On our amble in to town on Sunday, Lydia and I decided the only possible way to properly start our lazy Sunday was with brunch. It may have been my brain child, but she didn’t take much persuading! We wandered through the CBD, en route to the Queen Victoria Market, until we found a place that looked nice/were so hungry we couldn’t wait a second longer to brunch, and ended up in Soul Cafe.
As you walk in, the length of the place begins to strike you. Large handwritten chalk boards adorn the walls behind the cafe bar with daily specials, breakfast treats and hot drinks. I was surprised it wasn’t too busy, being in the city: most tables were full, but it wasn’t packed out, by any means – however you are spoiled for coffee/brunch holes in Melbourne, so it didn’t put me off. Menus, if you need them, are on the tables and on the bar, but I was on a mission: eggs benedict and a mocha.
As I was ordering I glanced at the menu and noticed they offered eggs Benedict, either with thick cut bacon, or salmon and avocado. Not being able to eat the salmon, I wanted to swap the salmon for bacon and have it with the avocado.
And then I stumbled across a problem I’ve had a few times when ordering in Melbourne: if it’s not exactly as it appears on the menu, it’s going to cost extra. I explained why I wanted the salmon swapping but the lady taking my order said it would still be an extra $4 for the avo, they couldn’t just swap it.
I don’t know if it’s just that we were incredibly accommodating at North’s, but at Pizza Hut and Nandos we’d swap items for people without the extra charge, even at Frankie and Benny’s, when I always, without fail, go in and order something that’s not on the menu anymore, they make it for me and charge the equivalent cheapest pasta dish. But this isn’t the first time it’s happened.
Needless to say I opted to leave the avocado this time.
The mocha was ok. It was hot, which meant it was still warm as I was finishing my eggs, but the coffee wasn’t too strong. I like to taste the coffee in my mocha and the roast they were using wasn’t dark enough for my liking. They also made the mocha with syrup, as apposed to powder, meaning the biggest hit of sweet chocolate was at the end of my drink, instead of even throughout. The milk however was steamed really well and there was a nice creamy layer of foam on top. Everything arrived really quickly – something I’m fast becoming fond of as a trait in Melbourne, quick service.
My only niggle was they got the food order wrong – we’d both ordered eggs Benedict, but we got eggs Benedict and pancakes (not a bad situation to be in, just not what we’d ordered). Thankfully they got our second eggs to us very quickly, so there wasn’t that awkward situation where one of you is just watching the other one eat.
Generally it was another nice brunch (I’m always going to say brunch was nice): the muffins were perfect. Toasted just enough that there was a bit of crunch, but still soft enough to soak up all the yolk and sauce. The eggs were poached well, the yolks were still runny, but the whites were cooked all the way through, so there was nothing that resembled snot on my plate. Everything was still warm when it arrived, but – and I can’t believe I’m going to say this – the bacon was too thick. It was a mission to cut through it at times and it threw off the egg to meat ratio. The hollandaise sauce was a lovely consistency, but there was a tad much mustard, it was quite tangy and at times it really caught the back of your throat (although it did make me laugh when I realised it was a mustard mistake as I remembered that time Lorna made coleslaw…). The flavours were well balanced, but I do love black pepper on my meals, so I added some (obviously); I was disappointed they didn’t have peppercorns, only powdered pepper, but it still added the nice little extra flavour I wanted.
The cafe itself was a bit confusing, as we walked through to find a table we could hear the familiar pinging and ringing of slots machines and it turned out there was a casino at the back of the cafe. We’ve since discovered it’s part of a hotel (which explains the casino) but it amused us at the time. We were also joined by a small bird as we brunched, who’d flown in through the large open front of the cafe.
The Bottom Line
Lydia enjoyed her first eggs Benedict, but I know that I can find better for her to try, and fall in love with it as a brunch time staple. Generally it was a nice brunch, but I was disappointed I couldn’t swap my meat and for how quiet the cafe was when we arrived – they shouldn’t have got our order wrong. The service was fast, but could have been a little friendlier.