El Mirage & L’Atelier by Monsieur Truffe
349 Lygon St & 351 Lygon Street
What a convoluted title I’ve chosen for this long-winded post, but essentially, it describes what happened. Let me explain…
We had heard excellent things about the chocolate at Monsieur Truffe, and had previously tried to lob up at L’Atelier mid-Sunday only to be turned away as it was too busy. However, the next time the group catch-up happened, I dragged the group out to Brunswick East
at the crack of dawn 10am on a Sunday so as not to miss out on the famed hot chocolates.
We entered through the mysterious red door, which is the only sign that a vast and bright space lies behind with a bustling cafe and chocolate manufacturing equipment. The staff were very efficient and friendly at getting our group (five + un bébé) seated comfortably at the communal table – avec high chair. Hot chocolates and coffees were ordered, and we got down to the important task of deciding on our breakfasts.
The ‘house blend’ hot chocolate – there were four types to choose from – was amazing. Rich, thick and with bitter cocoa sprinkled on the top, I could see why this had been recommended to me.
Here’s where it got tricky. The ladies we were sitting next to were eating the croque monsieur (large, cheesy and with a side salad) and I was toying between that and some of the interesting-sounding-but-more-brunchy items on the menu when I became aware of a bit of consternation among the group. I’ll explain. Our group had a combination of omnivores that’ll eat anything (yours truly among them); vegetarians (but eggs are okay); and a gluten free person with coeliac disease (she who I cook berry friands for). The waitress explained that unfortunately the menu couldn’t be varied.
This WAS unfortunate, as the only non-sweet vego item was eggs and toast soldiers, undoubtedly very nice but boring; and the only gluten free item was beans and anchovies, again undoubtedly very nice but if you don’t feel like anchovies… Bread couldn’t be substituted; the chef couldn’t cook a croque monsieur sans ham (leading me to believe they must be pre-made). Somewhat reluctantly, we paid for our drinks and got up to go, because if two of the group don’t really like their fancy breakfast, then that’s not cool with the five of us.
This actually turned out to be quite a good thing. A man with a delightful French accent (who I think was the owner, Thibault Fregoni… just googled him and I’m 98% sure that’s who it was!) spoke to us about why we were leaving in order to get feedback, because they were getting a new chef on board soon (ex Movida) and wanting to make sure the menu was good for everyone. He was positive about having more veg options on there and we left feeling good about the hot chocs, smiles all round.
We didn’t go far either to finish our breakfast.
The cafe next door is called El Mirage (I’m telling you this as a public service announcement, as we didn’t find out until the bill came – what is with this hatred of signage on Nicholson Street?!) and has a menu that caters to all tastes. The friendly staff got us seated immediately (it too has a high chair for those interested).
The menu is almost too extensive: I struggled choosing my dishes (choice paralysis!) but GF Gal and N enjoyed the myriad of gluten free and vegetarian options. In the end we had an order of two Slim Jims (they came with fig chutney and ricotta); one Eggs Florentine w. smoked salmon (mine, smoked salmon ticks all my boxes); and two poached egg dishes that came with potato rosti – four little ones in a row!
stole asked for part of a rosti to try and it was crunchy and scrumptious. The hollandaise sauce on my eggs was amazing, although totally negating the effort I had put in riding my bike from south side to north side – I had to ride my bike into hipsterville* you understand. I really enjoyed my meal and noises of appreciation from the others suggested their meals were equally delicious.
*And I used to live northside** so I’m allowed to say that.
**Hence why I have a bike, although mine has gears and suspension cos I’m a rational human being.
In conclusion, I’d like to go back to L’Atelier when the menu changes to try it out; and in the meantime I’ve discovered another favourite next door. What a fortuitous morning.
Other bloggers I like have reviewed these two: Melbourne Gastronome liked El Mirage; Mel: Hot Or Not deemed the hot chocolate HOT at L’Atelier (and the food too); and Almost Always Ravenous also thought the hot chocolate at L’Atelier “wickedly good”.