727 Glenferrie Rd
Hawthorn, VIC 3122
Hawthorn, VIC 3122
Pastries. Now that I’ve got your attention, I’d like to talk about a delightful long lunch I had at Once A Tailor.
Located on the busy stretch of Glenferrie Road, Once A Tailor is an Italian cafe that’s been open for just over half a year. With the launch of their Autumn menu, I was lucky enough to be cordially invited, along with a handful of bloggers and local media, by the owners Tony and John, to come and try out their new grub.
Upon arriving, we were led through the rustic interior (it’s not every day you see the exposed brick walls complemented by a chandelier made of antlers) to a gorgeous summery courtyard out back. A long communal table made of heavy timber was set up, on which sat bunches of flowers in recycled jam jars. There were branches creeping over the walls, and fat bees buzzing lazily around bunches of dried lavender. It was like something out of a Jane Austen novel.
Once A Tailor was named for John’s father, who was once a, well, I’m sure you can guess. The idea behind Once A Tailor is to bring authentic Sicilian food to Melbourne, explained Tony, but toned down to suit local palates. And our jobs? To sample the new dishes on the menu, and to give our two cents on them. In other words, to be spoilt rotten. Bite sized portions of course, considering that we ended up having 10 courses, complete with drinks. And one last thing – keep in mind that the prices I’m listing here are for the full-sized dishes. Now, let’s begin!
|Corn Fritters with Bacon, Poached Eggs and Cherry Tomato Confit ($15.5)|
Then plan was to start off with the breakfast dishes, then move on to lunch. The first morsel that was fed to us was the Corn Fritters with Bacon, Poached Eggs and Cherry Tomato Confit ($15.5), minus the egg. This was a great example of how corn fritter should be done – light and fluffy with sweet, juicy kernels of corn, garnished with crispy bacon and some good tomato. I imagine it’d be even better drenched in runny egg yolk.
|Quinoa Porridge with Raisins, Pistachio, Apricot, andHoney ($11)|
The fritters were followed by a tiny dish of Quinoa Porridge with Raisins, Pistachio, Apricot, and Honey ($11). For those of you who find oatmeal to be too cloying, quinoa is the perfect alternative. It has a sharper, grainier taste to it compared to oats, making for a porridge that is simultaneously light and hearty. It was served simply with fruit, nuts, and a drizzle of honey.
|Parmesan Encrusted Brioche with Prosciutto, Mesclun and torn Egg ($15.5)|
The Parmesan Encrusted Brioche with Prosciutto, Mesclun and Torn Egg ($15.5) isn’t something you usually find on a brunch menu, but I was so glad it was on this one. I found that the buttery and subtly sweet flavours of the brioche really went well with the salty prosciutto, and the single leaf of purple lettuce on top provided the mild bitterness to balance it all out. I couldn’t really taste the parmesan but this was still an excellent option for an indulgent brunch.
|Zucchini Flower Fritter with Poached Eggs and topped with Salsa Verde ($17.5)|
The Zucchini Flower Fritter with Poached Eggs and topped with Salsa Verde ($17.5) was something of a surprise. I kept imagining a dense and unappetising zucchini slice but what came out were fluffy little pancakes, studded with tender chunks of zucchini flower, topped with the most intensely fresh and herbal salsa I’ve ever had. It was incredibly flavoursome and utterly unexpected.
|Beetroot Carpaccio with Poached Rosemary Infused Chicken Rocket, Perisan Getta, and Honey Mustard Dressing ($16.5)|
At this point we made the transition into lunch, with the Beetroot Carpaccio with Poached Rosemary Infused Chicken Rocket, Persian Fetta, and Honey Mustard Dressing ($16.5). I was once again expecting to screw my nose up at this dish, but was once again proved wrong. When I think beetroot, I think thick slices still dripping from the tin, slowly bleeding into a rapidly disintegrating burger bun (camp was traumatic). Yet what was in front of me couldn’t be further from that horrific image. The fresh beetroot was lightly pickled overnight in balsamic, before being shaven into translucent slices that held a little bit of crunch, and a whole lot of tang. It was a flavour sensation when combined with creamy rosemary chicken, peppery rocket, and a dressing I wanted to lick off the plate.
At this point tony came out twirling wine glasses in his hands, and with hardly any persuasion, we all ended up with a full glass of Pinot Gris in front of us. This was a lovely drop, pink-gold in colour, light and citrusy in flavour. It was all but chugged down by everyone around the table.
|House-Made Olive Focaccia|
|Beef and Pork Meatballs in Napoli Sauce ($18.5)|
I was excited when platters of House-Made Olive Focaccia were placed along the table. I was even more excited when I saw the dish that the focaccia was served with – Beef and Pork Meatballs in Napoli Sauce ($18.5). Meatballs are so simple, but I find that they’re not done quite right a lot of the time. Hence, I really enjoyed this one, piping hot and flavoursome in the rich Napoli sauce, which we mopped up with excessive amounts of the good bread.
|Baked Figs filled with Goats Cheese, Wrapped in Prosciutto on Sourdough drizzled in a Balsamic Glaze ($18.5)|
The Baked Figs filled with Goats Cheese, Wrapped in Prosciutto on Sourdough drizzled in a Balsamic Glaze ($18.5) was the most delightful little parcel. The baked fig was sweet and plump, stuffed with a mild goats cheese and tied up with a ribbon of prosciutto, crisp and salty from the oven. The entire table fell into a silence over this dish, occasionally punctuated with murmurs of appreciation.
|Quinoa salad with Pomegranate, Red Radish, Avocado,Coriander and Lemon Dressing ($15.5)|
The Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate, Red Radish, Avocado, Coriander and Lemon Dressing ($15.5) was a nice little palate cleanser before the last of the savouries. It was a tart and refreshing little thing, punctuated with crisp, bitter radish, buttery avocado, and the sweet pop of pomegranate.
|Scotch Fillet Steak Sandwich with Cider and Balsamic Cured Beetroot, Mint Yoghurt, Caramelised Onion and Rocket on Toasted Turkish Bread ($17.5)|
Finally, the Pièce de résistance – the Scotch Fillet Steak Sandwich with Cider and Balsamic Cured Beetroot, Mint Yoghurt, Caramelised Onion and Rocket on Toasted Turkish Bread ($17.5). Even before I tasted this I knew it was a recipe for success – thick, juicy scotch fillet (a little past medium rare but still good), sweet onions and beetroot, and a cool mint yoghurt. I’ve always thought tzatziki is something that goes with lamb but turns out it’s also beautiful with a juicy piece of steak.
|Small Skinny Flat White ($3.5)|
We were all pretty full by this point but none of us declined coffee/tee in a bid to wake ourselves up after the long lunch and good wine. I asked for a Small Skinny Flat White ($3.5), which was made in the true Italian style – heavily roasted, guttural and rich. It’s very different to what most cafes around Melbourne prefer to serve – greener, sweeter blends – and it’s not what I usually like to drink but hey, when in Italy.
But when the Cassateddis ($2ea) were brought out, I realised the merits of strong, dark coffee. The rich bitterness of the brew was the perfect partner for the deep fried crescent pastries, stuffed with fluffy cinnamon ricotta and dusted in icing sugar. It tasted like a donut, but ten times better – fluffier, lighter, and crispier. It was a brilliant ending to our meal, and Tony was even nice enough to pop a few in a bag for me to take home for my sister, who adored them.
Once A Tailor is a fabulous addition to the bustle of Glenferrie Road, with a focus on excellent produce, and simple but good food. It’s a comfortable place, just as good for a family get-together as it is for a solitary meal. Tony also made it very clear that he’s big on service – he wants everyone to feel welcome the moment they step through the door. Come to Once A Tailor if you’re keen on good, honest food in a relaxed environment, and Italian coffee that’ll keep you awake until 2am.
Rating: 14.5/20 – beetroot carpaccio <3
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of Once A Tailor