Abbotsford is a little pocket of awesome sometimes and, with the arrival of Admiral Cheng Ho, it just got that little bit better. For those playing at home, Admiral Cheng Ho was an explorer during the Ming Dynasty who, under instruction from the Emperor of China, embarked on naval expeditions where he offered new lands gifts. These gifts were often some of China's finest teas. See the clever connection? While Abbotsford's Admiral doesn't do all that much exploring, he does have some fine teas — and coffee blends, for that matter.
From the people behind Monk Bodhi Dharma in Balaclava — owner Marwin Shaw, to be exact — Admiral Cheng Ho serves up fair-trade teas and single estate coffee with an overwhelming six grinders filled with their own single origin coffee beans. Order what you drink, and they will happily pick the roast for you.
The menu is similar to that found at Monk, with a few of their signature dishes thrown in there amongst the consistent theme of food that is both health and allergy conscious, whilst still being damn tasty. Virtuous and delicious. We're sold. For something vegan, gluten free and raw, try the Cheng's Granola topped with seasonal fruit and house made organic hazelnut milk ($14.50), or the Banoffee Pie, a mix of banana cream, Ethiopian Nekisse coffee mousse served with marinated banana, macadamia nut crumble and raw white chocolate ($14.50). How they make these creations, we are none the wiser, but colour us impressed.
For those who like their breakfasts cooked and hot, the Avoca Ho of avocado tossed with feta, mint and lemon served on sourdough ($15.50) rivals some of Melbourne's best, while The Admiral — zucchini fritters served on sauteed kale, seasonal vegetables, tangy beetroot relish, basil cashew cream and local fennel ($18.50) — is a crowd favourite. The pancakes are also gathering a cult following. The Northside Quinoa Pancakes are served up with candied orange, coffee soil, raw vanilla cream and butterscotch sauce ($18.50). Is it possible to fan girl a dish?
This is a go now and go often situation folks. We're serious.