GRAM - - Contents - Lisa Hole­man

Any brunch ad­dict in Mel­bourne would be well ac­quainted with the ba­nana bread at Rich­mond’s brunch in­sti­tu­tion Friends of Mine. But what’s the se­cret to their ba­nana bread which has hordes of hun­gry brunch lovers com­ing back for more week af­ter week? I found out on my lat­est visit to Friends of Mine.

Look for the crowds on this busy cor­ner on the in­dus­trial end of Swan Street and you’ll no doubt find Friends of Mine, a beau­ti­fully white­washed build­ing draped with sun­flower yel­low canopies.

There are plenty of ta­bles and chairs out­side to soak up some Vi­ta­min D on a sunny day or to rest your weary legs with your furry friend. But my favourite seats are in­side in this beau­ti­fully dec­o­rated space, strewn with white­washed and ex­posed brick walls.

The venue is full of per­son­al­ity and quirky charm. True to its name, much of the dé­cor and fur­nish­ings at Friends of Mine, have been sourced from friends and lo­cal con­tacts.

Friends of Mine is clev­erly di­vided into spa­ces which have a unique per­son­al­ity of their own. There’s the front counter and of­ten crowded take­away space, which is filled with de­lec­ta­ble sweet treats and savoury snacks, and let’s not for­get the ca­nary-yel­low La Mar­zocco which churns out count­less cof­fees to caf­feine hun­gry pa­trons. The light filled front room with school chairs and long win­dow bench is a di­rect con­trast to the din­ing room which has a more for­mal vibe with Bent­wood chairs, linen draped ta­bles and classy chan­de­liers.

The menu isn’t one for the in­de­ci­sive, fea­tur­ing a mouth-wa­ter­ing ar­ray of all-day break­fast and lunch op­tions. Friends of Mine strive to serve mostly or­ganic, free-range and lo­cal pro­duce as much as pos­si­ble.

On the ‘favourite friends’ menu there’s a sump­tu­ous se­lec­tion of con­tem­po­rary takes on break­fast clas­sics. Think golden folded eggs with goats cheese on grain, house smoked salmon with sweet corn pikelet and a smashed avo­cado with thyme but­tered mush­rooms.

If you’re look­ing to linger longer over lunch, there’s some de­li­cious ‘lunchy things’ like the crispy skin bar­ra­mundi, or for some­thing meatier the wagyu beef burger with kew­pie may­on­naise. The drinks menu is equally im­pres­sive with a great range of smooth­ies, milk­shakes and fresh juices. If you’re nurs­ing a hang­over you’lll be well looked af­ter with a glass of Be­rocca, or, even bet­ter their Bloody Mary which comes with a shot of or­ganic cu­cum­ber vodka. Cof­fee is from All Press. My flat white was top-notch, full-bod­ied with great cof­fee art.

The toasted ba­nana bread de­serves all the hype it re­ceives. The pic­ture per­fect stack of ba­nana bread rests in a shal­low bath of sweet berry com­pote, which is punc­tu­ated by pops of fresh blue­ber­ries. Sand­wiched with a gen­er­ous layer of maple syrup mas­car­pone, fresh ba­nana and berries the dish lit­er­ally bursts with flavour on ev­ery mouth­ful.

The smashed avo­cado is another crowd favourite, served with but­tery thyme mush­rooms, mar­i­nated feta and torn basil, on toasted grain toast.

A de­li­cious bowl of bircher muesl is per­fectly pre­sented, served with rhubarb, craisins and diced ap­ple. It is strangely sim­i­lar to my favourite muesli I make at home with the ad­di­tion of honey yo­ghurt and pis­ta­chio and vanilla com­pote to pack a fur­ther flavour punch.

The eggs bene­dict is not your av­er­age ‘benny’. Two per­fectly poached eggs are paired with smoked ham hock ter­rine, baby herbs and an ap­ple cider hol­landaise sauce – a great ac­com­pa­ni­ment to cut through the rich­ness of the hock.

Friends of Mine, you will def­i­nitely be a friend of mine in years to come.

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