I'm all for hitting the town hard on Friday and Saturday nights, but I'm going to be honest and tell you that I'd much rather wake up fresh faced and early so that I can sink a million lattes in a cafe and not feel like I've wasted the day. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen too often and usually by the time I wake, brunch time is over. Last Sunday however, was the exception and my friend Antonia and I visited Manhattan in Toorak Village for an early morning breakfast. I hadn't been here before but it always looks busy when I drive past on my way to work, so I was kind of keen to check it out.
Without being chaotic or child-ridden, Manhattan on a Sunday morning is a busy place, but we got a table out the front and arrived just before the real breakfast crowd hit around 10am. We kept it simple by ordering smoked salmon bagels (The 'Lox on Bagel') and avocado and goats cheese on toast- pretty classic breakfast dishes. I was pleased to see that they didn't skimp on the salmon and my meal was just as I would have wished, but made better with the accompanying lemon and rocket.
The staff were cheery and upbeat, which is always a winner- even if they brought out our coffee after we'd received our food, which is probably my biggest peeve in a cafe. But the guys serving us were friendly and fun, which is nice during their brisk Sunday morning trade.
All in all, brunch at Manhattan was a pleasant experience. The biggest qualm I have with the place is that the menu wasn't exciting and I didn’t get that nice little feeling of anticipation that I like to get when I order (this probably sounds really sad, but look, I just really love eating). I know that this isn’t the most substantial of issues, and for an area like Toorak, keeping Manhattan’s menu as a conservative one probably works well. However, Manhattan is an upmarket 'eggs and bacon' eatery. They are catering for the 'classic' breakfast experience, which makes it hard if you are vegetarian. Vegans on the other hand- don't even bother, unless you're willing to make some serious adjustments to dishes as almost everything has eggs, cheese or meat in it.
Although I wasn't dissatisfied with my meal at Manhattan, the experience did make me think about eating out for breakfast, and I realised that the more that I go out for breakfast and brunch, the more I've come to expect something a little different to choose from, instead of a dish I could create myself at home.
I do see Melbourne as a town that thrives on ‘food surprises’ and I’ve come to appreciate, and rely on creativity in a menu- especially as vegetarianism and to some degree, veganism are now no longer considered unusual. Now, it's almost a basic requirement now to cater for these eaters in a way that is both filling and interesting, instead of resorting to making substitutes within a classic breakfast fry up. We noticed this particularly here, as I have been avoiding meat since my jaunt to Huxtaburger, and my friend doesn't eat eggs which gave us some serious limitations when trying to make a selection.
But perhaps (actually, there is no doubt) I am spoilt for choice in Melbourne, and if you're looking for a classic breakfast experience I can recommend mornings at Manhattan to you.
448 TOORAK ROAD, TOORAK
Good for: Family breakfasts, coffee and 'the bacon and eggs' experience.
Vegetarians: Should be fine, but you won't find anything super innovative for you. Vegans, don't bother- there are better places to eat.
Wait time: We walked straight in without issue around 9.30.
Food waiting time: Maybe 20 minutes- not bad as the restaurant was filling as we arrived, but our coffees did arrive after our meals.
Cost: I paid $19.50 for a latte and my salmon bagels. My friend paid $18.50 for latte and avocado and goats cheese on grain.