St Ali, south and north, Melbourne

St Ali South I visited in the depths of winter, hunting for a cheese n ham toastie with truffles sourced from madam truffle. It was a dark warehouse conversion with peeling paint hanging off the walls, exposed beams, reused furniture and little nooks and crannies. That’s what I remember, although my photo of the entryway at St Ali South says I’m telling porkies:

St Ali South

I could’ve gotten my “normal” coffee, but hey, I’m in a temple of coffee. So I get the batch brew coffee:

St Ali South - cold drip coffee

This was described as a “like filtered coffee, but through a machine”.

I don’t know if it’s for me. I think I’ve had milky coffee hardwired through my tastebuds. When camping, we normally have filtered coffee, but with a lot of milk added.

With the batch brew, what I really noticed was sour notes, but also that it was refreshing. I actually added sugar – which brought out the sour taste; then in a streak of inspiration – added salt. Well – salted caramel makes caramel taste sweeter and moreish, so why not coffee? It did improve matters.

Perhaps I need to do one of the coffee tasting sessions to work out what I’m looking for in the blackest of black coffees.

After perusing the standard menu, and the specials board I chose the Hazelnut crumbed lambs brains with sauce gribeche, poached egg and water cress ($16.50) – including “Adding shaved truffles for $10”:

St Ali South - special

Of course, I had to add the shaved truffles. You got a lot of truffle for your $10. I wish I had a small jar to take some truffle with me and add to some scrambled eggs! This came with watercress, fried bits of quinoa grain a cornichon pickle, and a side of seedy soy and linseed bread. It was very lemony and a touch on the oily side. That’ll be the sauce gribiche – a mayonaise style cold egg sauce where the eggs remain a chunky part of the sauce. I think I needed one more piece of toast to mop up the remains.

St Ali north is very different to St Ali south:

St Ali North, Melbourne

It is also hidden off the main drag, this time behind a bicycle strip along side a linear bike path/park. You feel as though you are in a garden conservatory, with a children’s playground just next door.

St Ali North interior

Although summer this time, the menu is very different and it seems more focused on breakfast. The menu is printed glossy cardboard that has been well thumbed and falling to bits. I shudder to think about the amount of bugs growing in the fold out.

Eventually, I chose Octopussy Scramble ($18.50), which is chorizo and chive scrambled eggs with balsamic & red wine braised octopus, potato, confit onion & toast:

St Ali North - Octopussy Scramble

What’s that black stuff? I think it’s the charred stuff left in the pan after you fry up a marinated octopus. The yellow bits that I thought were capsicum are the confit onion. If requested, you also get a single serve of pepe saya butter, so cute…. and I only used a little bit of it, so I took the leftovers with me.

But the dish? Unfortunately not for me. The smell when it landed on the table was fish. I enjoyed the small pieces of octopus when I found them in the dish. But there were also little pale pink frankfurter sausages hidden in the dish that I’m pretty sure weren’t not in the dish description.

I guess to make this post complete, that I should try St Ali north-north when it opens, also known as Sensory Lab. Another time.

Next time?
Head South young man, head south.

St Ali North
Street: 815 Nicholson St, Carlton North, VIC 3054

St Ali South
Street: 12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne, VIC 3205



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by OSW on April 24, 2014 at 11:43

    You will need to add your thoughts on their new outpost in Bondi…. North, South or East?!


  2. oh St Ali! you know what i love the most from this place, its the Lamingtons! seriously give it a try, you will not regret it :p

    St Ali is great dont get me wrong but last week, as I wondered through South Melbourne, i found this awesome meatballs restaurant, reasonably priced and after one of those sangas, i was pretty satisfied :p

    Thanks for the review and i’m sorry to hear you couldn’t enjoy the food, was it octopus or anchovies? secret ingredients hidden on the plate, priceless 😉


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