Top Paddock is the latest cafe from the minds behind South Yarra’s 2 Birds 1 Stone, and previously Richmond’s Three Bags Full. It only opened this past Monday, the Australia Day public holiday, so I’ve decided to take a different approach, and make this my first ‘New in town’ feature. Instead of reviewing/rating/judging, I’m instead going to make some quick observations of the things I loved. So in a way it’s a teaser for a future post where I will write in more depth after another visit or two.
It has been a couple of years in the making, transforming what used to be a carpark into a beautifully designed space, which seats close to 150 people but without losing any of the character and personality that such a large space can lack. There’s two coffee bars, with the second being a focus for takeaway drinks and food, as well as a multitude of areas to sit inside and outside.
The menu, from head chef Jesse McTavish, is served all day and features some of the standard breakfast dishes that you expect to see, but I’m happy that they are pushing themselves into delivering dishes that are little bit more unexpected (white anchovies, jamón serrano with eggs, pedron peppers and manchego; gin and lime cured ocean trout with beetroot relish, potato galette, poached eggs, leaves and goats curd). The dishes speak of great produce (Barham avocados, MoVida bread are a couple of named suppliers) and let the ingredients speak for themselves: the avocado served simply in its skin with lime, sea salt and sourdough.
What I loved:
- Pulled pork on rye (bread) with prunes, leaves and goats curd.
Generous; perfectly juicy pork; beautiful combination with the pork, prune and goats curd.
For my personal taste, this could be even better (which is saying something) by kicking up the sauce/spices/herbs a notch
- Three mushroom omelette (enoki, shitake, oyster), bean sprouts with toast.
Vietnamese-style omelette, was really brought alive by the Vietnamese mint, coriander, chili and black sesame garnish.
- Strong, well-made coffee; beautiful space; pace of the food coming out of the kitchen; accommodating staff even on a hectic first day (when we asked to move inside out of the glare)
Anything that I think could make the experience even better?
(Remember, this was on their opening day, on a public holiday and packed to the seams, so some minor teething problems can be expected)
- Bit of inconsistency with plating up: one omelette had a wonderful pile of herbs, chili and sesame; another was lacking a little
- Pace of drinks was a bit slow compared to how fast the kitchen was working
Top Paddock is already looking like it has struck gold, and you can tell it is going to become one of those ‘go to’ cafe hotspots. I’m looking forward to going back and trying more of the menu (pork belly and fried egg roll with relish anyone?), and enjoying the team settling in.