Hawthorn has a rich selection cafes, many of which are Melbourne’s best. This includes Porgie + Mrs Jones, Axil Roasters, Liar Liar, and several others I’ve tried, which all have their own distinctive personality. Yet I find the dynamic between Hawthorn, and its close neighbour Richmond (where I live and work), to be very different.
It could just be me. I’ve been a repeat visitor to many of these cafes but have never become a regular. It could be the fact that my compass leads me towards the city rather than further East, even though I’m happy to travel a long way for a good breakfast. Either way I am often more comfortable in Richmond.
Crabapple Kitchen may be in a similar vein, though there is a dish on this menu that I can’t get out of my mind. The “Crabapple Slider” featuring spanner crab in brioche along with Granny Smith apple, breakfast radish, and mustard cress, is a wonderful dish. The delicate crab works in complete harmony with the buttery richness of the brioche. The julienned Granny Smith apple, mustard cress, and breakfast radish, are excellent accompaniments, with mayonnaise bringing it all together.
The cafe itself, on a busy part of Glenferrie Road near the train station, is playful and charming. The floorstaff wear bluetooth ear pieces which I’m not sure about, as it is a little disconcerting when you realise they are being spoken at, while also speaking to you. Other than when they are interrupted mid-sentence they are polite and friendly.
The great thing about this cafe is the outdoors area out the back. There is plenty of seating and the heaters are on, but it would be even better if it was a warm sunny day. Although a little chilly today, everyone is in good spirits as you would expect at Friday lunch.
Crabapple Kitchen is a fantastic venue with really interesting breakfast and lunch dishes not to mention a great drinks list that is particularly important for Friday lunch!
Not having been able to get the Crabapple sliders out of my head, we were back for another lunch. This time I settled on just one and shared the spiced duck meatballs too.
The balls came on a bed of smashed butterbean, plenty of mashed avocado and some goat’s feta. The balls themselves were delicious, though naturally losing some of their gaminess by being minced and spiced. The chilli topping the balls was just the right heat and the other accompaniments worked well. Julie asked for some sourdough to help mop up the butterbean concoction and it was a stroke of genius. I proceeded to make mine an open sandwich and I suggest others do the same!
There was a good amount of energy in the cafe again and it was full for Friday. The wine list is quite diverse and we all chose different glasses. To finish we all shared the brownie. There are several additions to the dish to make it a modern gourmet dessert, but the star is the brownie which is rich and gooey. It definitely would be a tough ask for one person.
Another good experience and my need for crab and apple in a slider is a little duller (but surely will come back again quite soon).