Twenty and Six
North Melbourne. It’s probably one of the more under-utilised suburbs for breakfast options. But what it lacks in breakfasts it more than makes up for in rubbish football teams and unusual cultural houses (I once did a Czech class somewhere in North Melbourne, so from now on I’ll make the gross generalisation that all cultural houses are here).
Twenty and Six was recommended to me by a bit of a high flyer I work with. I love him dearly, but I’m also well aware that he is much smarter than I and has a far greater grasp on culinary delights. This meant there was a significant chance that I would not ‘get’ the food at Twenty and Six, sort of like how I didn’t ‘get’ the food at Duchess of Spotswood. I mean, I loved it, but the quality of the ingredients and ‘wow’ factor of serving offal for breakfast was waaaaaaaasted on me.
It’s probably the smallest cafe I’ve ever walked into. One big table that seats around ten lucky people (lucky because they got to hang out with yours truly on this particular morning), and then six or seven two seater tables. There’s also a handful of seats against the window and one or two facing the coffee area, which I can only assume was delightfully quiet.
Service was quick and friendly and I noticed the wait staff happily chatted to those who came in for take away coffee. I wish I bought take away coffee more often. Carrying it around makes me feel like a) an important business woman, b) a celebrity being papped, or c) Jeremy Clarkson. None of which I am, especially the latter (if you’re reading – hi Jeremy! Love your book! Need a right hand man? My dad is semi retired so has heaps of time on his hands if you need).
I took the last seat free at the share table and wedged myself between the enormous wooden table and wall. To give you an idea of how squishy it was, I brought my own newspapers to read only to leave them in their plastic wrap after failing to unfold my arms in the space available let alone unwrap the paper.
I spent several minutes weeping with joy over the truly mind blowing tea selections they offer before ordering The Hunter with poached egg. I noticed how enormous the meal sizes were so promptly stood up and did one hundred star jumps in an attempt to burn off the calories I was about to consume. Eventually I was threatened with a strait jacket so I took my seat.
Now, I want you all to look at this dish. Just look! Look at the Pro Hartness of it! The stack is so perfectly proportioned! The mushrooms, all of similar size, all bottoms up, the chorizo cut into identical shapes, and a sprinkling of parmesan forming a light netting over the whole thing. I understand that in these photos the dish kind of looks like a brown blob, but I promise thee – it’s not the look of the dish that makes it a work of art, it’s the architecturally sound construction, and the whole thing carried much more artistic credibility than whoever painted my apartment’s feature wall a patchy black (boo to whoever did that, by the way. Booo!)
The taste pretty much reflected the look – powerful, intense and interesting. The egg was cooked very much like a duck egg I had a Vue de Monde recently, so I suspect this is how an egg is supposed to be cooked, and although the black truffle oil was pretty potent, it worked well with the dish. To be honest thought I can’t imagine it would work with many others. The balsamic was very noticeable in the mushrooms too, so if you’re not a fan of this may I suggest you order something – anything – else.
This isn’t a dish you would order if you were about to go for a jog or were on a strict weight loss regime. It is, however, the dish you order should you be keen to test your gut capacity because, as I said earlier, Twenty and Six do not skimp on servings.
Overall, this was an unusual experience. I think perhaps the cafe is a local’s secret, hence the four seats available to diners, however if the beauty and quality of the dishes continues I can’t imagine it’ll stay that way for much longer.