Since various chains of events had led Brandon to be based in Melbourne and myself, in Sydney, it’s a rare treat we get to share a meal together. In the fast moving Melbourne brunch industry, I’ve missed out on many quality venues that have arrived on the scene, so one Saturday morning, we thought a good “brunch hop” was in order. The art of exploring multiple brunch venues over the same meal. We eventually made 3 stops but this post is only about the first, Nora. It was a quick stop and we only ordered one dish to go with our coffees, but this place left an unexpected impression. I had a wedding to go in the early afternoon (we’re ambitious, that’s how we roll haha) so along with the time pressures, I was hungry which explains the lack of photos. I’ll have to get Brandon to return and fill his memory card with better shots at some point. Back on to Nora.
Nora shot to fame for their dessert tarts using a black, charcoal casing. The owners have now taken the plunge to start their dream cafe.
The first thing that struck me about this place was the interior. Walking in, there was so much space I felt like I was entering an artist’s studio or a display kitchen. They even had a display table showcasing some of the produce currently in season. In a setting that only seats a few tables, it takes up valuable dining real estate, but establishes that Nora is not your regular place to brunch.
The second thing that struck me was the menu.
This is best explained on their website:
In a nutshell, Nora have a seasonable menu and they seem to have a respect for their ingredients. Great. And source produce from a friend’s garden? How adorable.
Then the menus arrived and I was taken aback in the first read through. The dishes on offer seemed very bold, unconventional and asian inspired. Was this the brunch I was looking for? Absolutely not. The menu nearly scared me off, I just wanted something with eggs in it. But we stayed open minded and continued our culinary journey.
The dish we ordered was named “Winter Camp Fire” essentially a five spice, smoked pork hock with cauliflower and shards of crispy skin.
Then it happened. Mouthgasm. The richness of the tender pork fused with the creamy cauliflower and flavourful crunch of the skin. The dish was simple yet impacting. Light but heavy. Brandon even rated it 10 out of 10 which I can’t remember the last dish he rated so.
After the original animosity, the quality, creativity & technique of this dish was so high, I could have easily seen it on the degustation menu of a hatted restaurant and left a satisfied customer. It set up a keen interest to try more dishes, but we had to push on to the next venue.
In the end, the judge’s verdict was unanimous. Hugely unique and inspiring food with an equally unique vision. Taking a look at their small dinner club and the creations of their social media pages (check out the edible oyster shell) confirms one thing. We’ll be coming back for sure.
Nora – 156 Elgin Street, Carlton 3053
Written by Brian (@brhinos)