area, a semi-private mezzanine and a cozy breakfast bar carved off from the main dining hall. The space retains its natural feel with raw timber posts exposed around the outdoor dining area and soft grey tones dominating the modern interior.
Diverging from the known independent coffee labels – think Seven Seeds, AllPress, Small Batch, Market Lane – is a riskier decision, but is pulled off by creating their own point of difference. Sourcing their beans from Melba Coffee & Tea, a brand which has over 15 years of experience in roasting and serving coffee. I was really surprised that other cafes haven’t given this brand a go as the quality of my short black [$3.50] was exceptional. Poured into cute handmade cups, the rich citrus flavours were immediately picked up and was smooth on the palate.
JoJo had accompanied me and opted for a non caffeinated beverage, a beetroot and ginger and juice. She found it refreshing and revitalising to start her morning.
The brunch items are well catered for with a strong selection of top dishes to choose from. There is a good selection of gluten free options for those with tummy intolerance, but also keeping the gluten lovers happy with pizza and burger options. The menu does inspire an Italian grazing feel with shared plates of Assortito (comprises of various aged dried meats) and Fritto misto (comprises of various prepared fish pieces). The menu also incorporates Squid Ink spaghetti with lobster [$22] and the homely feeling Meatballs with beetroot relish [$16].
Feeling that a healthy option might be necessary for this Saturday midday brunch, I elected for the Bitter greens, avocado, cucumber with poached eggs, pumpkin pistachio dukkah & mango lime vinaigrette [$16] w pulled beef [$4]. The dish was refreshing and light, as the bitterness of the rocket was well balanced with the added pulled beef. The avocado and poached eggs were of a great standard, and whilst not having the fancy bells and whistles, it hits all the spots in terms of taste, flavour balance and quantity.
JoJo went for the gluten free option of Scrambled eggs with goat’s curd, truffled mushrooms & crispy pancetta GF [$18]. Simplistic in style, she was impressed with the quality of each element and the sufficient bread to food ratio.
Frankie Says is the ideal brunch spot for when relaxation is the aim of the game. There is no rushing about to find the maitre de or squeezing onto the communal table. Frankie Says combines the right elements to pull out the latest magazine to enjoy a great coffee and brunch/lunch dish.
Final thought: “Hidden brunch sanctuary amongst the grittiness of Abbotsford.”