Eating in Elwood is a bit like shopping at a Thomas Dux supermarket. You buy a packet of biscuits for $18 because the packet looks so Fair Trade, then sit on the couch on your own and eat each one at a quarter of your usual speed so as to really appreciate why they cost $135 a kilo and how continental is it!
That said, I am one of those people. Once a month or so I do a full grocery shop entirely at Leo’s: Maggie Beer condiments, imported Italian pasta, juice squeezed from the bodies of virgins. The other mothers at school see the lunch I pack for my kids and think “Gosh, that Anna must be the heiress to a gigantic good taste fortune,” and try to be more like me.
Eating breakfast at Wild is a bit like that. It’s in a great spot, with the bay and the coin laundry and the RSL all within a cooee. I imagine on a proper summer morning those glass doors are opened out to welcome all the neighbourhood for a raspberry and quinoa muffin and oh the laughter rings out! Unfortunately, I chose that Wednesday morning when Melbourne was being battered by a juicy, horizontal rain, so the doors were closed and I was a (cold) prisoner inside.
It was my first day of Pancake Judgement, and I couldn’t have been more excited. With good reason, as it turned out. For a start, my glass came with frozen grapes instead of ice cubes. “God damn!” I said. “I’m in a Donna Hay magazine! This is incredible!”
Ordering pancakes is a little different to ordering eggs. In a sense, the overall construct of the meal is chosen for you, and they differ quite a lot from place to place.
At Wild, the pancake option was Ricotta hotcakes with apple matchsticks, marscapone and strawberry curd. If you don’t speak food, this translates in English to “Pancake with the joy of the almighty on top”.
The first thing I noticed about the dish – even before the opportunity to play Pick Up Sticks – was the smell. When I closed my eyes, I could have sworn I was in an orchard, being hand fed strawberries by gorgeous men lathered in marscapone. Fortunately the actual visual was almost as good. Just look at it.
The hotcake itself was dense, but still had a good sponge to it and it was punctuated with chunks of cheese. The apple – Granny Smith, my favourite – was sour and crunchy and a perfect contrast to the sweet strawberry curd. I ate it like an excited kid, slurping the curd and eating apple matchsticks with my hands and reading The Magic Faraway Tree books.
Pancakes are so much cheaper than eggs! My wallet is celebrating. This harmony of fruit and cheese was only $12.50 if you can believe it. The rest of the menu looked about Elwood Standard, which is to say it was more expensive than the back streets of St Kilda but cheaper than Brighton.