My favourite meal to eat out is brunch. Toasted granola muesli, fluffy ricotta hotcakes, silky poached eggs or a big breakfast with the works, washed down with a fresh juice and a strong black coffee - nothing sets you up better for the day. It's a relaxed way to start a weekend, whether you and your partner eat in silence, pouring over different sections of the newspaper, or you're meeting with the girls for a chatty catch-up.
We're blessed in Melbourne with an abundance of cafes, bars and restaurants and many of them do good brunch. You could eat at a different place every day and just scratch the surface. And there always seems to be a new place opening up that goes onto my "must try" list.
Although I love trying new places, there's always a spot for old favourites, a place where you end up always ordering the same dish just because you love it so much. Cafe Sweethearts in South Melbourne is such a place for me. It's an institution that is best known for its 18 different egg dishes, ranging from the traditional such as eggs benedict and eggs florentine to less traditional dishes involving eggs with avocado, beans or chorizo, with names such as Mexican, Italian and Forestiere.
My personal comfort-food dish at Cafe Sweethearts is Eggs Forestiere. Two poached eggs are served on toasted English muffins, accompanied by rashers of bacon and a generous scattering of button mushrooms, all topped with a silky hollandaise sauce. It is a divine dish. On this visit, the bacon was done in my favourite way, super-crispy with curly, charred edges, providing a nice counter-point to the runny egg yolks and soft mushrooms. Adam ate the Eggs Mexican, which featured two perfect poached eggs on top of toasted English muffins, accompanied by red kidney beans and chunks of avocado. It was a fresh-looking - and tasting - dish.
We're both full to bursting after we finish but we manage to squeeze in coffee - a smooth long black for your caffeine-addicted writer and a satiny cafe latte for Adam. The service is swift and cheery (even on bustling weekends) and we leave, well and truly fortified for the day ahead.
If eggs aren't your thing, Cafe Sweethearts has plenty of other offerings to tempt you: muesli, organic porridge, pancakes (the lumberjack is served with eggs and bacon, while sweet-tooths can choose between blueberry and chocolate), rye bread with preserves, smoked kippers, and Persian fetta and rocket fritters (I was sorely tempted to give these a whirl - perhaps next time I might make myself try something new!)
Cafe Sweethearts is a small venue, with perhaps a dozen tables catering for group sizes varying from two to six, but it appears bigger as light floods into the cream-coloured interior through two large windows looking out onto Coventry St and the side lane. Don't even think about coming here on weekends without a booking, as you're likely to go away disappointed. If you can come here on a weekday, you'll have a much more relaxed atmosphere and can probably take your pick of the tables. It's also right near the South Melbourne Market, so bring along your trolley or basket and grab some fresh produce bargains while you're there.
263 Coventry St, South Melbourne
Monday - Friday 7am - 3pm
Sat and Sun 8am - 3pm