Where: Holla, 284 Victoria Street Richmond
What: The option of drunch i.e. a boozy brunch
Bloat score: 2 – The belt had to be completely removed
I visited Victoria Street once for a reason other than Vietnamese or Korean food and regretted it immensely. It was the week Little Big Sugar Salt’s brunch sharing menu was ‘broadshat’ and we ended up waiting an hour to be seated because I am not au fait with Broadsheet’s publishing schedule and was blissfully unaware that a hundred people were trying to dine at the very same place I had chosen as my brunch spot. I vowed never again to buy into the bullshit that is waiting more than 20 minutes to be seated for brunch, particularly on Victoria Street when you can buy a bowl of pho for $10 and/or a banh mi for $5 and they’re both better than anything you’re likely to get served at a café.
Newish Victoria Street café Holla comes close however. The four of us visited on a Sunday and were seated within a minute after arriving – Holla 1, Little Big Sugar Salt 0. It was the perfect place for a sunny but slightly chilly Melbourne summer’s day – the green and light-filled, airy expanses allowed us to enjoy the sunshine without being caught unaware by frosty breezes that are all the rage in Melbourne.
I had virtuous plans of getting my week’s dose of veggies in the form of the poached eggs with broccolini, kale, spinach puree and seeds, but don’t know why I bothered fooling myself – there was a house made potato rosti on the menu and that was what I would be having, especially because it wasn’t available as a side, so was kind of like that time Blur played at Splendour in the Grass but didn’t do any sideshows, so I had to go to Splendour in the Grass.
Astutely noticing that the potato rosti came with ‘Manuka smoked salmon’ i.e. honey i.e. a three-bloat score without even trying, I tried to swap it with the aforementioned virtuous greens, although that wasn’t an option so I ended up with mushrooms, which is fitting for this blog, because mushrooms are just as bad for a FODMAP-intolerant person as honey is. Oh well, as Macy Gray says – I try.
Although not as pretty as the original salmon iteration of the dish, with bursts of pink piercing the row of poached eggs and potato, the mushrooms made for a worthy replacement in a highly enjoyable meal. A well-placed smear of beetroot crème fraiche (another thing I shouldn’t eat) made it look as though my dish was smiling at me, and so I smiled back – at least until the bloat settled in. The crunchy potato rosti was all I could ever want from the likes of my favourite vegetable, while the sweetness of the beetroot offset the richness of the perfectly cooked poached eggs.
I initially thought I wouldn’t be able to blog about this meal because we almost all ordered the same dish, but one of my dining companions eventually went for the heavenly sounding pulled pork shoulder and eggs Benedict atop a sweet potato waffle and apple cider puree. This isn’t on the online menu, but it is on the in-store menu, so don’t fret – it isn’t a never-to-be-seen-again blackboard special. If I didn’t have any intolerances to consider, this is the dish I would have gone for, and my friend said it was every bit as scrumptious as it sounded.
I didn’t scour the menu as much as I should have, and would have been tempted by a bloody Mary if I hadn’t already ordered my almond latte. My friend got a pint of cider to go with her potato rosti, but you can also choose from a selection of cocktails, wine, beer, and to take a leaf out of Grand Trailer Park’s menu, boozy milkshakes.
The menu is an eclectic, occasionally heart-attack inducing one, with the option to add fries to any order, and heartier selections present in the form of a Croque Monsieur (another thing I would order in a heartbeat, were it not for my intolerances that I occasionally follow to some degree) and the house made Angus beef burger.
The only ‘ick’ moment of the brunch was when I went to the bathrooms, and was presented with two options – the men’s toilet, symbolised by a rooster (or you know, the crude other name for a rooster) and the women’s toilet, symbolised by a…cat (or you know, what imbeciles use to refer to a woman’s genitals). It was unnecessarily crass, and as my friend pointed out, roosters connote the male gender, but there’s no way to think of the cat toilet as the female one unless you conjure up asinine slang.
Problematic gender politics aside, Holla was a good find and I intend to visit again because a) I caught sight of those virtuous greens on Instagram and they actually look amazing and b) Holla also does a sharing menu for dinner, which sounds amazing for those rare nights I find myself on Victoria Street without a hankering for either salt and pepper tofu or a bibimbap.
Holla is open from 7am to 4pm everyday and from 6pm to 11pm Wednesday to Saturday.