Moby, whether the name references the great white literary whale or the American DJ from the early nineties known for his veganism and support of animal rights, is making a name for itself down on the corner of High Street, Armadale.
Run by childhood friends Christina Higgins and Stephen Svensen, Moby's collective menu expertise reflects Christina's time working for Yotam Ottolenghi's catering company in London and Stephen's successful dishes from Melbourne cafes Pillar of Salt and Barry. They're doing innovative food with an emphasis on vegetables and grains and a Middle Eastern flourish.
At peak times you might encounter a short wait, but never long enough to make you think about all the other things you could be doing with your day. And the staff are just so darned friendly, you don't mind the interlude. They smile apologetically and tell you it won't be long — and, usually, it isn't. There are a couple of blue-tiled communal tables — one downstairs and one on the mezzanine floor — and a window-hugging ledge if you're not ordering anything too huge. When it's warm, there is even a 'rooftop' deck that beats any wobbly-table sidewalk situation, although they have those too and Moby's tables seemed pretty stable.
And the food? It's good. The menu announces breakfast, more breakfast and lunch, with plenty of options depending on your appetite and time of the day. Crowd favourites from the breakfast section appear to be the smashing pumpkins (pumpkin with whipped avocado on sourdough; $17.50) or the braised wild mushroom omelette, Frenchified just a little by Comté cheese and truffle roasted hazelnuts ($18.50). Assail the senses with the citrus-cured ocean trout; light and delicate, the trout is offset by the potato and leek croquettes and poached egg and the swathe of bright pink beetroot labne is a well-executed Ottolenghian flourish. Every element of this dish is eye-closingly delicious and together they buzz with flavour harmony.
One of the only real complaints about Moby is the tempura prawn dish. It's a nice idea — crispy tempura prawns, yuzu mayo, shaved iceberg and mini milk buns — but three prawns (that's one per bun) do not a preponderance make. The prawns themselves are fine, but the abundance of bread, as nice as it may be, make the dish less than a standout and for $21. The southern fried chicken sub might be more satisfying.
Judging by the crowds, the neighbourhood is glad to have Moby, and the ocean trout and the upper deck alone make it worth a visit.