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A new breakfast offering adds new life to this all-day South Yarra institution.

Doing a lot of different things in hospitality is one thing, but doing them well is another. That's why we've always felt a bit ho-hum about The Botanical. Open from first light until after last, the venue serves as a cafe, bistro, formal dining room, bar, and wine store, and is equal parts post-run pit stop and a place to watch the footy on a Saturday night. The average South Yarra local can keep fed and watered without even having to venture to Chapel Street, such is its beauty and its blemish.

But, let's just back up a second and go back to breakfast. Because that's where The Botanical has gone to totally reinvent their offering. Perhaps in fear of being left way behind top-calibre cafes in the area, they've stepped it up a notch in the pre-midday dining stakes and joined the breakfast club Friday to Sunday with a brand new menu that's well worth talking about. Poached eggs are delicately balanced on top of a thick brick of ham hock and covered in hollandaise for their take on eggs Benedict ($16), and an Asian-influenced crab omelette ($19.50) has a much-welcomed kick to it. Packed full with an incredible amount of chilli, coriander and watercress and sitting in a small pool of dressing (nam jim, maybe?), this dish balances spicy with sweet and is a nice departure from the standard avo on toast (which is also available, FYI).

No one is exempt from trends. Not even The Botanical. And hence, superfoods make an appearance. A lack of understanding of how these ingredients work would prove gimmicky and embarrassing; luckily, they've proven they know what they're doing. The warm chocolate and coconut chia pudding ($15) is super smooth — it's chocolatey without being overly sweet, and avoids that overall slimy texture that has put many a person off chia seeds. It's topped off with gojis, strawberries and rhubarb, and — as far as chia puddings go — this is one of the best I've had. Coffee is a Dukes house blend, and you can even get a date and cacao protein ball to go.

But regulars worry not: The Bot is still just as much about Champagne as it is chia. It's still perfectly acceptable to order a mimosa before 11am, lunch as long and hard as the afternoon on Domain Road, or slip in for an after-dinner espresso martini at the marble bar. This is South Yarra, after all.

The decision to refurb breakfast doesn't exactly signal a reinvention of The Botanical — and why should it? — but it's a welcome change to an offering that can sometimes get a little static. Haven't been inducted into the cult of The Bot yet? Breakfast is a good time to get acquainted. They do it well. Really well.

Published on August 21, 2014 by Lauren Vadnjal

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