A few weekends back we caught up with our friend Heather at Pearl Oyster in Thornbury or Preston (the location changes depending on who you read). We met at 12pm thinking we'd get seats in the quiet period between the brunch and lunch crowds. The place was heaving. By the time we had finished lunch it had quietened down so our timing was all out. Overall, we enjoyed the food and the ambience once we overcame a few initial seating problems.
The place was so busy when arrived that we had to wait for a seat and finally were given a few seats at a communal table. The seats were fixed in place. Not easy when we were trying to arrange ourselves around Sylvia's highchair. One guy begrudgingly moved for us but when we saw a group leave a four seat table we moved there. It was much easier to move the (vinyl swivel) chairs to accommodate Sylvia's highchair. And as you can see above, she loved the paper and coloured pencils provided.
Next came the challenge of ordering food. After seeing some positive vegan reviews, I had hoped for a tofu scramble that Michael and Lisa enjoyed. But there was none on the specials. However, I did like the sound of the zucchini, cherry boccocini and chilli jam pizza. It was a nice pizza but far far too much spicy chilli jam for me. I was impressed that the waitress was happy to take on board my feedback when I mentioned this to them.
These days I am less of a challenge to order for than Sylvia. We chose some very good fruit toast for her and she ate some of it when she could be distracted from drawing. E also ordered a herb omelette with ham, thinking that she might have a taste of the omelette but Sylvia was not interested in it. Not that E was bothered. He loved it and was happy to eat it all himself.
When it came to ordering brunch, Heather was the one who really got it right. She ordered French toast with pears poached in rose tea, marscapone and pistachio dust. I am not much of a fan of French toast but I did taste it and found it an excellent marriage of inspired flavours and textures.
I partly chose the place because it was listed as child-friendly on the Hey Bambini website. I am getting fussier with the places we go because if Sylvia is happy we can all relax. Pearl Oyster might have space for prams if it wasn't full of people waiting for a seat. They provided a box of toys, the roll of butchers paper and coloured pencils as well as funky old retro highchairs. If I was to quibble I would suggest that it would be better not to keep the pencils in a glass jar and I wished that the highchairs had straps but these are small details that did not impinge on our enjoyment. (I suspect no highchairs had straps when our foremothers used them.)
But the ambience of the cafe is lovely with lots of nice touches. The furniture was a collection of retro furniture. Menus came bound in old book covers and there were lots of interesting old books opposite the counter. We would have loved a seat in the leafy court yard if it hadn't been full. The music was cool, the staff were friendly and there was a great display of cake that I would have loved to try if I had not been too full.
114 Millar Street
03 9480 2500