Apparently Mario’s Cafe on Brunswick St is a bit of an institution in Melbourne. Not what you’d call modern, but it certainly appears to be authentic Italian in the manner beloved by Melburnians. It’s my friend Craig’s fave breakfast place, and only 10 minutes walk from his apartment in Fitzroy.
Now the litmus test of a quality establishment is in the coffee, and Mario’s delivered on that. My macchiato was bold but not bitter and Craig’s long black was perfect. We were off to an auspicious start. The wait staff with black trousers, white shirts and red ties looked super smart, and took their waiting seriously.
Craig and I both hungered for poached eggs; his choice was Benedict with ham, and mine was less traditional with smashed peas, mint, feta and chilli.
Craig was happy with his perfectly cooked eggs with a generous slice of ham atop a muffin smothered in Bearnaise sauce.
I loved the sweetness of the smashed peas in my dish, which led me to conclude that they must have been fresh. I’ve never tasted frozen peas this sweet before. Combined with lashing of creamy feta and finely sliced red chilli, and redolent with mint, this was a simple but compatible marriage of flavours.
Mario’s Cafe on Brunswick St is one of many eateries along this busy strip. It’s not showy or remotely trendy, but it is good old-fashioned service and food with a tiny touch of the exotic thrown in for good measure.