Agnes in her Melbourne food blog Off The Spork has repeatedly been positively enthusiastic about the breakfast virtues (and lunch, and dinner) of Cafe Plum, which was how we first found out about this otherwise very introverted diner located in isolation on Flemington Road opposite the Royal Children's Hospital. We were not the first from the local food blogging community to have been influenced by Agnes's recommendations either, others had been similarly tempted to visit. So when on our way to Queen Victoria Market for our weekly fresh groceries last Saturday, Cafe Plum came up as a most covenient detour for a pre-shopping brunch.
Once ensconced within Cafe Plum's rather small and cosy space, we were greeted by a relatively standard regular breakfast menu but a fairly extensive Lunch Specials board, which was great! Except that we were in one of those moods where we craved nothing in particular and found it unusually difficult to decide on what to have! The very hospitable young waiter who returned every few minutes or so to check if we were ready to order only added to the pressure! On his fifth return with our coffees he even joked that perhaps the caffeine was what we needed to jolt us out of our indecision, which I guess was what happened because shortly after we settled on the Mushroom Bruschetta ($9.50) from the regular menu and the Housebaked Duck and Chorizo Pie from the Specials board. Alas he returned almost immediately to inform that there were no more pies! Isn't that just the worst when you finally set your mind on something and they run out! And even worst than that, we got to witness the last pie being brought to the neighbouring table looking deliciously large and flaky and smelling bloody good!
Lunch Special of duck tortellini with cream sauce
Aside from the fact that it was rather surprising that the kitchen would have run out of a lunch special just past noon (early for lunch I would have thought) it wasn't too big a deal. Earlier umming and ahring meant that we had a quick second choice of the Roasted Duck Tortellini ($15.50) with a cream sauce. The mushies on toast was a simple version with button mushrooms sauteed with fresh herbs laid over toast with a herbed and creamed feta spread, then lightly drizzled with good balsamic vinegar. Tasty enough but not overly exciting. A mix of mushroom varieties would amp it up. The plump duck tortellinis were very good however, with the accompanying cream (and wine?) sauce flavoursome and not too rich. Quite moreish in fact. Certainly a knowledgeable hand in the kitchen and not a bad fall-back choice at all!
We'll like to return to try further board Specials (by arriving earlier!), and the Roast Dinner Specials on the last Sunday of every month do sound intriguing.
Food: 3.5 Spots - Tasty uncomplicated fare done with some care.
Service: 3.5 Spots - Attentive, though in small space and quiet at the time.
Value: 3.5 - Standard cafe.
R-Factor: 3.5 - Located conveneniently around our usual routes.
Spot Score: 14/20
193 Flemington Road, North Melbourne, VIC.