A hip Melbournian eatery for the health-conscious or diet-challenged that still enjoy flavour.
Tucked into a lane surrounded by the big boy commercial companies, the unassuming Elk Eatery has nestled itself adjacent to Scratch Bakers Headquarters. Set up in a roomy industrial space with exposed services, this eatery resonates with the secretive, hidden cafés like Ali’s that roam the hip Melbournian suburbs. With its copper bench and plants embedded in their uneven timber walls, it's Instagram-worthy décor provides a very chilled and relaxing space; perfect for some subtle brunch PDA with your beau or an early breakfast tipple with friends.
White and navy nautical striped t-shirts make for the staff’s uniform – portraying the effortlessly stylish look that is so sought after by many. Starved from the morning’s laborious tasks of a desk job, the Angus Beef Burger ($20) was the obvious, standard go-to. But it’s summer, so it was accompanied by a poached prawn salad ($22) and watermelon, lychee, mint and ginger juice ($8.50) – oh, and also a nut brother's smoothie with peanut butter, chocolate ice-cream, dates, cacao and banana ($8.50). Don't be judgmental of my obese portion size - it's a modest order for two.
It was a day to remember for this gherkin fanatic. The three slices of house pickle on the side of the Angus Beef Burger were sensational – happiness comes from the little things in life, like a slice of the perfect sweet and tangy pickled cucumber. Furthermore, their big fat agria fries were really, really, good. Decent chips are hard to come by these days, but Elk has transformed the craft of hand-cutting potatoes into a refined art. Layered with market tomato, gruyere, mustard and iceberg atop a chubby patty between buttered brioche buns toasted to a deep gold, the burger itself was honest and respectable – the portion size is satisfying but definitely not enough to put you into one of those euphoric food comas.
In fact, the poached prawn salad, I found, was heavier than the burger. Laden with layers and layers of prawns, cucumber, carrot, and kaffir lime on a bed of crispy noodles and coconut mayonnaise, it was no wonder that this salad surpassed the burger’s capability of ensuing guilt. I was surprised at the imbalanced ratio between what was actually "salad" - small cubes of cucumber, and how many juicy marine crustaceans were piled on there. Don’t mistake that for a complaint – it was an unexpected surprise that made my day.
Next time, I’ll be sitting in the exact same corner tucked behind the kitchen; where hopefully I will be showered again by the refreshing miscellaneous “mist” from the other side of the wall. That spot should make do for a romantic brunch of waffles and other traditional coma-inducing brekkie meals with my severely diet-challenged friends.