this isn’t the first time i’ve frequented operator25, a trendy cafe in the top-end of the CBD, but seen as we were heading to the vic markets and this funky cafe is operating on their spring 2014 menu (different to the last menu i tried) – we headed in pre-market shopping last sunday.
i’m still in love with the decor – the brass pendant, round wooden seating + wall murals – its clean + sophisticated with a touch of spunk! the service was again friendly and efficient and these guy sure know how to make a good coffee! i used to be a self-proclaimed “wuss” in the coffee departments, horribly addicted to the habit of drinking multiple cups per day but at half-strength with 2 sugars (stick with me, i promise i’ve changed!). since moving to melbourne i’ve gradually improved my tolerance (and no doubt addiction) for the liquid gold stuff but also (thankfully!) weaned myself off of what was probably more of a sugar addiction that anything else. so now, i’m proudly a full-strength soy latte/flat white drinker (san sweetners) – and slowly learning to disseminate the different inferences in each of the coffee blends. there is no way i’ll be claiming to be an expert (“with fruity flavours + coconut undertones”) – i’ll need a training course one day for that … but i hope that now i can somewhat distinguish a good coffee from a bad one!
anyway… where was i? oh yeah…. so, operator25 use cartel coffee roasters, a locally-roasted and recognised brand in many melbourne cafes (T-Roy Browns – a newbie in the CBD, Workshop Bros., LB2 just to name a few). the coffee is excellent + the baristas take real pride in the making of each cup – seriously it’s not often you get soy milk poured this well. i also LOVE the big hug-size cups – perfect for an early or tired morning.
the spring menu has definitely changed somewhat since my last visit, but i like that they have stayed true to their previous styles whilst substituting for more in-season produce and lighter/warmer-weather dishes. for those that know or remember the vanilla custard sago from the autumn/winter menu (to die for!), this little beauty is the spring menu equivalent:
cold mango rice pudding, macerated berries, pistachio + cherry foam
i am loving anything sago or rice-based at the moment + this one is definitely a new fave. mango-infused rice with fresh mango, the base of this dish was solid to begin with – refreshing, light, (healthy?!). the inclusion of the pistachios + water cress added some texture and the macerated berries on the bottom was delicious. and then the creaminess of the cherry foam helped smooth/pull it all together. needless to say there was definitely nothing left in the bottom of this cup at the end of brunch + for me, a perfect light option for those not wanting a full/huge meal.
house honey baked oats with acai yoghurt + fresh fruits
again, we tried the autumn/winter equivalent last time (with a poached apple) and this spring version is equally as tasty. the summer fruits – i love melon! – and blueberries were fresh and juicy and the addition of acai yoghurt (berry flavour) as opposed to plain yoghurt really added to this dish. the oats themselves are consistent with the previous version – full of nuts, seeds + sultanas which for me are a winning oats combination. loved this dish!
poached eggs + bacon
perfectly cooked poached eggs with runny yolk + a very generous serving of grilled bacon. who doesn’t love a good b+e?!
smashed avocado on grilled corn bread with two poached eggs + spiced tomato salsa
having just come back from america’s south i was really excited by this dish. the spiced tomato salsa gave this dish a mexican influence + the cornbread (which was pretty authentic) reminded me of alabama. if you’ve never tried cornbread, the best way i can think to describe it is almost like a very dense corn + egg quiche with a loaf/heavy bread consistency. it is seriously yum! in the south they soak it in honey + serve it sweet which is ah-maz-ing (and definitely not good for the waist-line)! again, eggs were poached perfectly + the avo smash was light and fresh. this was a very tasty + cohesive dish.
house benedict: potato rosti, grandmother ham, poached eggs, mustard + tarragon hollandaise
a foodie friend of mine tried this dish + since i was too full from eating, half-eating or taste-testing all the others, i’ll take it on good advice that this was a fantastic dish. he loved the potato rosti (crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside) + raved about the hollandaise. again the eggs were perfectly poached + who doesn’t love a good eggs-bene with ham off the bone… reminds of christmas!
in summary, i am still a huge fan of this place + whilst i don’t get up that way of the cbd all that often, it IS perfectly located for anyone visiting the queen vic markets. so next time you’re around the area, definitely pay operator25 a visit – great food, delicious coffee + a sophisticated vibe!
verdict: definitely still a huge fan!