Posts Categorized: cafe

Busting the great Pellegrini’s myth

People love Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar. It’s because of the atmosphere and the 1950s charm. It’s a great place to hang out and watch the top end of Bourke Street go by – as long as you are not eating or drinking coffee. If you have anything more ambitious than a glass of water (alcohol isn’t served) you’ll be disappointed because the food and the coffee are also both stuck in the 1950s. But the place is packed, so why would they change? And it is a shame that they don’t at least learn to make coffee properly. The espresso is foul, with the combination of old-style Vittoria Beans (the same blend from the 1950s I’m told, which appears to be the coffee equivalent of Barossa Shiraz) and overextraction making for mouth puckering bitterness. The latte. Well, we couldn’t refuse it although my companion @melbournebitter tried. The Barista’s eyes hypnotized her into saying “…he asked with those brown coffee bean eyes.” And so it was he strutted his cocksure self to the espresso machine and continued eyeing her up, paying more attention to the “lady” than the coffee. And she loved it. Sure enough the latte was thin and bitter. The colour of mushroom, and thanks to overheating of the milk, it had lost all it’s sweetness. It was a travesty. The food is better than the coffee but slap dash at best in cooking and presentation. The spaghetti looks like slop, although served with meatballs tasted just about alright. The lasagne was overcooked and piping hot, so hot that we wondered whether or not it had been microwaved. It reminded me of the kind of refectory food I’ve been served at schools and colleges, frankly the kind of stuff I don’t want to eat anymore. In fact, it tasted just like the pasta from The Spaghetti Tree opposite. Sure, Pellegrini’s is a romantic venue. I can see why visitors to Melbourne would visit the place for its charm. But for your own sake avoid the coffee. And think twice before eating.

Cibi: a cafe and a gallery by any other name

Cibi: try the green tea muffins Cibi is a cafe that thinks it’s a gallery. Actually, it is a gallery and regularly holds openings to launch the various (mainly kitchen) products it imports (mainly) from Japan. Housed in a modern warehouse building on Keele St, the Cibi space features a large open kitchen and grunge cafe mixing found objects and mismatched tables and chairs with a minimalist feel – if that makes sense. It’s the brainchild of former architecture nut Zenta Ganaka who has curated the collection of absolutely beautiful Japanese kitchen implements it sells. The range includes featherweight but tough glasses made from the same material as light bulbs, kettles, teapots, teacups, graters, bento boxes, pans and ladles. It includes the Kobo Aizawa black cutlery – the black butter knives you may have seen at Cutler & Co – and I can reveal that Andrew McConnell’s new St Kilda project, Golden Fields, which is set to open in May is working with Ganaka. But back to the cafe. The coffee (Romcaffe) is pretty good, the green teas excellent, and the food has a great Japanese spin. At weekends the Japanese breakfast featuring rice, great miso soup, salmon and potato salad. Personally, I love the frangipane tarts and muffins too. Especially the green tea ones (pictured up top) which have a layer of red bean paste inside. And more than anything the place has heart. Cibi is sending money each week to support the Japanese earthquake victims. It’s worth a visit to help them help out if nothing else. Enjoy.