Lydia and I were looking for places to brunch New Year’s Day. Tusk was our initial pick, but when we arrived and it was shut, we had to rethink things. This Saturday was the first morning we’d both had off, so naturally we were going to spend it brunching, and there was no question we were going to head to Tusk.
It was a typical weekend for Melbourne weather. It had been warm the day before, but was drizzling most of the morning, the temperature dropping to a cool 19. Still, not deterred, we layered up and headed out down Chapel Street while there was a break in the drizzle.
We arrived at Tusk and were greeted by a really friendly lady who offered us seating inside, or out.
Naturally we chose out, and we were delighted to find blankets on the seats to keep us warm while we brunched.
There seemed to be plenty of regulars, either that or the staff are naturals at interacting with their customers – either way I instantly felt at home.
The inside space at Tusk is limited, so the majority of the seating is outside. You’re packed in quite tightly, but while you are, at times a flick of the hair away from taking someone’s eye out, it didn’t feel like we were cramped or penned in.
The menu’s were well thumbed, screwed into a wooden board, making it impossible not to fiddle with them, while plentiful and colourful ‘Specials’ boards perched opposite us. Despite knowing exactly what I’d come for, I was tempted by the lunch choices on the specials, with the silent decision being made between us to come back for lunch.
The mocha was lovely. What struck me most was that it didn’t taste milky.
I have a ‘thing’ about milk. Don’t ask me to explain it, because I can’t, generally I’m ok, but I do have minor freak-outs if milk is spilt near me, if I have to smell it, touch it, or watch someone drinking it. A strange quirk for someone who’s go to is a mocha.
For the most part, the chocolate and the coffee in the mocha hide that it’s made with milk. I can still my irrational milk ‘thing’ for long enough to enjoy it – but I do like my mocha to be strong. Sometimes I can taste I’m drinking milk, more often than not I can’t. Today was one of those days where everything seemed to combine to make a great mocha, the chocolate milk just tasting of chocolate and the right amount of coffee.
My eggs Benedict arrived with smattering of rocket, much to my delight – while I love eggs Benedict I don’t feel like I’ve had a decent meal if there isn’t something ‘green’ on my plate. And rocket is fabulous! Goes with everything: breakfast, lunch or dinner and all the meals in between. The hollandaise was buttery, for me I would have liked a little more mustard, but it complimented the smoked ham. The eggs appeared to be hand poached, which, as I’ve said before, makes me happy for reasons I can’t quite fathom. My yolks were runny, but so were my whites. I’m with Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall in not liking my eggs to look like snot, besides which, the whites are nowhere near as good at the yolk and there’s something very off-putting about watery snot dribbling all over your plate. I’ve been really missing smoked bacon – something I struggle to find as widely available, and the smoked bacon I have found isn’t quite right – but this ham was so close, it made my tongue incredibly happy. The muffins were toasted fine, but they tasted cheap, like a Maccy’s muffin (as it happened, when we left we got a peek into the kitchen where there was a large tub of pre-cut muffins and large tub of pre-made hollandaise).
We had a really fantastic morning. The atmosphere was so comfortable, it was so easy to while away a few hours. I got myself another coffee after we’d finished, to taste the coffee. It was a nice strong roast, not too bitter. It’s certainly a popular spot – as we were going to pay I saw a chap I thought I recognised and then realised it was the guy who’d served us at La Camera. I always think it’s a good sign if someone who works in hospitality wants to eat out at your place.
I had a really lovely morning, just talking and enjoying Lydia’s company and the atmosphere. Brunch was good, but I’m getting more tough this year and the combination of runny whites, average hollandaise and manky muffins means they’re not scoring as high as they could. The coffee was really nice though, and we’re going to have to pop back for lunch!