The perfect breakfast dish is a thing of beauty. Before noon a just-right poached egg is like a beacon of light and reassurance, just as biting into a crispy piece of fried brioche becomes an almost religious experience. Alone, these standout dishes gain momentum on food blogs and get a mention in 'Melbourne’s Best Breakfasts' lists, but it's rare for a cafe to have a whole menu of pre-midday dishes each worthy of a return visit.
Reading the breakfast menu at Arcadia, each item is as good as the last. It's a can't choose situation. As you make your way down the 15+ menu items, you realise you're going to have to make a choice glazed with uncertainty. Working with Melburnian favourites as the base for dishes before adding a genius component, they've got their customer base catered for. The Middle Eastern poached eggs on rye with red pepper pesto, spinach and hazelnut dukkah ($17.50) is definitely worthy of the shortlist, as is the smashed avocado with feta, slow cooked balsamic tomatoes and preserved lemon salsa ($15). For something sweeter, the 'Goodness Bircher' ($12.50) is packed with seeds and topped with maple pears and the twice-baked brioche French toast is a masterpiece in itself ($16.50). Before you've even ordered you know you'll be coming back.
Having been around since before Gertrude Street was even a thing, Arcadia remains a go-to fixture of Fitzroy’s cafescene. Even with bigger, better and more modern venues popping up around them, their dependable breakfasts, fresh lunches and Campos coffee is common knowledge to both locals and those not situated in the inner north and has kept them as a popular weekend destination. The simple layout is supplemented with a food display and small courtyard, as well as a window table looking out onto one of the more interesting streets in the city.
As well as their all-day breakfast, as midday approaches the food cabinet is stocked with a culinary rainbow of hunger-inducing offerings. The options change daily (and are posted on their Facebook page each morning) and, as well as salads, can include anything from lasagne, curry, zucchini fritters, a baguette or a burrito. Also made daily are the sweet and savoury muffins that sit smugly next to the coffee machine, as well as cakes, slices and a mammoth brownie that is way too big for even the biggest chocolate fiend to single-handedly devour.
At a place like Arcadia, where breakfast reigns supreme, it's hard to do any wrong. With a coffee and a seat at the window, you can have your eggs and eat your cake afterwards too.