In Melbourne there are a lot of good brunch places, some might say too many. Come Saturday, we Melbournians love nothing more than to pull on our lycra and dash out the door to meet up with friends at the latest and greatest brunch spot. Well, maybe you don’t don the lycra, but I’m sure you are meeting up with a friend or two who is.
There seems to be a bit of a formula though for the ‘IT’ places to visit: industrial chic fitout + smashed avocado on toast + baristas with beards = success. So when a place decides to do things a bit differently it’s a bit of a gamble, but one that is seemingly paying off for the guys at Kettle Black in South Melbourne.
You won’t find any distress timber or exposed brick here. Instead, the guys at Studio You Me have done a clever job at making the space feel incredibly light and airy, which is just as well given the number of people trying to cram their way to a table. White marble is paired with gold trimmings, blond timber and subtle green embellishments in what could potentially be the next big thing in restaurant fitouts. It feels decadent yet strangely relaxed at the same time.
Of course such a beautiful space should be matched by some equally beautiful food, and Kettle Black delivers in spades. The kingfish with potato crisps, tomato, avocado and purslane leaves ($23.00) artfully demonstrates the chefs’ abilities to build beautiful plates of food. But while it’s an attractive dish, it doesn’t quite deliver so proficiently in terms of taste. It’s a bit ordinary sadly, and the purslane leaves may perhaps be more gimmick than suitable accompaniment.
While this restrained approach may not work for the kingfish, other dishes are more successful, such as the burrata with raw hairloom tomatoes, burnt rainbow chard and vinegar ($17.00). The classic pairing of tomato and mozzarella is lifted by the sharpness of the vinegar with some added texture from the chard. Again though, the purslane leaves make an unnecesary appearance.
I think someone in the kitchen must have shares in purslane as just when you think you can order something that doesn’t contain the tough leaves, they pop up again on the benedict-style eggs with braised pork shoulder and aerated hollandaise ($17.00). Scrape them off and order a side of avocado instead ($5.00) and enjoy scooping the creamy flesh straight from the skin.
It seems like just about everywhere you can find a version of a lobster roll, so it’s nice to see somewhere take advantage of our country’s amazing produce and offer a crayfish version instead ($21.00). In what is already a fan favourite, the Kettle’s version still comes doused in mayo (this time it’s yuzu flavoured), but it’s also got sorrel and lime for some added punch. Don’t even start me on the purslane leaves.
To keep things interesting, there’s a list of changing specials. When we visited, the crayfish burger was being given a run for it’s money by a prawn incarnation with mayo and jalepeno. A very pretty dish of snapper with heirloom vegetables, burnt onion and buffalo ricotta was also on offer.
As if that wasn’t enough reason to trek all the way out to South Melbourne on a Saturday morning, the Kettle also has it’s very own unique blend of coffee from 5 senses, as well as a range of single origin and filtered options sold from a coffee cart by the front door.
It should come as no surprise that there are some big names behind Kettle Black. Owners include Nathan Toleman, Jesse Mctavish, Ben Clark and Diamond Rozakeas from Top Paddock, former Two Birds One Stone manager Tim James, and Sam King (ex De Clieu and Seven Seeds).
With all that experience between them, it’s little wonder Kettle Black is forging a new direction in Melbourne’s congested brunch market. The beautiful surrounding and equally beautiful dishes mean they can get away with charging a little more, and after a busy 4 day working week this is just the place to splurge this long weekend.
The Kettle Black
50 Albert Rd
South Melbourne, VIC 3205
(03) 9088 0721