St Ali

12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne 
Date visited: 29th June 2014

St Ali.  Another one of the most hyped up cafes in Melbourne - been around for a number of years, and on my radar since I started blogging about my food adventures in 2011, but to be honest, I had never had that sense of urgency to visit due to a lot of mixed reviews online.  Anyway, it was another miserable, wet rainy day and AS offered to drive us somewhere for Sunday brunch and we thought why not, today would be as good a time as any.

Not surprisingly, St Ali is tucked away in the very nondescript Yarra Place, another small lane filled with street art and warehouses.  And yet another unmarked doorway, the only hint that this was a buzzing cafe being the number of people loitering outside and the wafting smell of bacon.  We were told there was a 10-15 minute wait for a table for three, and I'm sure we waited longer in the rain.  

We were glad to be called in into the warm sanctum of St Ali.  The interior was very Melbourne cafe - communal tables, dangling plants, overhead lights and oh, don't forget the fairy lights XP

AS and MerlinFan both had Lattes.  It was smooth and nutty.  I was tempted to try the Kenyan coffee that they were offering this month, so I chose their Kamagogo in a Cappuccino.  My first sip and I was hit by the intense acidity that the Kenyan coffee is known for.  This one had notes of red grape and lingering black currant, had a syrupy feel.  I'm not usually a fan of acidic coffees, but once you get over that initial sourness, it was actually quite a pleasant coffee.

AS had The Daddy, which was a breakfast bun with Cumberland sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs and tomato chutney.  This was more like a big hearty breakfast stuffed between two thick slices of toast.

The Daddy $17
I chose their infamous dish, My Mexican Cousin, which was their secret recipe corn fritters with poached eggs, grilled haloumi, tomato salsa, tomato relish and green salad. 

My Mexican Cousin $22.50
Their fritter shell was nicely crunchy, their insides sweet, dense and moist, dotted with kernels of corn.  They sat atop a smear of tomato salsa and a bit of relish, and were topped up with green salad and two thin slices of haloumi.  Sadly enough, my eggs were not perfectly poached - they were gooey, with no runny yolk for me.  Although each component of the dish was nice on its own, I felt there was something lacking.  Perhaps with my eggs being overdone, the whole dish seemed rather dry, like it needed some sauce to tie the elements together.  For the rave reviews and the hefty price of $22.50 for a brunch dish, it was nice but did not blow my socks off.

MerlinFan chose the Smokin' Sanchez.  This was spicy black bean and chorizo stew with pulled pork, poached egg, aged feta and smoked jalapeños.  Oh, and that's shreds of pork crackling sprinkled on top.

Smokin' Sanchez $17
I couldn't believe it when that b**** cut into her egg and asked me to take this photo >:D

Glorious, runny golden yolk.  

Great.  She gets one perfectly poached egg and I get TWO overdone eggs - FML, what kind of sorcery is this.  MerlinFan commented that this dish didn't come out the way she expected from reading the description of a stew with pulled pork.  It looked and tasted reminiscent of a chorizo, black bean and tomato baked eggs dish.  Oddly enough, the menu promised pulled pork but she pulled out a slice of pork belly instead.  Other than that, she thought it was still quite flavoursome with the feta on top.

I think I left St Ali today not surprised by my experience - it didn't stand head and shoulders above other Melbourne cafes and confirmed my suspicion that a lot of it was hype.  Food was decent but not mind-blowing, coffees pleasant enough.  Atmosphere was loud, almost deafening and the staff too busy to smile.  There are way too many cafes in Melbourne to sniff out and explore - I can now say I've been to St Ali South, I think I'll skip the North.

St Ali on Urbanspoon

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