Twenty & Six Espresso

594 Queensberry St North Melbourne
Date visited: 21st December 2012

Nothing makes me happier than finding a new gem in Melbourne.  Funnily enough, I came across Twenty & Six Espresso randomly on Google.  I was looking up something utterly unrelated and came across this cafe on a "Best of" Melbourne list.  I can't quite remember what exactly it was now (yes, I know, I suck) but photos of two dishes, which you shall see further down, prompted an immediate visit.

Twenty & Six Espresso is easily accessible by Tram 57 which brings you almost to their doorstep, but since it was such a nice day, MerlinFan and I happily made the 25 minute walk from the CBD for brunch.

The cafe space was quite small but beautifully decorated.  Quirky artwork and crates containing books adorn the wall; a big "tree" in a giant bulb-like bowl added to the look.  There were some tables outside and I believe there's a landscaped courtyard as well, however we were early for lunch and there was plenty of empty seats inside.

Our menus were given to us and coffee orders taken as we were seated.  Drinks and food came in good time and each "swing by" by the waitress was punctuated with a smile.
MerlinFan had the Iced Coffee.  She was disappointed that it didn't come with ice cream and was literally, iced coffee.  Otherwise, ordinary.
Iced coffee - pretty swirl of milk and coffee
I had the Mocha.  It was a lovely mocha, more chocolate than coffee and look at the intricate coffee art.

Close up
We both fell to the temptation of the two tantalising sweet dishes Twenty & Six Espresso had on offer and ordered both to share.  Let me just tell you, both dishes were divine.  

First up was the Organic Balinese black sticky rice.
Organic Balinese black sticky rice with banana, fresh mango, finished with salted coconut cream, palm sugar and passionfruit pulp $15.90
Look at the gorgeous presentation.  A cheek of refreshing, silky smooth mango sat upon an island of black sticky rice, surrounded by a pool of salted coconut cream.  The cream was subtly sweet and leaning toward savoury, with swirls of passionfruit and palm sugar - just a celebration of flavours in your mouth.  Oh yes, and it makes you feel like you're on a tropical island with Rhonda and Ketut.

We also had the Banana, pecan and rum soaked raisin loaf.
Banana, pecan and rum soaked raisin loaf served with maple & walnut creamed ricotta and a housemade berry coulis $16.90  
Istra bacon
Pretty things are worth a second picture

This dish too was inspired.  Really.  MerlinFan and I couldn't quite decide which was the better of the two.  The loaf was like a wonderfully dense and moist banana cake, generously studded with pecans and raisins to the consistency almost of a fruitcake.  The crust of the loaf was toasted and a crisp, crunchy delight.  The sweet berry coulis and creamed ricotta further accentuated the party of flavours in the loaf.  I also ordered our dish with the bacon because 1) I was afraid we would go into sugar overload with two sweet dishes and 2) we love bacon with sweet toast!  We loved this bacon.  It was incredibly salty, sooo tasty and fried to a crisp - usually we try to avoid artery-clogging bacon fat, but this reminded MerlinFan so much of pork crackle that she wolfed down the lot.  I should mention as well, both dishes were perfectly balanced and not sickeningly sweet at all. 

Wasn't going for a funky photo.  Original was wonky.  Just being honest.
Another gem, discovered here in North Melbourne.  Oh well, with Summer truly in full swing, it's the perfect time to take a walk down there and burn some calories on the way.   I hear they do a mean hot chocolate and apparently, The Hunter, one of their savoury dishes has been raved about and is definitely worth a try.  I for one, would love to try it - if I can get over the urge to reorder these two wonders again, of course.  Do yourself a favour and visit now.

Click here for second visit

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