Wednesday, November 2, 2011

St Edmonds: A Gourmet Garage

St Edmonds

Address: Rear 154 Greville Street, Prahran, VIC, 3181

Phone: (03) 9525 0437

Open: Monday and Sunday, 7am until 7pm
Tuesday to Saturday, 7am until 10pm

On the corner of Greville Street and St Edmonds Road in Prahran, there once sat an old brick garage. Today, the only sign of it’s former use is a roller door that remains inside. Since St Edmonds all-day eatery opened earlier this year, the building has been transformed into the place to eat and be seen. From the outside, graffiti-style abstract birds brighten up the walls.

St Edmonds' interior and design is fresh and playful. Take for instance the denim overall aprons worn by the staff (designed by Scanlan & Theodore) and the pot plants hanging in denim bags on the walls. When busy, patrons sit at the wooden bar, which overlooks a glass display cabinet filled with mini rolls and other delights. Muffins, slices and pastries line the bench top, bookended by a set of cream antique scales. 

The La Marzocco espresso machine is constantly in full swing, churning out Syndicate coffee for both in house and take-away orders. Grab a paper or a magazine from the green coat hanger racks while you enjoy your daily grind. If you’ve had your fill of caffeine for the day, St Edmonds is licensed and you can order White Rabbit, Little Creatures or Asahi on tap. 

With warmer weather on the horizon, St Edmonds patrons are already beginning to migrate from the wooden tables inside to the pot plant-lined courtyard. We visited for breakfast on the weekend and had a delightful experience, leaving us surprised to find so many poor reviews on Urbanspoon.

The staff were not only easy on the eye, but were chatty and hospitable. Our waitress was incredibly funky and friendly; the smile never disappeared from her face, despite being under the pump in a full capacity cafe.

We ordered coffee as soon as we were seated. The full-bodied, nutty brew hit the spot. Although it didn’t need sugar, I was tempted to add some anyway, as it was presented in quirky ‘crumpled’ glass cups, replicas of the plastic ones you find at children’s parties. You can buy them here if you want. We ordered from the breakfast menu, which came delivered in a stamped, manila envelope.

The orange blossom, sunflower seed and hazelnut bircher muesli was both filling and luscious. The generous serve had a porridge-like consistency, balanced by the crushed hazelnuts sprinkled on top. Grated granny smith apples added a sweet tang and aromatic hints of orange blossom remained on the palate after each mouthful.

The potato rosti eggs were served with sautéed spinach, d'Affinois cheese and thyme filled mushrooms. The rostis were cooked until the outer shell had a crunchy layer while the inside remained soft. The meaty mushrooms and gooey d'Affinois added another dimension to this dish, which was completed with two perfectly poached eggs—a refreshing substitution for ‘eggs on toast.’ 

The St Edmonds' big breakfast equivalent consists of poached eggs with sausage, Istra bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and potato gems. The two white spheres arrived balanced on a piece of thick sourdough toast, surrounded by liberal piles of sides. Little touches like harrissa on the mushrooms, relish on the sausages and melted cheese on the roasted tomatoes made all the difference, but it was the potato gems that had us drooling. Two “Woodside chevré-thyme gems” came as crumbed globes that revealed a soft cheese centre peppered with herbs when divided in half. They were much too tasty to be healthy.

Also ordered was the simpler version of ‘eggs with sides.’ This consisted of scrambled eggs on toast with the harrissa tossed mushrooms and potato rosti. It was nothing we hadn’t already covered with the other dishes, but it showed that the menu allows for some flexibility when it comes to building your own breakfast, despite not accepting alterations to the menu items “unless you’re very special, and even then, never on weekends.” 

Finally, St Edmonds' signature dish was tested, or more accurately, scoffed. The spanner crab and chilli omelette simply works. The perfectly cooked egg omelette was slightly browned on the outside and folded in half. Enhanced with traces of sweet crab meet, it arrived topped with fresh bean sprouts and rolled up roti bread. Drizzled with a sweet chilli sauce and peppered with sesame crumble, it certainly lived up to its reputation.

We polished off our meals and ordered a second round of coffees. After such a delicious breakfast, it makes sense to return to try out lunch and/or dinner. The three sandwich options on the menu (ginger and soy chicken panini, coleslaw and roasted garlic baguette, and pork belly panini with carmalised lemongrass balsamic) are not the only lunch choices. There was also a blackboard of approximately 10 daily specials. The most tempting for me was the soy glazed duck salad with soba noodles, pickled radish and snow pea tendrils, dressed in a teriyaki reduction. 

Dinner is divided into small plates and big plates. Share any four small plates for $45 and chose from the likes of goat’s cheese balls with fig and honey, five spice calamari with pickled cucumber and black vinegar ginger soy, or the Yuzu lobster taco with Japanese mayonnaise and tomato concasse. Big plates included the 300-gram char-grilled scotch fillet with truffle mash, caramelised shallots and candied tomato, and the mushroom and saffron risotto with crème fraîche and aged balsamic. For dessert, it would be hard to go past the chocolate tart with vanilla seeds and chestnut honey cream.

With their modern menu, urban-garage décor, attractive and attentive staff and winning location, St Edmonds has all the ingredients for a successful café, restaurant and bar. They’ve put in the hard yards; now all you need to do is nab a table.

St Edmonds on Urbanspoon


  1. Wow - good review and a good selection of dishes to try. Seem to me that they have picked up their act since I visited them a few months ago: .

    From my experience they were a little green behind the gills and that may have translated to lower scores on Urbanspoon by people. If I am in the area I might just pop in to give them another try...


  2. Ah shame you didn't have a good experience Nick! But definitely give it another shot, especially for their breakfast! Perhaps they were still getting the hang of it, they haven't been open that long... or maybe they were just having an "off" day. I will definitely be back though : ).