Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cafe review: Treat

Here is a cafe that is aptly named. Imaginative use of quality ingredients and excellent coffee makes Treat a favourite spot with locals, whether it's sharp-suited buyers' advocates and real estate agents, impeccably attired eastern suburban matrons, or designer-dressed bubs with their yummy mummies.

The outlook is pure urban industrial: a jumble of overhead train and tram cables, straggly trees wrapped around a chain wire fence that barricades the train tracks, and trams and cars jostling through the busy intersection of Malvern and Orrong roads.

But inside is elegant and refined, like much of the clientele. This wedge-shaped corner cafe is filled with light through its floor-to-ceiling windows. Designers have made clever use of the difficult triangular block, with a narrow entry widening out into a serene, inviting space that is busy without being crowded. One wall is lined with a dark brown leather banquette scattered with artsy cushions. Other small tables are grouped around the cafe, with the prize spot being a table-for-two overlooking Beattie Ave and bathed in soft sunlight.

This is a favourite spot for ladies who lunch and the menu caters accordingly. Use of excellent and expensive ingredients, such as yellowfin tuna, Atlantic salmon, ocean trout, smoked duck and zucchini flowers, makes Treat a place where you can indulge yourself with a fine meal during daylight hours.

During the warmer months, elegant salads and lighter dishes predominate on the lunch menu. A salad of crispy-skinned ocean trout fillet with kipflers and a delicate lemon caper sauce errs on the small side but is perfectly pitched to its audience.

For anyone not watching their weight or carb intake, there are more robust dishes on offer. Corned beef might be an old-fashioned ingredient not often seen on menus (although, in the post-GFC world, previously unfashionable cuts of meat are enjoying a resurgence), but here it is sexed up into elegant and satisfying comfort food. Three thick slices of warm corned beef and melted cheese is sandwiched with pickles and Dijon mayonnaise between sourdough bread. Testifying to its popularity, it's migrated from a permanent spot on the specials board to a place on the fixed menu. Another option is the satisfyingly large veal schnitzel roll. A crispy schnitzel and gruyere is folded into a roll, with roasted potatoes, braised soft red cabbage and a little bowl of garlicky mayonnaise on the side.

Sweet treats change daily and might feature a moist pistachio cake or a subtle Masala-laced date and rice pudding that is more of a tart than a pudding. Excellent cafe lattes come adorned with latte art.

If you prefer to be out and about earlier in the day, the breakfast menu also looks welcoming. Brioche French toast, salmon and sweetcorn hotcakes, semolina pancakes, toasted breakfast bagels and an egg white omelette are some of the options that should get your day off to a good start.

Treat, 736 Malvern Road, Armadale


sam said...

sounds great! you should try court jester cafe in brunswick. i went there last week. really unique. polish ukrainian food and the place is a gallery filled with local art as well

Melinda said...

Hi Sam - thanks for the tip! I will check it out - sounds like a great place.