44 Rowena Parade
Ph: 03 9421 3262
When I think of those tiny little cafes and restaurants one sometimes discovers in Melbourne's many laneways, those hidden gems treasured by locals, I think of places with happy staff, fabulous food, consistently good coffee. I knew that to some Melbourne foodies, Rowena Parade was one such gem, so when I stumbled across it by accident I was expecting a unique, memorable breakfast experience.
First impressions were good. On a warm morning, the windows were wide open, and tables of what seemed like regular customers almost filled the room. The "cafe/milkbar/continental deli" has a Greek theme, with a huge picture of Santorini on one wall; above the counter, a big sign reads "Mamma's takeaway", and cute little messages are found all over the room (above the counter, a blackboard reminding patrons that "For every minute you're angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness"; beneath a bell, a stern warning to "Under no circumstances ring this bell").
We found a good selection of basic breakfast and lunch dishes on the menu and specials board, with a few traditional Greek dishes featured.
Kaski, from Neveska in Northern Greece: Roasted red peppers, cooked in tomato reduction, with fresh ricotta, fetta cheese and a hint of chili, served with organic Turkish toast ($8.50)
I considered a BELTAC (bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese - Rowena Parade's super take on the BLT) but decided I was having an "It's-too-early-for-eggs" morning so instead, my little ramekin of tomato and chili was an excellent start to the day. Yes, the presentation could have been better - the dish was a bit of a mess. But it was creamy and rich with a subtle kick of chili and went well with the Turkish bread.
Two free range eggs on Turkish toast ($7.00) with mushrooms, tomato, avocado ($2.50 each) and bacon ($3.00)
A simple big breakfast, and what a disappointment. Bf, a man who has no chef training and cooks beautiful creamy scrambled eggs at home, is constantly amazed at how often kitchens ruin breakfast. The eggs he was served were a dry, bland, solid lump. The sides consisted of a flavourless half tomato, extremely crisp (in fact, black) bacon (which was cooked to bf's liking - we both like our bacon very crispy - but we both agreed the kitchen was taking a risk here), the tiniest portion of an average tasting avocado, and some mushrooms which were the only decent thing about the meal. He was also served a warm strawberry milkshake.