There are certain go-to places where you feel comfortable going back multiple times, and know you have better than good prospects of impressing first timers. Even in the best of café lover repertoires, having more than a couple of handfuls of these venues is unusual.
Shortly we will be moving from one part of Richmond to nearby Cremorne. There is a standout café in Cremorne that is so good it can claim to be part of Richmond. That is Top Paddock. Whether it is a month ago when Catherine felt like pancakes that are out of the ordinary, or taking a guest out before a disappointing AFL Grand Final (for West Coast supporters), it is almost certain that Top Paddock will provide a fantastic experience, once you’ve finished milling around waiting.
The time with Catherine we put our names down and were told the wait would be around thirty minutes, but after a twenty minute walk we were pleasantly surprised that a table was already waiting for us. Next time when we took out my mate Guy it was even sweeter with a table already available.
The food here is simply outstanding. My pork shoulder in a bao bun, whilst being more lunch than breakfast, was beautifully constructed, and technically incredible for a café not specialising in Asian. On the flip side, the breakfast staples that you expect to be great, are executed with flair, whether it be the photogenic nature of the pancake, or the taste of well selected ingredients like Istra bacon that are cooked to my request.
Guy selected a dish I haven’t tried in the “Top Paddock” and even their version of a big breakfast has an artistic nature. In particular the green tomatoes selected from South Australia are both different and flavoursome, and each ingredient looks to be treated with care.
Coffee here is an experience in itself. There is consistency in the coffee, which must be the result of excellent baristas across the board, plus the quality of the coffee available and the Synesso machine. The single origins I’ve tried recently have all been terrific; the coffee last week from Honduras a standout.
While there was a hint of attitude in the beginning, I’ve either stopped noticing, or it has dulled down. The service is attentive and friendly which are key needs at breakfast. For a very busy venue the food is delivered in good time and only once (out of at least ten visits) have we found an issue (the dish being cold).
I’m proud to shortly be living nearby to Top Paddock, and that is not something I’ve said about any other café (as good as some currently nearby are). There is an excellence in the execution of everything a café should be about that is brilliant, and add to this a decent drinks list and lunch options and you have versatility that is still focussed enough to be one of the greats.