Any brunch addict in Melbourne would be well acquainted with the banana bread at Richmond’s brunch institution Friends of Mine. But what’s the secret to their banana bread which has hordes of hungry brunch lovers coming back for more week after week? I found out on my latest visit to Friends of Mine.
Look for the crowds on this busy corner on the industrial end of Swan Street and you’ll no doubt find Friends of Mine, a beautifully whitewashed building draped with sunflower yellow canopies.
There are plenty of tables and chairs outside to soak up some Vitamin D on a sunny day or to rest your weary legs with your furry friend. But my favourite seats are inside in this beautifully decorated space, strewn with whitewashed and exposed brick walls.
The venue is full of personality and quirky charm. True to its name, much of the décor and furnishings at Friends of Mine, have been sourced from friends and local contacts.
Friends of Mine is cleverly divided into spaces which have a unique personality of their own. There’s the front counter and often crowded takeaway space, which is filled with delectable sweet treats and savoury snacks, and let’s not forget the canary-yellow La Marzocco which churns out countless coffees to caffeine hungry patrons. The light filled front room with school chairs and long window bench is a direct contrast to the dining room which has a more formal vibe with Bentwood chairs, linen draped tables and classy chandeliers.
The menu isn’t one for the indecisive, featuring a mouth-watering array of all-day breakfast and lunch options. Friends of Mine strive to serve mostly organic, free-range and local produce as much as possible.
On the ‘favourite friends’ menu there’s a sumptuous selection of contemporary takes on breakfast classics. Think golden folded eggs with goats cheese on grain, house smoked salmon with sweet corn pikelet and a smashed avocado with thyme buttered mushrooms
If you’re looking to linger longer over lunch, there’s some delicious ‘lunchy things’ like the crispy skin barramundi, or for something meatier the wagyu beef burger with kewpie mayonnaise.
The drinks menu is equally impressive with a great range of smoothies, milkshakes and fresh juices. If you’re nursing a hangover you’lll be well looked after with a glass of Berocca, or, even better their Bloody Mary which comes with a shot of organic cucumber vodka.
Coffee is from All Press. My flat white was top-notch, full-bodied with great coffee art. It was a bit on the milky side; next time I will order a strong one
The toasted banana bread ($14.90) deserves all the hype it receives. The picture perfect stack of banana bread rests in a shallow bath of sweet berry compote, which is punctuated by pops of fresh blueberries. Sandwiched with a generous layer of maple syrup mascarpone, fresh banana and berries the dish literally bursts with flavour on every mouthful. The banana bread itself is lusciously moist; if I was fussy I would have prefered it to be served a touch warmer so it would further soak in the berries and mascarpone. A sprinkling of crunchy pistachios provides the dish with a beautiful textural contrast.
Fellow sweet tooths will also love their delicious pancakes. My personal favourite is the vanilla pancakes paired with caramelised banana, reduced rum sauce and vanilla icecream.
The smashed avocado ($17.90) is another crowd favourite, served with buttery thyme mushrooms, marinated feta and torn basil, on toasted grain toast.
A delicious bowl of bircher muesli ($12.90) is perfectly presented, served with rhubarb, craisins and diced apple. It is strangely similar to my favourite muesli I make at home with the addition of honey yoghurt and pistachio and vanilla compote to pack a further flavour punch.
The eggs benedict ($17.90)is not your average ‘benny’. Two perfectly poached eggs are paired with smoked ham hock terrine, baby herbs and an apple cider hollandaise sauce – a great accompaniment to cut through the richness of the hock.
The Final Verdict…
Friends of Mine – you will definitely be a friend of mine in years to come.
Value for money: 8/10
506 Swan Street
Telephone: (03) 9428 7516
Mon – Sun: 7am – 4pm.