Coffee and cake. Life in Melbourne revolves around the sweet and the caffeinated and the scene in Elsternwick is much like everywhere else.
You've got a shopping strip between Nepean Highway and Kooyong Road containing, ooh, roughly three million cafes. I have my personal favourites but there's only one that makes old-fashioned sweet slices like The Women's Weekly Cookbook used to publish, before it went crazy-healthy and a tad, well, foreign.
Not that there's anything wrong with Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, Indian recipes et al. It's just that multiculturalism seems to have pushed out magnificent 1970s Anglo sophistications like Toad in the Hole and Angels on Horseback. And, of course, slices.
Hence, My Belly. This narrow, sun-splashed cafe opened in April 2012 and does a good job feeding breakfasts and lunches to the surrounding office workers and freelancing wordsmiths. Abutting an Indian, a Lebanese and a Russian establishment and directly opposite a kosher cafe, owners Craig and Belinda have carved out a niche in one of Melbourne's most cafe-heavy strips. The place really fills up on weekends when young families come for the kid-friendly menu.
Perched on the south side of the road, Bigger Than My Belly's front area basks in the blazing north sun while a rear area caters to those craving less vitamin D. You take a seat on a wooden bench furnished with scatter cushions or on a no-nonsense plastic stool and eat at a plain wooden table.
A Nuova Simonelli two-group espresso machine pumps out decent brews made with Toby's Estate beans while eggs come three ways with 10 extras available and Melbourne's ickiest breakfast fad - sweet/salty French toast with bacon and maple syrup - is served here with added banana.
Porridge and muesli come with tasty trimmings (pomegranate seeds, pecan nuts) or choose ricotta pikelets with smoked salmon, spinach and dill cream for a filling breakfast. The zucchini and corn fritters can be ordered vegetarian (spinach and avocado) or meaty (with spinach and chorizo).
On weekends, croissants and sourdough bread from artisan baker Matisse are available to eat in or take home.
What else could you want? Well, lunchtime's rolled around and Bigger Than My Belly offers good cafe versions of either beef or vegetarian burgers; pot pies (beef with Guinness or chicken with mushroom); 'steak sanga' and a daily special or two. In winter, there's a soup. All lunch mains are blessed with side salad and 'fat chips'. These are indeed chips to make you fat; they're beer-battered, crispy and delicious.
I mentioned baked goods. Eight or nine types of slice grace the glass display case and I have never seen the same mix from one day to the next. If it's old-fashioned, you'll find it here.
In no particular order, varieties include: lamington slice, rocky road slice, choc-cherry slice, Mars bar slice, caramel, lemon and flourless orange slices, white chocolate and macadamia brownie, Snickers brownie and, often, a couple of types of cup cake.
A kids' menu offers toasties and mini-burgers for lunch and five breakfast options.