Whenever I am in Melbourne I spend a lot of time eating brunch. Melbourne does a good brunch. On this trip I ate at a few old favourites but also managed to try the newly opened Friends of Mine in Richmond for a girly brunch with Jade, Jo and Lizzie (complete with the stars of the show babies Isla and Jasper). This part of Richmond has been crying out for a cafe like Friends of Mine, and despite only opening last month, the cafe is already far more popular than the desolate Indian restaurant it replaced.
Pavement seating and cheery yellow awnings at Friends of Mine
The feel of Friends of Mine is set by cheery hanging baskets outside and the sunny yellow awnings, a colour theme that continues inside with pops of yellow from the iron stools clustered around the large communal table by the front window. Walls are bare brick, with polished concrete floors and certain eyecatching features like the huge chandeliers swinging from the ceiling and the artfully arranged collection of vintage shoe horns. The entrance is lined with shelves with gourmet deli goodies handy for locals who have an urgent need for tapenade or for compulsive shoppers. There is also a counter with lots of freshly baked treats, perfect for people who just want to stop in for a coffee. Coffee is key of course, and in a city of loud and proud coffee snobs, the coffee at Friends of Mine is a great blend made with skill.
Large communal tables
The cafe is run by Jason Jones, the man behind two other famed Melbourne cafes, Porgie & Mr Jones and Snow Pony. He has lifted some of the most popular dishes straight from their menu, including the must order of smashed avocado with thyme buttered mushrooms ($16.90). The avocado and mushroom is served on thick, crusty toast and topped with salty fetta to add sharpness along with a squeeze of lemon. Poached egg can be added at an additional $2 but really it would be an unecessary extra to what is truly a vegetarian breakfast nirvana.
Smashed avocado and buttered mushrooms
There are new dishes as well including the toasted piadini with lamb meatballs ($10.90), a real rib-sticker of a lunch dish the meatballs are gutsy and flavoursome, all sticky with melted cheese and can be teamed with salad or chips according to your preference. For a lighter lunch there is always the lentil salad with baby roasted beetroot ($17.90). The salad is served warm and is lifted by a scattering of goats curd and spiced walnuts.
Toasted piadini and meat balls
Service was not Friends of Mine’s strongest point, constant smiles were good but having our order taken or getting the bill without lots of hand waving and evasive eye contact would have been better. Still, this little beauty does stand out from the crowd of great brunch spots in Melbourne.
Counter of baked goodies – hello chocolate crackles and yo yo biscuits!
Details: Friends of Mine, 506 Swan street, Richmond 3121 (Ph +61 3 9428 7516)
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If you liked reading this you might be interested in another brunch recommendation for Richmond, Three Bags Full or in London try Lantana.