On a cold and wet Sunday afternoon, its any wonder why people would be out of the comfort of warm houses and cosy pajamas. The perfect opportunity, we thought, to explore popular cafes on our 'must-visit' list. How naïve we were.
Richmond's Top Paddock is relatively new to the café scene, having been open for not quite a year, however it has already struck a cult following. Expect bustling vibes and a waiting list - albeit a short one - in order to snag a table at another of Melbourne's highly sought-after venues.
The owners, Nathan Toleman, Ben Clark and Diamond Rozekeas, bring together impressive experience (Three Bags Full, Two Birds One Stone, Liar Liar) and fresh vision through Sam Slattery in order to bring us this open yet modern nod to Melburnians' passion for coffee and brunch. Just across the road from Chris Lucas' popular Italian hub Baby, the two share street cred and a no-bookings policy (only on weekends; Top Paddock takes bookings for four on weekdays) that sends their reputations soaring.
[ADVERT]On this particular occasion, my companions and I waited approximately ten minutes for a table amongst cosy couples and fresh-faced youths. Despite the populated space, service was generally quick and the wait for food was adequate at about ten minutes. Top Paddock serves Five Senses coffee and our simple latte orders were satisfying but could perhaps be hotter. The menu lends itself to coffee connoisseurs through filtered varieties and a 'coffee of the day' for the experimental diner.
Any potential letdown in waiting time or not-quite-hot-enough coffee was completely outweighed by the menu, comprised of seasonal all-day breakfast and lunch items in a league of their own. We decided to order different meals and create a tasting palette because, after all, indecision is a guarantee considering the scrumptious list.
The oats porridge with strawberry and rhubarb compote, rapadura sugar and pistachios ($14.50) was velvety smooth and perfect for the dreary winter's day outside. The combination of homely winter berries and crunchy pistachios was the perfect balance of textures, and the generous serving was more than enough to fill even the hungriest patron. The ricotta hotcake with blueberries, organic maple, seeds and organic mascarpone ($15.50) was presented in a beautiful deep-set dish resembling a warm, fluffy cake. The old-fashioned method of hotcakes has been given a revival on menus everywhere using ricotta, giving a lighter, fluffier texture and creamy middle that expertly soaks up the organic maple. No more dense hotcakes that are impossible to finish, this variety whilst filling me to the brim is impossible not to finish.
Lastly, we felt it imprudent to skip out on some form of savoury egg dish and so it was the purple potato and buffalo ash brie omelette with padron peppers and San Jose chorizo on toasted sourdough ($19.00) that out the last place on our order. The omelette itself was delightfully light, allowing the other flavours to take the lead. The dish is available without chorizo, however it is this smoky South American sausage that does all the talking. A few more pieces wouldn't go astray, however the subtle purple potato, peppers and buffalo brie run smoothly together for a humble accompaniment to the omelette.
The menu caters terrifically to brunch, however a few menu items are offered for a late afternoon lunch for those who wish to keep routine. The clever twist on the steak sandwich with tempura baby leeks, horseradish cream and wasabi leaves ($19.00) or the highly sought-after soft shell Queensland mud crab roll with fennel, dill and lime mayonnaise in a brioche bun ($21.00) are definite must-trys.
And so the dynasty of the owners' repertoire continues and with it Melbourne welcomes this on-trend brunch hub with open arms, but get in quick as who knows how long the hype will continue.