For a Perth girl who more commonly associates laneways with muggings rather than muffins, the wealth of bars and restaurants crammed into the back streets of Melbourne is a revelation.
Looking for breakfast I was attracted to the moody colours of La Citta on Degraves Street.
There are a few tables outside and a few more inside. It's small. Intimate, you could say. With dark paint and smoked mirrors on the walls and dim lighting from the red chandelier, even at eight in the morning you feel like you are in a gin joint. Without the smoke of course.
We are all crammed in together and the conversation from the next table is louder than the music, which is a pity, because the three blokes are having a rather lame business meeting but the music is vintage and cool. Perhaps, perhaps…
Shelves bursting with wine bottles and vintage prints compete with cursive script on the walls detailing the evening menu and wines. It is difficult to read the elegant whirls, but it's too early anyway.
In the evenings La Citta is a popular tapas style restaurant, with a good range of wines but in the mornings the menu is more mainstream. Standard breakfast fare such as toasted sandwiches ($7-$9), eggs on toast ($10.5), porridge with apple cinnamon ($13) and eggs benedict ($17.5) are listed alongside more interesting offerings such as ricotta hotcakes with banana, berries and maple mascarpone ($19) and Spanish style scrambled eggs with chorizo, parsley and chilli ($19.5).
I order the sweet corn and avocado salsa with poached eggs and bacon ($19). It arrives within ten minutes and I like what I see. True, the eggs are very small but they are perfectly cooked and runny yolk burst over the chewy sour dough when I poke them with my knife. The corn has been freshly cut off the cob and the avocado is in soft cubes. If you enjoy your bacon crispy then this is place for you, but I imagine they could cook it a few minutes less if you preferred.
Service is polite but not excessively friendly, exactly what you want in the morning. I personally found the coffee a tad bitter ($3.50) but otherwise it was an enjoyable breakfast. La Citta is conveniently located a short walk from Flinders Street Station, well placed for breakfast before you head into the city.