Third Wave Cafe
30 Cato St
(03) 9510 2991
Recently, I was invited to try Third Wave Cafe, an American-ish style cafe & restaurant in the back streets of Prahran. Open for breakfast and lunch Mondays & Tuesdays, and dinner the rest of the week, it’s a cute place, small and bright with a modern fitout.
The breakfast menu plays it safe by covering all bases, offering both unusual options like the Cherry Cheese Blintzes ($16.90) or Risotto Hash Browns topped with mushrooms, chorizo, tomato and poached egg with rocket ($19.40), as well as typical options like a rather standard Big Breakfast ($21.90) or a Breakfast Panini ($13.90). It’s an alright menu, sure to keep the general population happy, but is a tad safe by Melbourne standards.
The rest of the menu is.. a little confusing. On the lunch menu is a selection of salads, paninis and burgers, but also available is a scaled down version of the American BBQ section from the Dinner menu, PLUS an additional Paleo menu, PLUS specials… It’s a little disjointed.
The dinner menu is a little more focused, with a definite American leaning. Divided into “Slow Smoked BBQ” (a selection of meats and salmon), sides, or “more”, it’s a little confusing to see the “Paleo” menu there again with “eggs any way”.. I thought this was the dinner menu? But order from the BBQ menu and you’ll be safe.
The beef ribs come recommended to us and like all the BBQ dishes come as either a medium or large serve ($23/$44). They come with 2 sauces (though the menu says 3) served in tiny ramekins that are a bit outdated and are empty after a couple of spoonfuls. The waitress must have encountered this issue before, as she is quick to offer us a refill. The ribs themselves are actually really tasty – melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the sauce has a great balance of sweet and sour.
There are also pork ribs available ($29/$54) which may sound pricy, but these are no ordinary ribs. “We use the most expensive cut of pork ribs available – the belly ribs. This cut is not available from butchers because in Australia this part of the pig is left for pork belly… This allows for a much more juicy finished product. ” says owner, Greg Rips.
Also recommended to us is the lamb shoulder ($22.00/$42.00) which has been flavoured with a blend of herbs and spices. Served with a BBQ sauce and salsa verde (again, where is the 3rd sauce promised on the menu?) the meat comes as thick, grey slices of meat that aren’t all that appealing. But looks can be decieving as the meat is actually beautifully tender and moist. It’s a shame the meat hasn’t been pulled apart instead.
The sides menu is varied, with options like crispy coleslaw ($8.00/$14.00), kipfler potatoes cooked in duck fat ($9.00/$16.00) or Russian salad ($9.00/$16.00). The smoked mac and cheese ($9.00/$16.00) is a great rendition, with a subtle smokiness that matches the BBQ menu. The pancetta peas ($9.00/$16.00) are another great classic, finished with fresh mint making them an excellent accompaniment to the lamb. The Georgian salad – a mix of parsley, coriander, dill, mint and basil with tomato cucumber and red onion – comes recommended, but is coarse and unremarkable.
On the sweets menu, the cherry cheese blintzes and orange French toast from the breakfast menu pop up again. There’s some ordinary additions that dilute the good stuff – pastries and muffins that would be better left off. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find an excellent key lime pie ($13.00) or pecan pie ($13.00) that fit the American theme.
There’s a good selection of beer as well that are an excellent match with the BBQ menu. The Rogue Dead Guy Ale ($11.00) is very drinkable, but if you’re after something special try the Bacon Maple Ale ($35/700ml). It’ll polarise diners but is a great talking point.
There’s a lot to like about Third Wave. The staff are friendly and helpful and the space is cheerful and bright. There’s also something nice about being able to order a salad with my ribs – there’s all the flavour of American food without the guilt. Overall, the food is quite good though a little confused. The American theme is on trend and well executed, but this is diluted by some people-pleaser dishes. It’s also a little on the pricey side. But with a few minor tweaks here and there Third Wave has real potential.