Two Eggs and More
So in the last couple of weekends I’ve had two very different breakfast experiences: one, a top of the pops, fashionable who’s who of Melbourne eateries in the inner north, where the wait-staff seemed to have walked straight out of the sartorialist, the coffees’ design matched the décor, and the high ceilings within the recently renovated warehouse could have housed art worthy of the price I paid for the meal; the second an outer suburb coffee shop, complete with coke advertising, a TV showing the latest hits of the 90’s (which coincidentally was the last time they updated the menu), clientèle who can remember the “talkies”, and genuine pre-mining boom prices.
Surprisingly, I probably won’t rush back to either. One because it was a dire disappointment, and the second because the outer suburbs are just too far to drive to on a lazy weekend morning.
At first appearances, everything from the atmos to the menu looked tiptop at Three Bags Full. Having dealt with the internal demons which momentarily suggested my worthiness of breaking bread with such high-society was in question, we sat at the communal table, where the shared sense of fortune at having scored one of the last empty seats was not only palpable but almost suffocating. Sure I have TheAge online readily available at home, but my world knowledge is all the better for having read the communal copy from which countless others, much like myself, fed on throughout the morning. I could almost absorb their intellect by osmosis.
Unfortunately, much like the Sistine chapel, by the time the meal reached my taste buds, the weight of expectation built by walking through all the previous corridors, for hours on end, proved too much for the toasted muffins to carry. Having moved through the process alike the 5 stages of grief, by the time I got past the anger, I finally walked into the tiny room, looked up at the ceiling and thought: “are those the eggs I’d heard so much about?”. Also, much like the Sistine, everyone seems to be taking photos of the main meal, though at the cafe scene this is not discouraged, but rather seen as free advertising. It would have taken Michelangelo himself to paint on my coffee for me to be somewhat impressed.
In the outskirts of Melbourne, however, my super crispy bacon and eggs, with butter-drowned toast, was nothing short of predictable, the hash-brown a side of deep fried goodness, and the service so forgettable I’m not convinced it wasn’t a mirage.
But after all that, I walked out satisfied I’d gotten not only what I was after, but what I expected. There’s little hope of such a shop, with its pungent aroma of nostalgia for my Brisbane bistro breakfast days, would inspire or even excite me. It fulfilled its role, which was to be a backdrop to the morning’s conversation, and absorb the leftover alcohol that a good night left behind.
Unfortunately for most noteworthy cafes, the build up is bigger than the messiah’s (first, second or third) coming, (depending on what book you follow). I can’t for a second suggest that had I received my Three Bags Full meal at the suburban version, I would not have contemplated becoming a believer myself. But as I cannot completely dissect my experiences, I’ll either have to learn to re-calibrate expectations, or move out to Frankston.
Sometimes, however, even if somewhat seldom, one walks into the St Peter’s Basilica, and as the crowds dance through the marble floors around you, the twice cooked fat of istra bacon makes its way down your throat, and you think “holly ….”. That’s worth a second mortgage.