Beaufort Street Merchant is a stalwart of the Highgate/Mount Lawley region, consistently busy with friends meeting for everything from early morning coffee catch up’s to a few cheeky late night drinks and everything in between. Well thought out dishes with quality ingredients are practically a guarantee, so when my housemates announced late on a Friday night they were going to drop by for breakfast the next morning, I jumped on that bandwagon pretty damn quickly.
On the drive over I was mentally preparing myself to wait amongst the hordes of people that you often find at breakfast hotspots on the weekend, but luckily for us when we turned up there was no queues to speak of, and even a few spare tables around! A very pleasant surprise, and glancing across the road it looked like everyone had decided Mary Street Bakery was the place to be that morning, as there was a bit of line snaking out of the door there. As we walked in to The Merchant, were greeted by a table full of delectable looking baked goods, and being both hungry and caffeine deprived we just sort of stood and ogled them for a while whilst waiting for someone to seat us.
We had our eyes on the cute little sun-drenched table at the front, but the lady who had greeted us had already decided that we would be sitting down the back, so despite our request for that table we were whisked away into the depths of the restaurant. Possibly that table was reserved, but with a lack of explanation about the situation it got things off to a bit of a prickly start.
Getting over that small hiccup, we soon settled in and turned our attention to more exciting things like the menu – particularly the part with the breakfast cocktails! Alcohol with breakfast can be a fun option and we had reason for breakfast cocktails that day, but I thought I better have a coffee and a bite to eat before getting to into it this early. The waiter sorted us out with some traditional coffees, and the transformation around the entire table as caffeine arrived was quite amazing. The coffee itself was a pleasant brew, very smooth and served at a very drinkable temperature. Suzie did observe that the iced coffee was a little bitter, but was improved by a couple shakes of sugar.
Some of those on the table did get immediately involved with the morning pick-me-ups including this yummy looking bellini with peach, pear and apricot juice ($15). Although a great way to enjoy your breakfast juice, I did look on enviously at the traditional orange juices that got delivered to the table next to us – the looked so bright and fresh!
I had ordered the garlic and thyme sauteed wild mushroom croque on sourdough with double cream brie, bechamel and roast tomato chutney ($18) with bacon on the side ($5). This was an overly decadent given the healthy way I had been eating in January, but I decided if I was going to drink alcohol with breakfast I was just going to break all the rules for a little while.
It was well worth the rule breaking – the bread was incredibly soft on the top, and toasted slowly to a perfect golden crisp on the bottom. The brie and the bechamel were plentiful, and each bite overflowed with cream and mushrooms. The tomato chutney was the perfect accompaniment to cut through all that rich, creamy sauce and stop the dish from being a little bit too much. The bacon probably wasn’t necessary, but can you ever really go wrong with some bacon? It certainly wasn’t unwelcome and provided a salty, textural balance to the croque.
After this I had a dirty white russian – vodka, kaluha, milk and espresso ($16). Ordering this, we asked the waiter whether it was very strong and he advised that as he was only 20, he didn’t know anything about such drinks. Luckily when we asked him how old he thought we were he guessed slightly younger than our actual age, so it wasn’t altogether a too offensive comment. To be fair, he was actually quite funny, and provided quite a lot of entertainment for the morning. The drink turned out to be really nice -slightly sweet and not too powerful.
Two of the girls ordered the merchant green eggs and ham, with leg ham, spinach, poached eggs, hollandaise and toast ($19, option to swap ham for salmon for $3). The hollandaise looked silky, and the yolks spilled out of the eggs in a pleasing display of yolk porn on both dishes. A relatively small sized dish that packed a big punch thanks to the thick leg ham, I didn’t hear any complaints from either end of the table on this one.
Suzie had ordered the other dish that had caught my eye, the smashed peas and avocado, ciabatta, crumbed egg, mint salad and salted ricotta ($16). The crumbed egg was quite a wonder to behold – some sort of sorcery must have been involved to serve up an egg that had been crumbed and fried yet still have a runny yolk similar to the poached eggs above. Aside from the magical egg, the rest of the dish looked fantastic – plenty of micro-greens, avocado and some fresh lemon to squeeze over the top for some extra pizzazz! I have a special place in my heart for dishes with lots of greens.
Our experience at Beaufort Street Merchant lived up to the quality that I have come to expect at this Mount Lawley favourite. The meals were inventive and pulled off well, and service was very prompt (with staff that were fun and just that little bit sassy). The breakfast cocktails were beyond compare (not that I drink a lot of breakfast cocktails to compare to!), and we left feeling very pleased indeed.