Located on Whitehorse Road, Scarvelli Cafe is a cosy place that felt warm and welcoming when I first entered. Busy on a Friday lunch, there are a range of different people enjoying a catch up over food, including groups of parents and couples alike. I was here by invitation to try out their new menu and took Brent along too. I was pleased to see coffee by Industry Beans on show so I ordered a cold brew which has become my coffee of choice of recent. The cold brew came nicely presented on a wooden board with a handful of coffee beans, a shot of soda water to “cleanse the pallet’ and a little notecard explaining about the coffee and the farm it came from. It’s not unusual to receive a little education with your coffee in Melbourne and this is why I love it so much, “coffee develops my learning” is an excuse I like to use often.
It’s pretty standard procedure for me to do my research before heading out for food, so as usual I checked out Scarvelli on Instagram to see which is their most Insta-worthy dish for me to order. Brent and I usually like the sound of the same thing, which means we often share so we can try two different dishes – yippee. Now men don’t usually like sharing so I do have to do some persuading, but as he was my plus one he couldn’t say no 😉
From Instagram I could see that the Dukkah Eggs are the signature dish and I was right, it’s one of the only items from the original menu to stay. The crumbled poached eggs, cauliflower purée, pine-nuts, spiced spinach & pomegranate went together quite brilliantly and a side of seeded bread was perfect for mopping it all up.
We also went for the Torn wood fired smoked salmon with poached egg, salad of crisp polenta gems, avocado, quinoa & cress, charred corn & seaweed mustard salsa which was an excellent choice. I nearly always have smoked salmon and avo’ for brunch, but this dish was different to anything I’ve ever had before with a distinct sweetness from the corn. I couldn’t resist a cheeky side of my favourite, halloumi, which if I’m honest, was a little too salty.
We were impressed by both the presentation and taste of the food, with the portion sizes leaving me satisfied but not uncomfortably full. It’s always nice to end a meal with something sweet so I ordered a Prana soy chai which, like the coffee, you can purchase to take home and make yourself. Brent went for another of his usual, double shot flat white – how very adventurous of him – but luckily they sneakily used the single origin this time, so he could enjoy something new.
He had to make a dash for it so I was left alone but actually quite enjoyed it, so much so, I spent the entire day sat in the corner by the window watching the world go by. Although Scarvelli is wifi-free, I felt so relaxed that I used my hotspot data to work instead of finding somewhere with internet connection. I was lucky enough to meet owner Clare and social media guru Carlos who brought me over three home-made cakes to try.
Rule number one. Never, EVER leave three cakes in front of a food blogger. There was absolutely no way those cakes would ever make it into the take away container I was given! So I spent the day doing what I love; eating cake, drinking coffee and writing about it in a place I’ve come to love. The cakes were ever so fresh, with the carrot cake being my favourite. I thought the berry in the gluten-free berry friand could have been spread out a little more evenly instead of one big blob in the middle but it tasted good none the less.
Scarvelli has a great menu, food and coffee but if I’m honest, so do a lot of places across Melbourne with many being a lot closer to home. So what makes Scarvelli different I hear you ask? I believe it’s the staff; all friendly, attentive and welcoming. They didn’t turn their nose up when I took up a table the whole day, when I asked questions about the menu or when I ordered my umpteenth coffee. I felt wanted, valued and most of all, at home.
The little ‘Happy Birthday” cards offering customers a free brunch on their birthday is a good example of this friendliness. I also like the grow-yourself seeds packaged in cute coffee bags which they sell over the counter to promote home growing. Scarvelli have their own farm in Ballerine Peninsula at Swan Bay where ingredients are sourced from. It’s clear they are passionate about the paddock to plate philosophy which has become ever so popular in both my old home London and new spot Melbourne.
When I said to my friends I was going to a café in Balwyn their reply was “where?”. It’s not often one would venture out this way especially with my rusty old fixie as transport, but after my visit today I certainly would return. Serious Melbourne foodies know that if you want to find great food, coffee, service in a relaxed “I can’t bare to leave” setting, it’s worth heading out to the suburbs to secret gems like Scarvelli. Go check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
Living life, loving Scarvelli,