A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published August 2nd 2018
A pearl of a place in the north-eastern suburbs
One of the owners of the Ivy and Pearl Cafe, Daniel Kadamani, is realistic about the prospects of operating a cafe that's off the beaten track, tucked down a side street in suburban Rosanna. 'We need to have a reason for people to come here', he says. With little passing trade, and seemingly not a high volume of customer traffic to the other shops in the strip, it may take time for customers to get to know about Ivy and Pearl, but based on our recent visit, it's definitely a venue that should go on cafe aficionados' lists.
Walking into Ivy and Pearl, we are given a friendly greeting from James, the head barista. Along with this positive start, our impressions of the decor are also favourable. The cafe looks bright and fresh, with an appealing array of cakes in the display cabinet. It makes for an inviting entrance. The venue was operating as a cafe when Daniel and wife (and business partner) Stephanie took it over just a few months ago, so all it required when they arrived was a 'spruce up'.
Inside Ivy and Pearl - fresh, bright and instantly appealing
Out the back of the cafe is a surprisingly large deck area. Unoccupied on this cool winter morning, we were concerned it may be too cold to sit outside. But the area is largely closed off (with plastic blinds allowing natural light to filter through), and was quickly made cosy with the effective heating.
A scan of the menu hints at Middle Eastern influences. For example, there are Shakshuka Baked Eggs ($16.90), sticky date waffles (made with Medjool dates) ($16.90), and a 'Zaatar Fold Over of the day' ($13.90). But if you aren't so experimental in your food selection, you'll find safer options, such as chilli folded eggs ($16.90) and smashed avocado ($17.90).
I explained to Daniel that my partner David (who was with me) is currently on a 'salad only' diet and asked for a recommendation. 'Falafel salad' was his quick reply. The salad comprises falafel, Lebanese cucumber, radish, pomegranate and soft herb salad, tossed through a yoghurt tahini dressing, flatbread crisps and carrot hummus ($15.90).
Falafel salad - art on a plate
I settled on the Breakfast Panacotta: yoghurt and orange blossom panacotta, house made maple pecan and walnut granola, linseed crisps, seasonal fruits, mandarin gel ($16.90).
Two lovely large coffees arrived in good time, complete with clever coffee art, showing that barista James knows his stuff. The cafe has partnered with Axil Coffee Roasters to ensure a quality brew.
When our dishes arrived they certainly had the 'wow' factor! 'Food as art' has become our new hashtag, and both our dishes qualified. I couldn't wait to tuck into my panacotta - it was cruel to have to wait while we took photos. Dave described my dish as looking like jewels from the sea, and I could see what he meant. The brightly coloured fruits, and the slice of star fruit (looking just a little like a starfish) did give it an aquatic feel.
The panacotta was perfect in its consistency and firmness, and the flavour was divine. The orange blossom overtones were subtle yet flavourful. What was clever was the balance of flavours but also textures on the plate. The citrus tones of the sliced red grapefruit worked well with the sweetness of the panacotta; the crunchiness of the linseed crisp was a great companion to the creamy smoothness of the panacotta.
Breakfast panacotta - definitely has the wow factor!
The falafel salad, again, had such a strong visual impact when it hit the table that we were soon eating with our eyes. As with the panacotta, the dish is strong on flavour and textural contrasts. David particularly liked the punchy flavours of the pickled vegetables. The carrot hummus, as well as being a bright accent on the plate, pulled the dish together in a cohesive way.
Scanning the menu once again, I noticed Ivy and Pearl offer a beetroot latte. While I'm very familar with Matcha lattes and turmeric lattes, I had not previously tried a beetroot latte, so took the opportunity. Again, it looked very appealing, a vibrant beetroot pink. Flavour wise, it's heavy on spices, particularly cinnamon, and they tend to dominate the taste. I enjoyed this brew and would happily have it as an occasional alternative to coffee.
Overall, it was a first class experience at Ivy and Pearl and we recommend you visit soon!
Ivy and Pearl is located at 29 - 31 Davies Street, Rosanna. It is open seven days, from 7.30am - 3.00pm Monday to Friday, and from 8.00am - 3.00pm on weekends.
Click here for Ivy and Pearl's website and their downloadable menu. However as their website is still being developed, you might also want to have a look at their Facebook page for more information and photos.
The images in this article were taken by the writer.