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Following my 14km run for Sunday’s City2sea event (just over 3 weeks ago), my legs possessed enough strength to carry me to the Mart130 restaurant in Middle Park for brunch with the lovelies. Among the first to arrive before anyone else was Susper, who promptly sent a message to all: “it’s IN the tram stop people!” The message had me scratching my head and EVEN with her warning, I encountered a little difficulty in working out where the actual restaurant was located.
To the unsuspecting eye, stop 130 on the 96 tram/light rail headed towards St Kilda looks like any ol’ tram stop. But for those who take a closer look or anyone who knows where to look, the converted tram stop actually houses a charming and adorable cafe. On another note, the name ‘Mart130’ is a play on their location: Mart = tram spelt backwards (wow!) and 130… any guesses?
Retaining the outer station’s design and most, if not all of the interior’s original features, the cafe exudes a historic and cosy feel. It was almost as though we were dining in someone’s country home. Adding to the comfiness was the close seating arrangement, which equated to a wait for a table. Fortunately the next available table was located outside at the back veranda; given the clear skies and sunshine on that particular Sunday (not so great whilst running btw!), we were thrilled with our spot.
Adding to the homey vibe were the baskets of flowers located around the tables.
While the coffee drinkers in the group ordered some coffees, I opted for the mango juice. The juice was quite thick, smooth and very much like drinking liquified mango.
Croque Madame Provencal - with grilled Gruyere cheese, on toast and mustard, ham, béchamel, topped with poached eggs and spicy tomato sauce (part of their Specials).
My jaw almost dropped after my eyes feasted on the glorious sight of this sandwich. Which would have resulted in an outpour of saliva I’m sure… This was essentially a super gourmet version of the humble cheese and ham toastie. Crisp toast. The melted Gruyere cheese paired well with the béchamel sauce in both texture and taste. The strong flavours from the spicy + herbed tomato sauce added a flavour boost to the sandwich and the poached egg helped to add some balance to the strong flavours from the sauce and ham. The edges of the bread were too burnt to eat but given the humungous size, I didn’t get to it anyway.
Housemade baked cannellini beans with mushrooms, pesto sourdough and crumbled feta *non-vegetarian option with ham hock.
Crunchy granola, topped with fresh fruits (or poached).
Virtually the complete opposite to the Croque Madame, Pamoola’s granola dish was very light and super crunchy. The addition of fruits further enhanced freshness and healthiness of the dish.
Baked braise of chorizo, red capsicum, smoked paprika, tomatoes, Queso Garrotxa, topped with poached eggs.
Great chorizo: it possessed the right amount of peppery spice to sourness to savoury. Drenched in a tomato-based sauce, I thought that there was perhaps not enough bread.
Thyme roasted mushrooms, rosemary polenta, spinach, poached eggs and truffle hollandaise.
Quite a few of us wanted to order the dish as the thyme roasted mushrooms and TRUFFLE HOLLANDAISE lured us in like moths to a light (I hate moths but can’t seem to think of a better analogy atm). The polenta scared us away. Themacarondiaries ordered it anyway and after trying a bite, the polenta wasn’t so bad (not as dense as usual) and the mushrooms + truffle hollandaise combination was just as tasty as we had thought.
An assortment of homemade baked goods, which further added to the homeyness.
I did have my eye on the yoyos when we first walked past the front counter on our way to the back veranda but couldn’t fit it in after partaking in their very generously-sized mains. The yoyos are definitely on my to-try list when we next visit.
Without a doubt one of the most charming cafe in all of Melbourne, I was swept off my feet by all aspects of our brunch experience - the interior, friendly staff and the actual food. Either that, or my legs were already dead from the run… Let’s go with the former!
107a Canterbury Road,
Middle Park, Victoria, 3206.
(03) 9690 8831