Sunday, 13 August 2006


I fed both mornings this weekend at a place in Balmain called "Stir". I'm not sure how long it has been there - it is one of those cafes that doesn't really stand out, and it is in a spot that I walk past and don't pay any attention to that side of the road - all the action is on the other side of the road. However, on Saturday I finally noticed it and decided to give it a go.

The attractions - it is on the perfect side of the street to get the winter sun in the morning. Sitting outside at a nice little table with the Fin Review was just marvelous. On top of that, no one else seemed to have noticed the place, so I pretty much had it to myself.

The menu also looked pretty good. I had the full-on-fat full breafast, and it was big and good. It had stuff on it that I am really over, like big big big plate sized mushrooms (it should be singular, as there was only one big mushroom), but they had homemade baked beans, and you have to give them points for that.

The downsides - the waiters were a confused bunch. I tried to do a headcount and I think that there were 4 or 5 people working there, and they shared duties between making coffee, manning the stove, serving, taking orders and driving the register. My order seems to have been mixed up as a result, and I had to ask for my coffee again after my meal had arrived. The coffee was good, and the staff were very friendly. There just didn't seemed to be any order or systematic approach to anything. That's ok - when it comes to just me and breakfast, I am happy to accept a happy confused person over an efficient Nazi.

Anyway, I liked it so much, I went back for a feed again this morning. Somehow, more people had noticed the place, and most of the tables in the sun were full. I thought given the confused state of the joint, I would never get my order taken, but a waiter arrived just as I sat down and I gave him my order straight away. I think he was trying to take an order from the table behind me, but I just pushed in and ambushed him and that was that. Nice guys finish hungry.

I ordered the bircher muesli, which took about two aeons to arrive. Ok, I know that you need to soak bircher for some period of time - normally overnight - but it started to appear that some confused person in the kitchen had forgotten to soak the muesli the night before and they were mashing up my muesli on the spot. It would have taken less time to kill a pig and smoke up some bacon that it did to produce my bircher.

Which was a worry because I had bought one of the Sunday papers to go with breakfast and I normally read them in 2 or 3 minutes. They are just trash. Saturday is ok because it takes me a lot longer to get through the AFR, but Sundays usually require 3 or 4 papers if breakfast is going for a long time, and there were no other papers in sight.

Horrors! I had to actually read the social pages and all the liftouts and other crud that comes in the Sunday package. Curses - should have bought the Sunday Age. I know that it is produced by a bunch of scheming socialists, but at least they produce something that is half readable.

So my muesli finally arrives, and it is really fucking horrible. I mean it is right up there with the top 5 worst mueslis that I have ever had, and I do not eat a lot of muesli. Maybe I don't eat a lot of muesli as most of the time it is just yuk. It was stodgy. It was dull. It was like eating wet cardboard. Which is a shame, as I have purchased Whisk & Pin bircher muesli before and made it up and it is quite good. Clearly, they are using cheap muck, and it shows.

It was lightly covered in some sort of berry compote, and there were also four slices of apple. And that was it. I ate about half of it and had to leave the rest behind - I really couldn't face it. After years of listening to mum go on and on about starving children in Africa, and then starving through boarding school, I never leave food on the plate. If it was polite to lick a plate, that's what I would do after each meal. If I left food behind, it must have been really bad.

It was. I don't want to think about it.

What really pains me is that years ago, there was a restaurant in Melbourne - in Malvern I think - that used to serve the most wonderful Bircher. It was a very flash place, and I was always amazed to find it open for breakfast. It had starched tablecloths, waiters in black tie and lots of serious silverware. It did a very good breakfast, and the bircher was outstanding. I used to go there just for the bircher.

Of course it closed years back, and I have never had muesli like it since. But whenever I have muesli, I think of that place, and wish that they could pass on the secret of a good muesli to other eating establishments - because God knows, they need it.

After all that, I will give Stir another go. One of the staff recognised me from Saturday and welcomed me back, so with service like that, they can't go wrong. I will just avoid the mush in a bowl and go for go for pork and cluckers next time.

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