Melbourne has so much to offer. I love experiencing new places and events and sharing them with you.
I have an interest in gluten free, vegan and vegetarian diets so I will let you know if you these can be catered for in my reviews.
The Banff restaurant as it is now known, has been around since 1947. People know of it, I have discovered, simply because it has 'always been there'.
Cudos to Banff for surviving so long, across different trends and the gentrification of Fitzroy Street. Is it the history that keeps people coming back, or the cute 'cabin' theme? We don't think it is the breakfasts.
In sweltering Melbourne heat, we wandered in after a trip to the St Kilda Farmers Market on a Sunday morning. Yes, the Banff does have an old charm about it. Had it been a cold mid winter visit, we may have mistakenly thought we were in a cabin in the Rockies of Canada. Old pictures,wood logs and a fireplace adorn the walls, alongside contemporary event posters. There was no air conditioning on when we were there, the doors were all open to let the breeze through and the fans were going. It was comfortable.
With so many choices for breakfast along Fitzroy Street, we were attracted to the breakfast menu on the window, which seemed a little different to everywhere else and more reasonable prices.
The sign inside said to order and pay at the counter, however we were pleasantly greeted, seated and provided with menus. We were given water and the waitress promised to return for our order. Although the cafes around this one seemed to be bursting with people, this one was quiet. There is seating outside as well as inside.
The menu we were given was actually different to the one they have online currently. They have added notations of GF for gluten free (and there are quite a few options) and the menu seems to have been simplified.
So, I requested the smashed avocado (with feta, tomato, pumpkin seeds on toast) without the feta and learned that this was pre-prepared, and could not be done. Avocado on toast I asked, surely they could scrape that together for me, but no...it was a definite no. Fair enough, I suppose pre prepared saves time. But the waitress didn't make any suggestions (toast with jam?) or seem the least bit interested in what I was asking for. This was after waiting and waiting to order and eventually calling someone over who seemed unhappy to be there. I was almost ready to leave at that point, to be honest. There were only two other tables, but the staff seemed more interested in chatting amongst themselves behind the counter.
But I was now curious. So I ordered the roasted field mushrooms with spinach, roast tomato, feta and walnuts (without feta). This could be done! We also ordered poached eggs, with roast tomato and potato rosti from the menu.
Spinach, roast field mushrooms, tomato and walnuts on sourdough toast
The presentation of the meals was good and they came out pretty quickly after we ordered. But the taste was pretty average. Neither of us finished ours. It was like the items were put together but not created. There was a lack of flavour in everything. Field mushrooms implies juicy, big mushrooms, but these were your average supermarket variety. I don't believe the mushrooms or the tomato was actually roasted, it seemed more like panfried. The walnuts were a nice touch though. The eggs were rubbery and the potato rosti tasted like it had been cooked yesterday. I felt the quality of the produce was lacking and the cooking of it was also done without care. It was disappointing.
The prices are cheaper than many other cafes around this area and I understand the philosophy is to "give people more and they will return." More flavour would be good.
The coffee was also nothing to rave about. In Melbourne where good coffee is so prominent, this one hardly rates a mention.
We paid for our meals at the counter, and the service up front from where we were originally seated, was again friendly and welcoming.
We have not been back to sample the vast pizza menu or try happy hour, where they have $2.50 pots (a three hour happy hour). But they are open every day from 8am and with such reasonable pricing - maybe this is why they are still here? Perhaps breakfast is not their forte, but regardless, taking customers for granted and food that lacks passion is sad for any restaurant, let alone an iconic restaurant such is Banff.
Banff used to do amazing breakfasts but last time i was there there had been a menu change and definately a drop in quality. Maybe it has been a change of chef or owners? The pizzas and happy hour drinks are still great!