gusto @ barkly

587 Barkly Street, West Footscray
(03) 9396 1755
Free wi-fi

A sunny spring Sunday morning and time to check out the (relatively) new West Footscray place called Gusto @ Barkly.

Orlando and I are stalwarts of Cafe le Chien in Seddon, more or less since we moved to Australia in 2005. Although we check out other weekend brunch place regularly, the relaxed atmosphere, familiar greeting as we arrive, perfect weekend music and legendary scrambled eggs keep bringing us back. So we knew Gusto would have a lot to measure up to.

Around eleven on a Sunday the place was about half full. We were seated and a drinks order taken quickly and pleasantly. The first impression was one of noise: the decor doesn’t absorb much of the ambient sounds and so we frequently had to lean over the table to hear each other talk. One toddler throwing a tantrum at the door and another who had never been taught about indoor voices didn’t help. There was music playing, I think, but there was no way we could discern the artist.

Nonetheless, we ordered our usual breakfasts: chilli scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and bacon for Orlando, poached eggs on toast with mushrooms and tomato for me. Although chilli eggs were not on the menu there was no problem ordering them. I liked that there was a choice of multigrain and sourdough breads (all the bread served is Zeally Bay – nice). A half-strength pot of English breakfast for me and a pot of green tea for Orlando, and we were good to go.

Orlando’s order came out a little twisted. His scrambled eggs did indeed have chillis in them (not a huge amount) but they had also cooked the smoked salmon in there too. Not his favourite way,  but not enough of a deal to complain. The bacon was served on my plate rather than his, so we just swapped it over. And, inexplicably, his scrambled eggs were not served on any toast. My poached eggs had come out on multigrain as I had asked: perhaps because Orlando had not specified which bread, they assumed he wanted neither. Again, as he is not a huge carb lover he didn’t bother mentioning it, but if it had been me I would have. The scrambled eggs he declared as tasty enough, but they looked a but milky around the edges to me.

On the other hand my breakfast was really good. The multigrain was so much better than the toasted sourdough served at so many breakfast places, which can be hell to slice with a normal knife. The poached eggs were perfect, and the huge half-tomatoes were slow-cooked just the way I like them. The mushrooms were nicely fried but not in much oil at all, again exactly to my taste.

All in all, not a bad breakfast experience, and although the ambient noise would stop this being a permanent weekend fixture, I can see us coming here occasionally for a change.  Free wi-fi is also a welcome offer – there’s not many places do this yet. The pizza menu looks good and the short but well-selected wine list looks very like the best of what I’ve been drinking in the past year – at least in the reds section.

I will definitely try this place again in the evening and see whether it can fill the gaping pizza-shaped hole in my life: I have to drive for quite a while to get decent pizza in the inner West and I will be quite excited if it is now available on my doorstep.

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eau de vie

233 Chapel St, Prahran, 3181
(03) 9510 0955

A cold, wet Saturday night out after a long 24-hour hen night. Tired and seedy and in need of sustenance, four of us sought refuge in the cosiness of Eau de Vie for an early dinner.

We warmed up and ordered some drinks: a couple of glasses of shiraz for myself and one other, water for everyone else. The specials sounded good, so we included a couple as we chose our dishes for the evening. The waitress considered what we’d ordered and suggested that she bring them out in complementary groups. Nice touch.

We started out with a small but explosively delicious plate of thinly sliced kingfish carpaccio, seasoned with rock salt,shallots and line leaf oil. A tiny morsel each, but that’s all we needed. Amazing.

Grouped together, they served us a tiny skillet of spicy chickpeas cooked in coconut cream, another sizzling dish of sliced chorizo baked with pear and cider, a generous portion of slow-roasted lamb with pumpkin and pinenuts, and a side of perfect crispy roasted potato bites. A bowl of rocket salad with parmesan and candied walnut completed the feast.

There was just enough of each dish to get a decent tasting between four people: as you know, I dislike sharing, especially  tapa-sized dishes with larger groups. We grazed until there was not a morsel of food in any dish, and left satisfied.

The only tiny gripe I would mention would be that we all found the lighting a little on the dark side. It was irritating reading the menu, and the beautifully-presented dishes lost a little at table because we simply could not see well enough. The other worry was that about half the seating was on simple wooden stools around trestle tables. I simply could not have sit comfortably on a little stool like that for long, and it would be a deal-breaker for me if they didn’t have a proper chair for me next time I went back.

I didn’t check it out myself, but I understand this little place offers free wifi as well – something that should be encouraged with our future business.

Eau de Vie on Urbanspoon