As most Melburnians will know all too well there is a rather stark divide between those who live north and those who live south of the river. The split has become particularly apparent of late with The Writer having returned from overseas and the search for our first place together in progress. He grew up south of the river but having lived most of his adult life on the other side he is now quite firmly attached. Apart from a year of city living since moving from Sydney I have always lived south of the river and having become oddly attached. I know where to go for a heavenly steaming bowl of pho, a dress for a last minute event and the best quality fruit, vegetables and seafood at bargain prices. Then there’s the other issue, the big issue, lazy weekend breakfasts.
The Writer and I are both quite fond of Saturday mornings with the paper spread out over a café table accompanied by coffee and perfectly poached eggs. In the inner-northern suburbs we have an attachment to Ray, it having featured heavily in our early dating days. With sweet temptations like the toasted pide with labna and rosejam it’s no wonder we’ve kept coming back. The Writer is partial to the savoury varieties of pide, in particular the pesto, tomato, mozzarella and prosciutto. I’m drawn to the beautifully balanced sweet and salty combination of roasted caramelised pumpkin and baby spinach with feta and olive tapenade.
On the south side of the river we find ourselves making regular visits to Amici Bakery Café. Although it’s the reasonably priced and perfectly executed café breakfast options that bring us back, you can’t help but melt when you get your first sight of the bakery counter windows filled with rhubarb tartlets, berry charlottes and quivering vanilla slices. I would have photographed the assortment of patisserie delights but that would have involved elbowing out at least a dozen people queuing for a loaf of sourdough and perhaps a strawberry tart for good measure. Instead I have for you my first venture into the sweet breakfast items at this venue; cinnamon french toast topped with caramelised bananas and maple syrup. Any one of those components would be enough to make me a little weak at the knees but together they make the perfect weekend indulgence. The thick slices of casinlinga soak up the syrup beautifully.
The Writer opts for the Amici Big Breakfast, a towering plate of poached eggs, pesto potatoes, bacon, chipolatas, mushrooms, tomatoes and relish. It’s the little things that Amici does so well. The addition of pesto to the cottage potatoes is simple but makes them delightfully moreish. The eggs are perfectly poached and the chipolatas beautifully spiced. This is not your standard fry-up but like the ideal fry-up it’s the sort of comforting breakfast fare that is always completely satisfying. The portions are incredibly generous and The Writer is defeated. Luckily I don’t hesitate to venture with my fork across the table.
The Amici has a strong local following but is worth trekking across town for and at just over $10 for breakfast and coffee, its prices are comparable to its northern counterparts. With a great use of space you almost never need to wait for a table although that doesn’t mean that some locals aren’t queuing at the door to get in and who could blame him?
Amici Bakery Cafe
242 Chapel St, Prahran
Tel 03 9529 7770
332 Victoria St
Brunswick 3056 VIC
Phone: (03) 9380 8593