A cafe that’s located quite a bit out of the CBD but very conveniently close to Southern Cross station that I’ve had the last couple of stop by meetings with friends here at Higher Ground. Really good coffee, standard reliable quality, and a modern ambience, with a touch of some Melbourne red brick house nostalgia.
This was again a farewell, not entirely a sad one though; we’re rather rejoyful that we get to meet again as friends bonded over the semester in a foreign country. They were my German buddy and her boyfriend, shipped all the way here from Berlin – die echte Berliners. I do wish them well on their travels up the coast in a caravan and seeing more of Australia and the natural scenery. Of course also scuba diving, seeing that they especially got scuba diving licences in time for the exchange.
Higher Ground’s part of the chain who run Top Paddock in Richmond and Kettle Black on St Kilda Road. Signature dish: Hotcakes. Something you definitely have to try even if sweets aren’t your thing and although $23 seems rather hefty for a hotcake, believe me it will probably fill you up for two meals – I always barely get past the first quarter. Beautifully made and adorned by small flowers, colours, a dollop of ice cream dusted with raspberry. There’s plenty of photos of these on Instagram so if you’d like a preview, do check it out: #hotcake #higherground.
We got the earthy flavoured dishes – a mince on toast with brilliant sunny side up eggs spiced with dhukkah and middle eastern flavours, and a cured cauliflower scrambled eggs on flatbread topped with more purple cauliflowers and curry leaves.
I’ve noticed recently that I’m not the biggest fan of bread ever since I got back from Europe – especially not toast and especially not when the toast is crispy. Ugh. Good bread should never be toasted. So I’ve been finding it rather difficult at some places to find brunch dishes without toast and are charming enough alternatives. This flatbread was super – fluffy and rightly sticky, infused with the curry leaf scent. It was a great size for me as well; a crumpet sized mini stack of goodies. I can’t remember what the single origin of the day was but had a black one of those, which surprisingly went well with the curry and egg flavours.
The best part to our visit was being baffled by how they made poached eggs in the kitchen. We had a prime seat facing the serving stand – a show in itself where we just eyeballed dish after dish being plated with such mastery. After probably an hour of staring, my friend (who is incredibly inquisitive and very bold – oodles of fun) asked a waitress about the eggs. Our suspicions at that stage was that in this deep pot, where all these poached eggs were born, there was definitely a mould – there was no way that the egg production could be so streamlined and errorless! When the waitress returned to us with a chef’s answer, we were proven wrong! Just pure skills and vinegar.
We were actually invited for a poached egg viewing after waiting another quarter of an hour for the next batch of eggs and a quieter kitchen. The following picture shows you this egg poaching pot. The chefs probably thought we were idiots for being so curious, but I thought it was fine because they clearly found it flattering that we were amazed by a perfected skill that they must’ve spent billions of eggs on. One egg in each hand, a simple crack on the pot sides, lowered near the water, open egg per hand, and drop! So. Simple. To be fair though, even if we did have the egg cracking skills, the deep pot they had in the kitchen does contribute to these eggs because they allow the egg to drop and form quite a bit before hitting the bottom (and not sticking!). Vinegar was also quite a key, and I quote “1 Litre bottle for a 20 Litre pot”. Well that was an eventive day where we solved the restaurant mystery of poached eggs.