I've been to a minor place
And I can say I like its face
If I am gone and with no trace
I will be in a minor place
From 'A Minor Place' by Will Oldham
E went through a Will Oldham phase years ago. We even once travelled from Edinburgh to Dublin to see him play. I had seen a groovy little café in Albion Street Brunswick a few times while out on my bike. So when I read Michael and Cindy's review and discovered it was called A Minor Place and had pumpkin cornbread I had to go.
A Minor Place is a little weatherboard shop front that used to be a milk bar. It is situated away from the bustle of Sydney Road and Lygon Street and feels a little bit local, a little bit grungy. Indoors we found people crowded around big communal tables with a few smaller tables scattered about. After a 5 minute wait we were given an outdoor table where we sat on milk crates with little cushions on them.
Milk crates remind me of my student days which I suspect many of the clientele are still living. Our neighbouring tables were full of hip young things discussing their love life, childhood literature or tapping away on their Mac laptops. This is the place to check out the student fashions and the trends you hope will not take off (a brownie guides beret on a grown woman!)
The menu looked promising. E ordered the Mumbler – poached eggs, spinach, rocket, tomato, fetta, dukkah and pesto on sourdough toast. I ordered the pumpkin cornbread with Henry’s beans, spinach tomato relish and (in lieu of eggs) avocado and roasted tomato. The staff were friendly and in no time we had our drinks (latte and oj) and cutlery. Then the wait began.
I’d eaten very little before leaving the house and now was quite peckish. It took an hour between being seated and having our meal brought to us. By the time I ate, I was very very hungry. I am sure there is a law somewhere that decrees the longer the wait, the higher the expectations and the harder it is to feel satisfied. So although I wanted to love this place, I couldn’t help but feel it is a victim of its popularity.
Our food was beautifully presented. My cornbread was a wonderful bright orange colour but a little dry and crumbly. The beans were very colourless and a little bland but rescued by the sprinkling of dukkah. The tomatoes were merely warmed rather than roasted (which is harder to forgive, given how long they had to roast). I enjoyed the meal better when I discovered that the dukkah and relish lifted it beyond ordinary. I did wonder if it would be better with the poached eggs which are usually served with this meal. E thought his Mumbler Breakfast was a great combination of flavours. His eggs were done well and his coffee was good. So perhaps on another day I would feel more favourable towards my food.
As we got in the car to leave, E commented that the place was so hip it hurt. We agreed that if we lived in easy walking distance we would probably go there regularly but it is just a little too far from our place for us to feel compelled to go back. But I am glad I have been and still feel hopeful that some time in the future I might return and have a happier experience. So to finish, here are some enigmatic words from Will Oldham.
Thank you man if for the thought
That all my loving can be bought
Was wisely in your gullet caught
Before my loyalty you sought
From 'A Minor Place' by Will Oldham
Update November 2014: Visited a Minor Place again but during the week and the wait was much more reasonable. The new menu was great and we really enjoyed the almond crusted chickpea burgers and pancake stack with berries, marscapone and pistachia praline. You can see the dishes we ordered at Where's the Beef's review
A Minor Place
103 Albion St
Brunswick 3056 VIC
Phone: (03) 9384 3131