Magic Mountain Saloon
An eatery and bar spawned from one of Melbourne's best hospo pedigrees.
Magic Mountain Saloon. An otherworldly alliteration with a cowboy twist. Interesting. Hardly surprising that a name like this comes from the team that brought us Cookie, The Toff, Revolver and Boney — all venues with names that both intrigue and totally suit their quirky nature.
Like the other members of its family, Magic Mountain is the lofty result of longtime collaborators, owner Camillo Ippoliti, chef Karen Batson and architect Philip Schemnitz. Three levels of wood, brick and Italian steel — with just a hint of a New York warehouse feel — see the space stand tall on Little Collins Street. It's a fully-fledged bar (open 'til 3am every night), and it's also an all-day eatery, open for lunch, dinner, bar snacks and, most notably, breakfast.
It's the breakfast menu that really sets Magic Mountain apart from its siblings. As in her other venues, Batson's menu blends Thai flavours with a modern Australian palette. The lunch and dinner menu has a range of appetizers, dishes from the wok, salads, wings, ribs and curry pots — as well as a Thai-inspired wood-fired grill menu.
But breakfast is not breakfast as you might expect it. Diners are encouraged to extend their tastes beyond eggs and bacon to a range of fairly substantial Thai options, both sweet and savoury. Enthusiastic staff are quick to demystify the menu. If you are feeling less ambitious there are omelettes, and — as the waitress explained — if you think of the black sticky rice with coconut granola and dried mango granola ($14.50) as porridge and liken the roti bread, almond butter, grilled banana and condensed milk as pancakes, then the choices aren't nearly so confronting.
Coddled egg and chicken ball congee ($14.40) is a very popular and traditionally Thai choice, and the daikon hash brown, morning glory, mushrooms, eggplant and ginger blossom relish ($16.50) is a good-sized vegetarian breakfast — complete with a hint of chilli that leaves you with the feeling of goodness coursing through your veins. For something fresh and a little different, the soy milk, coconut pikelets and papaya, while being pretty much exactly what it says, somehow manages to be a whole lot more. House-made soy bean milk, warmed with palm sugar, infused with pandan leaves and served in a little bottle with a carnival straw is comforting and the perfect accompaniment to the sticky coconut pikelets and tropically fresh papaya.
Quiet and mellow by day, Magic Mountain Saloon is transformed by night into a restaurant, bar and music venue. With so much to offer and something for everyone, why don't you climb the mountain and discover it for yourself.
Images: Letícia Almeida.