Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I ♥ P+MJ

Porgie + Mr Jones
291 Auburn Road
Hawthorn 3122
Ph: 03 9882 2955

Synonymous recently moved out Hawthorn way and it had been a while since we'd caught up. Perfect, I thought; I could see my beautiful friend and visit a little cafe I'd been meaning to try for ages - since Matt Preston wrote it up for Epicure in 2008 - at the same time.

Tucked away between dry cleaners and newsagents on Auburn Road, P+MJ consists of three distinct "layers": as you first walk in, the vibe is casual, fast, takeaway. Walk through to the next room and it becomes instantly more grown up, perfect for a cosy dinner (the private dining room upstairs has just been opened and provides an intimate space for 12-18 patrons). S and I kept walking out to the cute little courtyard, a quiet, pebble stone haven.

First impressions of the (quite good looking) staff were good. All young but professional, we were quickly shown to a table, their nature casual but very welcoming. When I faced my usual dilemma (two things on the menu sound particularly fabulous; I will now take half an hour to decide), and after a game of heads or tails failed to help, the waitress provided some very helpful advice.

"What are you choosing between?"

"The salmon or the risotto."

"Are you quite hungry?"

"Yes. Ravenous. Which do you like best?"

"They're both delicious, but the salmon is quite light, whereas the risotto is a large serve."

"Alright", I concluded, "the risotto it is then".

S was having breakfast - I was tempted, especially when I saw some of the P+MJ 'classics' like smashed avocado with thyme buttered mushrooms, marinated feta and torn basil on wholegrain toast, poached 'googie' optional - and I had a feeling this was a place that would do breakfasts well. But this blog could so easily become about nothing but breakfast with how often I crave a meal out in the morning, and that's not the aim, so with ravenous in mind I stuck with the "Lunchy Things" menu.

Risotto of pea and pancetta, herbed marscapone ($19.90)

A bowl of creamy, quite runny rice. The flavour was nice, but it was nothing stunning. The herbed marscapone added a nice kick and would have been better spread throughout the whole dish rather than lumped in the middle. The flavour of the pancetta was good but the little pieces of pork were hard, rather than the thin, melt in your mouth slices I was expecting.

Carman's bircher muesli with pear and cinnamon compote, honeyed yoghurt ($10.90)

S really enjoyed her Bircher; I'm not much of a muesli eater but I had a spoonful and it was creamy with a strong taste of fresh pear.

From a PR point of view, P+MJ are on fire. Their website and business cards are fabulous and continue with the cute theme that's found throughout the restaurant - blackboards on the walls with little messages of optimism, cute quotes on the menu ("...My tongue is smiling", claimed Mr Jones' 5 year old brother). Presentation of the restaurant itself is fabulous and service could not be faulted - the only flaw in the entire experience was my risotto and even that wasn't a 'flaw' as such, just a dish whose flavours were simply 'nice' and whose texture could have been improved.

Given how nice S's breakfast was, maybe breakfast and brunch is more their thing - I will be back to investigate this further.

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