March 31, 2013 by FoodFloozy
Address: 680 Centre Road, Bentleigh East, Victoria
Rating: Match made in heaven (5/5)
I have to admit, after living in St Kilda and North Melbourne, I was a little saddened by the cafe culture here and around the Bentleigh East/Bentleigh/Oakleigh/Caufield area. Sure, sure, they have nice cafes with nice coffee – but it’s NOT THE SAME. Yep, I know we’re not in Kansas anymore Toto, but a girl can dream that someone will set up shop here in the burbs and serve both amazing coffee, fantastic food and push the boundaries of the simple bacon and eggs… surely?
Enter the Merchants Guild!
My face almost split with the biggest of smiles when the Hubby pointed our newest cafe, Merchants Guild. From the outside it looks warm, well thought out and different. You’d drive a good 8km to find another place like it (i.e. The Parlour, in Cheltenham). Upon entry, I was hit by the aroma of spices and coffee. The open plan kitchen meant I could see the chefs clearly – and the hot, glistening potatoes they just retrieved from the oven – as well as a nice small selection of baked goods near the register.
We were met almost immediately by a really friendly dude, who guided us to one of their all-wooden booths. I didn’t catch his name, but he’s the owner, along with the Head Chef and the Barister, who are all partners. The fact that these three people are partners is an important thing to note peeps, as this means that you’re rather assured of excellent food, coffee and service, as all key areas are represented by a partner in the business. They used to own Inkr7 cafe in St Kilda – which was a favorite of the locals there.
That said, the coffee was FANTASTIC. The Guild are rotating their coffee on a monthly basis, from local roasting houses. This one, if I remember correctly, was from Omar & the Marvellous Coffee Bird. My milk was pleasantly warm and creamy and the decafe actually tasty – I know, crazy huh? Hubby, taking a sip of his espresso, sung it’s praises saying that it was really fruity and complex – in short, he loved it.
I ordered the Roast potato bubble and squeak, hot smoked trout, horseradish cream, cornichons and two poached eggs (with the eggs well done due to pregnancy paranoia). In a world? OHMYGODYUM! You know when you get a plate of food and every element dances in your mouth? Yep, that’s what you get here.
Hubby went for the Sweet pea and feta, spread on rye, Spanish sardines, lemon and herb crumb (+ poached egg for $2 extra). He was delighted by the balance offered by each element on the plate – the sardines cut through the richness of the feta, whilst the fresh herbs, feta and sweet pea complimented the sardine flavor. The poached egg was glorious and the only tiny drawback was that the crumb didn’t quite add anything to the dish – it didn’t take anything away either, but it wasn’t strong enough to do/add anything.
And everything else?
You know when you’ve ‘just had the best eat ever’, and then someone sits next you and says “Hi, yes I’d like the sardines, but I don’t like sardines, so can you remove them and just put on some avocado?” Sheesh man, what a NOOB!! However, I was over the moon with the response, which was, and said with all the charm in the world, “We don’t alter our menu items, however I can add some mushrooms and put the sardines to one side if you like? The sardines are very nice however, and not fishy at all, so I truly think you’ll enjoy them”. YAY! GO MERCHANTS GUILD!
Also, I hear this place does a fantastic Chai blend (well, the owner said it does), which you can buy to drink there, but also take home. I didn’t have room to try that this day, but I’ll be back to do so… maybe even today!
Not today, but that is only because we got up early and were there around 8am, when there weren’t too many others around. The menu speaks for itself however, and it was VERY hard to choose something. I’m rather confident however, regardless of what you choose, you’ll be over the moon.
So in summary, two and a bit years in to home ownership in the burbs and we have been gifted the best of gifts – a freaking awesome cafe, just down the road. I’m doing my happy dance, people will be told, I will be going back. What a match made in heaven!