Brother Alec, Thornbury

It had become a habit.

“What’s for lunch” he’d say.

“Second breakfast” I’d say.

“Oooh! Where are we going today?” he’d swoon.

After a bit of research, we’d would head beyond the boundary of Bell Street for some Thornbury café action.  This time, it was at Brother Alec.

Another café with white walls, wooden tables and exposed globes hanging from the ceiling.  I was sensing a trend in the neighbourhood.  One thing that was unusual and different about this place was the staff – all men.

One of the guys came over to give us menus and take our order for coffee.  I went with the usual soy latte while Simon got his skinny…

We waited for a noticeable period of time.  The café wasn’t packed with customers and there wasn’t a huge line for take away coffee.  I didn’t understand.  We were reassured that our coffee was on their way.

When it eventually arrived, there was a cute little love heart etched in the foam.  At least they made an effort with aesthetics!  The coffee itself was strong and effective, but not as creamy as expected.

For breakfast, I was torn.  Should I stick to typical eggs on toast with a side or should I get something special?  I asked the guy what his favourite breakfast item was and without hesitation he suggested the Huevos Rancheros.  I was pleased because that was the first thing that caught my eye!

The wait for the food was a lot shorter than for the coffee.  My second breakfast looked stunning!  Homemade black bean chili and scrambled eggs wrapped in a Sahj Bakery pita bread and topped with melted cheese, salsa and sour cream.  Hello… good thanks!

The bean chili was wholesome, well cooked and full of flavour but there was an element missing.  For a Mexican-inspired dish, there was no bang, no burn!  I requested something hot and got a dishlette of fresh chilli, which added the burn but not the right kind.  The chilli needed to be infused in the dish to add richness and flavour.

The salsa was fabulous and fresh, with tomato, avocado, coriander and cumin, while the sour cream gave everything a cool moistness and really topped the dish off.  The pita was interesting… cooked in the bakery just next door, it was light and fluffy but still held together really well.

Simon got the beef sandwich, and while he was relatively happy with it, he felt nostalgia for the Cuban Sandwich from Crunch a few doors down.

After lunch we sat around a little longer and did the Herald Sun trivia – we did a lot better today than most other days.

I’d like to say that I really liked this place but the whole time we were there, I felt that something was amiss.  As we walked back to the car, I spoke to Simon about it and we both felt the same – that there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the place. It just didn’t leave an impression.


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