Judging newcomers can be a bit like asking a newborn foal to run the Melbourne Cup – it usually takes them time to find their feet. Not so at Oscar Cooper! They flew out of the gates only 7 weeks ago and now they’re a full length ahead of their closest Prahran rivals.
When I said this was a “Spring Carnival edition”, I really just meant “there is a horse race analogy in the opening paragraph”. You can put your fascinators down.
I was deliberately early to a breakfast date, choosing to spend some time sitting quietly and catching up on some work. The morning was warm and breezy, so it was with a fair modicum of delight that I chose an outdoor table at Oscar Cooper on which to display my wares*. This is a very nice corner position indeed, facing the quieter St Edmonds Road and not Greville Street. Being that it was so warm, I ordered a pineapple and other fruit speciality to be crushed and served in a glass with ice.
Unfortunately I was working so very hard that I forgot to drink it. When the waiter came out to check on me, he saw that juice and pulp had separated, wept openly for the loss of my juice innocence and promptly replaced it at no charge. Brilliant!
Once my friends (the insultingly excellent Magda and Georgie) had arrived and I’d put the whole juice saga behind me, we spent a good deal of time deliberating over what is a seriously good menu. I know this is what I should expect in Prahran, but coming from suburbs that insist on spelling ‘roesti’ without an ‘e’, I am always so pleasantly surprised. For me, it was a toss-up between the ‘Oscar benedict’ – poached eggs on potato roesti with Berkshire bacon, smashed avocado and hollandaise and a Corn fritter with poached eggs, house cured salmon and baby asparagus and hollandaise. Were I more wealthy, I might have ordered both, but chose the benedict because how often do you get one that comes standard with both roesti and smashed avocado? That’s right, never.
I don’t know what Berkshire bacon is, and I’m not going to google it, but you know that if the bacon has a proper noun in front of it, it’s going to be better than supermarket bacon (bacon that doesn’t even have the word ‘bacon’ in it is even better – ref kaiserfleisch).
I am hesitant to have any complaints about Oscar Cooper, because the staff were supremely excellent and I never want to hurt their feelings as long as I live, but the food did take a little while to come out. It’s okay, it was worth the wait, I’m just letting you know in case you’re in a hurry.
My first reaction was one of mild nerves due to the squareness of the roesti. I am a rustic girl – I like to see the ingredients get loose on my plate in a flavour orgy. I like to see the emotions of my food, not have it closed up and unavailable to the love I intend to force upon it. I want my food to be naked and exposed.
As it happens, I needn’t have worried. The roesti was crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside, as it should be, with great texture and heaps of flavour. It formed a fantastic base for what was a seriously good breakfast dish and I should learn not to judge cliches by their covers.
Having said that, it was amazing I was able to form an opinion about the roesti at all, considering I could barely see it underneath what might have been half a Berkshire pig. This bacon went on for days! Weeks! There was literally light years of bacon on my plate. In what may be a first for mankind anywhere, I sent bacon back to the kitchen with my otherwise empty plate. Who knew that ‘too much bacon’ was a thing?
The smashed avo and poached eggs cannot be faulted, which means that on the whole, this was a faultless dish, though I must qualify that by saying that I didn’t really eat any hollandaise so can’t vouch for it.
Oscar Cooper may be new, but it is a serious contender for Anna’s Favourite Prahran Breakfast (a title held till now by the always stunning Yellow Bird). The menu has been crafted with so much care that you should schedule in time to go back and try every dish therein. Prediction: the indoor/outdoor dining will win many a heart as the weather warms up, and the spectacular wait staff will keep the crowds coming time after time.