a couple of weeks ago i was invited to sample the breakfast menu of long-term glenferrie road resident, la via. the malvern café has been operating since 1999, but recently underwent somewhat of a facelift thanks to new management/ownership. first up was a much-needed flat white made with st ali sensory lab – an excellent and trendy choice, with a strong flavour but good balance.
we also went with a couple of fresh juices including a ‘power pack c’ (orange, blueberry, raspberry + strawberry) and a ‘green fuel’ (orange, cucumber, celery, apple + kale). both tasty + refreshing. moving on to the food, we were generously given three of the brunch menu’s options to try:
pasture fed flinders island wallaby with scrambled eggs, marinated organic persian fetta, wild roquette + garden herbs
i love scrambled eggs (it’s my new go-to for eggs) + combining it with fetta and greens is a pretty winning combination. more innovative was the inclusion of wallaby in this dish, and you would expect it to fit right in with melbourne’s progressive breakfast menus which appear to include lobster donuts these days. however, on this occasion i felt the saltiness of the game over-powered the creaminess of the scramble + didn’t marry well with the sharpness of the fetta. for my own personal taste, i would’ve preferred a more traditional slow-roasted cherry tomatoes – but i applaud the courage it takes to put something so daring on the menu… and for those that are partial to an extra dose of sodium, you might find you love this.
homemade buttermilk pancakes with nutella strawberries, whiskey-infused maple, honey brushed istra bacon, fresh mascarpone, vanilla chantilly, strawberry gel and overnight dried raspberry powder
just as they should be, the fluffy pancakes were the highlight of this dish! now, i’ll admit that i have this thing with mixing savoury + sweet and have never been a fan of things like apricot chicken, or bacon with maple syrup for example. my husband, however, has joined what is probably the rest of the entire world on the sweet-savoury cheer squad… which is good when a pancake dish comes with bacon because he’ll happily have a try! the berries + cream were a good addition to this dish, and overall it all worked well together.
homemade corn and pea fritters with eggs sunny side up, basil infused tomato, soft grilled haloumi, wilted baby spinach, tangy tomato relish + chunky salsa
this was my favourite dish of the morning. a generous serving of haloumi (a close second to saganaki as my favourite cheese) along with two runny fried eggs and fritters reminiscent of a popular indian takeaway dish (‘kurkuri’ i think). the flavours were strong, but still worked together, especially with the addition of the tangy tomato relish.
looks wise, the meals were all plated with some very melbournesque-flare, succeeding to make them insta-worthy. and certainly, the interior is freshly redone with large tables, a lounge areas for more casual coffee catch-ups, and a modernised interior thanks to long-time st ali collaborator richie brownfield who has used reclaimed timber furniture and a fresh and neutral colour-palette.
unfortunately there was something about the atmosphere that just fell a bit short for me. on reflection, i’m putting it down to the distracting wall-mounted tv. and whilst i appreciate that this same tv provides financial news on a weekday morning for the corporate’s coming through for a morning coffee, when you combine rnb video clips with a saturday morning, i felt it didn’t quite create right the atmosphere for a buzzing melbourne brunch venue.
in saying that, i’ve read a fair few positive reviews about the revamped modern australian/mediterranean-influenced menu (particuarly lunch and dinner)… and the service was on-point with a solid and well-executed menu. the café is up against stiff competition on glenferrie road, but i feel that la via still has much to offer to those seeking a larger more open space or a prolonged read of the newspaper over coffee from the comfy lounge.
verdict: much to offer the malvern-end of glenferrie road
(note: inlovewithbrunch dined as a guest of caffe la via, however all remarks and reviews are honest and genuine)