Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Inconsistent Demitri

Demitri's Feast
141 Swan Street
Richmond 3121
Ph: 03 9428 8659

"We found out that we won Best Breakfast and we ran, and ran, and ran".

When mum and I visited Demitri's Feast on a Thursday morning, we found our waitress's description of her reaction to the award a little strange, but we liked her nonetheless. It had been two days since Epicure had announced that the Cheap Eats 2010 award for Best Breakfast had been given to this graffitied Greek cafe in Swan Street, and we were indeed enjoying our breakfasts.

The clientele was really interesting. There was a table of two business people who, it seems, the waitress suspected them of visiting in order to steal ideas; there was a young man having a working breakfast by himself; and a grandmother and her three year old granddaughter who, after sitting at the table for a few minutes exclaimed, "Where's my coffee!?!" The courtyard is tiny, as is the whole cafe, and it's a really interesting place to (subtly) people-watch.

Poached eggs with ouzo and dill cured salmon and spinach ($15.50)

One of the most amazing serves of salmon I have ever had at a restaurant or cafe; up there with the finest sashimi-grade salmon. It was so fresh, so melt-in-your-mouth, and the dill was the perfect accompaniment. A satisfying, perfectly portioned dish that, unlike many breakfasts, left me feeling full yet light.

Scrambled eggs with goats cheese feta and oregano roasted tomatoes on toast ($13.50)

Normally, I hate scrambled eggs that look like this: folds of egg rather than soft "clouds", however these eggs were creamy and rich and paired so well with the goat's feta - a cheese so much more authentically Greek and creamy than anything I've ever bought from a supermarket or even a deli.

Our waitress, in clearing our plates, knocked over the vibrant blue glass water bottle that sat on our table, smashing it on the ground and our feet. She managed to recover from that quite well. She was apologetic but confident enough to remain positive and make a joke out of the situation, and as the whole courtyard turned to see what had happened in the corner, the young man packed in tight next to us quipped: "It's still the Best Breakfast".

What a difference a weekend can make. I brought Bf to Demitri's on a Saturday morning. Again, we sat outside in the courtyard (note the little chairs made from old feta tins, above), but this time we waited inside by the coffee machine as staff ignored us and failed to even acknowledge that we were there. When we finally made eye contact with one, we were told "I think there's a table out the back, go out there".

To start off with, I was craving a Bloody Mary. When I asked the waitress - the same one who gave such great service to my mum and I on Thursday - if they made them, she barked at me: "No!!"
Alright, I said, fair enough, and she walked off.

A few minutes later, when I decided I wanted an iced coffee, the waitress asked a confusing set of questions about how I wanted my drink prepared. When it came out and I tasted the bitter, almost burnt-tasting coffee I understood why she asked: their iced coffees are prepared in a different way to most cafes and she was concerned that I might not like it. If only she had of actually been clear about her concerns, rather than walking off and saying "Don't worry about it" when I didn't understand.

Fried eggs with free range bacon, lokaniko sausage and oven roasted tomatoes ($16)

This was Bf's dish, and when I told him halfway through his meal that the cafe had won Best Breakfast I think he thought I was joking. His food was just really average, and the presentation was pretty poor.

Omeletta - Greek omelette with lokaniko sausage, potatoes and kefalograviera ($14.50)

My omelette was pretty good - nothing to rave about though. The sausage was quite thick and I think it would have had a more enjoyable texture if it was cut finely.

While we were eating, a young male waiter asked a table to leave the cafe as he had another group waiting to be seated. I understand the importance of table turnover in a busy restaurant - you want to get as many people through as you can. At my work, however, we pre-warn customers of this during busy times - for example, letting customers know that on a packed Friday night, they can only have the table for an hour and a half. If customers know this at the start, they're usually fine with it. If they find out at the end of the meal, when they're relaxing for a moment, letting their food settle, and you're trying to hustle them out the door, it can be an unpleasant end to what might have been an otherwise enjoyable experience.

Bf was absolutely appalled by this place. I left feeling less negative because I had already had a great experience and know what Demitri's are capable of; it's just a shame that the floor really can't cope once it starts to get busy.


  1. It was so great to meet with you at the conference yesterday!!
    People watching is certainly an added 'entertainment' bonus of cafe dining.....

  2. You too Lisa I really enjoyed our chat over dinner!
    Haha yep I love people watching, so fascinating