Sour­dough starters reign at the lat­est out­let of this bak­ery cafe where the dishes are gluten-cen­tric and carbs are king

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - RUS­TICA CAN­TEEN: REVIEWED BY MEGAN MILLER

Rus­tica Can­teen comes to Hawthorn.

MEL­BOURNE’S leafy east is the lat­est to en­joy the carb-tas­tic de­lights of the Rus­tica Can­teen em­pire.

Opened in June, the Hawthorn out­let is the third mem­ber of the sour­dough chain that takes in cafes in Rich­mond and the CBD, plus the Fitzroy bak­ery orig­i­nal.

While this 55-seater is a replica of the win­ning for­mula with top-notch loaves, sand­wiches, sal­ads and those fa­mous cronuts, it’s no cookie-cut­ter bak­ery. Pas­tel tiles, mar­ble sur­faces, cus­tom-made vel­vet bench seats and lush green­ery give this out­post a luxe, lo­cal kick – bright and on-trend, with­out try­ing too hard.

Win­ter warm­ers unique to these digs in­clude the baba ghanoush dish. A punchy ver­sion of the smoky spread is ap­plied gen­er­ously to the plate and loaded with soy and lin­seed sour­dough, two poached eggs, roasted tomato and two glo­ri­ous ba­tons of grilled haloumi for a health-giv­ing all-day break­fast.

And then there’s the slow-roasted lamb shoul­der, warm fork-ten­der morsels piled into a sour­dough baguette with red onion and ice­berg let­tuce for crunch and a tart cumin yo­ghurt for an acid kick. Served on an old-school enamel plate (a Rus­tica sig­na­ture) with a side of po­tato salad, this is an­other stand­out of­fer­ing with which to face the day.

The sal­ads are light and lovely (the grilled chicken with pinto beans, corn, jalapenos and co­rian­der is a Mexlover’s fave), while the In­sta-pretty vanilla yo­ghurt panna cotta is beau­ti­fully wob­bly amid gra­nola, fruit and curls of co­conut.

With beans from Rum­ble Cof­fee Roast­ers in the grinders, Rus­tica re­ally is a tour de force among Mel­bourne’s bak­ery-cafes, se­duc­ing the sub­urbs one sour­dough slice at a time.

From top: the bright din­ing space, and baba ghanoush with sour­dough, haloumi and poached eggs.

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