Pancake Village & The Commoner

Pancake Village
Box Hill Central
17 Market Street
Box Hill VIC 3128
No listed phone number
The Commoner
122 Johnston Street
Fitzroy VIC 3065
+61 3 9415 6876

A relaxing Sunday was had by yours truly and her boyfriend-type man. I had tickets to see one of the preview sessions of Shane Warne: The Musical but we weren’t due to rock up at the Athenaeum until 5pm so we decided to run some errands prior to the show. First up, though, brunch time!

After doing the whole church thing and spending 45 mins or so helping out at the church bookstore, we drove to Box Hill to catch the train into town. Problems with Adam’s metcard, however, meant that we missed the train by 30 seconds and had to catch the next one which wasn’t due in another 25 minutes or so. Rather than spend those minutes eating 2 day old dim sims in the smelly and creepy underground platform, we decided to stop by Pancake Village to try those dough stick crepes that Jan had been telling us about on her xanga.

At $4.50 a pop, you get a pancake filled with egg (cooked into the batter as it heats up so that it forms a thin layer over the pancake) and a piece of yauhjagwai  (油炸鬼) which sounds weird enough as it is. But then you also get a dollop of hoison sauce, a sprinkling of pork floss, a pinch of Szechuan preserved cabbage and some spring onions to make the thing look pretty. Weird yes, but strangely enough it works. The lady chopped the pancake into halves so that Adam and I ended up with a serving each (the photo above depicts the half that I got). Not bad at all.

Obviously the pancakes are there for a snack rather than a proper meal. By the time we ended up in the city, we were still quite hungry and so off to Fitzroy we went. Brunch was at The Commoneron Johnston Street (not far from the Brunswick St intersection).

Props for the use of Murray River Salt (pink) and the pretty little bowls they put the condiments in

A cafe that has only been open for just over a year, the shabby chic little joint complete with odd-ball artefacts and a warm vibe has so far proved to be a popular weekend brunch spot for the locals. Given that it was Sunday noon, the service wasn’t as fast as I would’ve liked but because the waiteresses were so nice, I decided to go easy on them, heh.

This was Adam’s dish. A free-range egg was baked in a stew of spiced lamb mince and chickpeas, with a dollop of yoghurt on top ($16). Both Adam and I are suckers for good Middle-Eastern inspired dishes and this one was executed well. In fact, I liked it so much that every last bit of stew was mopped up leaving the bowl completely clean.

I had a sandwich which they called “The Honky” ($15). Two thick slices of white bread (no idea what type of bread it was, but it was neither the predictable-but-always-good ciabatta/sourdough) were loaded with a fried egg, thin slices of panetta and spinach and flavoured with harissa and aioli. Yep, a sandwich which does NOT scream out “fobby” or indeed, Honky – it certainly is a far cry from those pissy spam and egg sandwiches that you get from those Hong Kong cafes. Whatever the story was behind the name of the sandwich, it didn’t matter because the sandwich was yummy and full of flavour. I especially liked that the yolk of the fried egg was still runny. Mmm, gotta love yellow goo.

We ordered a side of polenta chips ($10) that were gently fried to perfection, dusted with rosemary and accompanied by a small bowl of harissa sauce. Now, polenta chips can be easily made at home but I just had a craving for them earlier today so Adam had no say in whether or not to order them, hah. Anyway, the polenta chips were nothing extraordinary but nevertheless, great snacks to munch on while reading the sports section of The Age.

All in all, a fantastic brunch which left us full for the remainder of the day (at least until dinner time anyway and even, then I didn’t eat much). While I felt that the menu wouldn’t hurt from the addition of a few extra offerings, I was happy with the dishes we ordered and would definitely peg this as a regular brunch spot if I lived in the area. While I feel that The Commoner is a more a breakfast/brunch cafe rather than a place to have dinner, I wouldn’t mind checking out the dinner options later down the track. In short, a meal fit for an earl at proletariat prices.

I eat too much.


  1. peach_water
    December 7, 2008

    😀 Im glad you didnt find the dough stick crepe bad! 😀 I think it’s a popular one, coz I see everyone order it!

    Oh those polenta chips looks nice. im hungry now!

  2. GODandShopping
    December 7, 2008

    I have a friend from Korea, he’s been here for seven years and went to Brighton Grammar (name drop to emphasize the point i will make). We went to one of those dingy looking eateries in Chinatown and he ordered sweet and sour pork

  3. David142Perry
    December 7, 2008

    Did the Daryll Cullinan part involve the sledge that he retaliated to Glenn McGrath with? Now that was damn funny as a quick witted response. Although, in light of events since then, it’s a little tasteless now.

  4. nadszybababo0
    December 7, 2008

    oh wow you’ve got a new layout and evrything…. niiice!

    and i wanna watch shane warne!!!!

    the commoner looks like a really nice place to eat.
    the chips thingy looks so good. grrr

  5. jtngu8
    December 7, 2008

    I’m afraid I don’t like cricket or Shane Warne at all so I think I’m going to refrain from seeing this one. I’m still holding out for Wicked tickets, though, which should be fantastic to see.

    I really love the food in Fitzroy although I can’t say I frequent that suburb very much. A friend recently recommended to me ‘The Old Kingdom’ on Smith St for the apparently unbeatable peiking duck. Have you been?

  6. jtngu8
    December 7, 2008

    Oh I’ve just noticed that you wrote an entry on Old Kingdom already! Hehe.

    December 8, 2008

    @peach_water – 

    Haha yeah, there were at least three people in front of me ordering the dough stick crepe. As I’ve said before, it does taste a bit weird but I like it enough to order it again when I feel like a snack. Thanks again for the tip!

    @GODandShopping – 

    Oh dear gawd *buries head in hands*

    Haha actually I shouldn’t laugh… I sometimes order the odd lemon chicken at Supper Inn when I feel like it, shhhhh.

    @David142Perry – 

    The bit with Cullinan involved him sitting on a beanbag talking to a shrink and bitching about Warne. The whole thing was in reference to Cullinan being Warne’s “bunny.”

    @nadszybababo0 – 

    Oooh, if you ever visit Melbourne again, I’ll take you there 😀

    @jtngu8 – 

    Yeah, Shane Warne: The Musical isn’t for everyone but Wicked is one of those shows that seem to please everyone – I haven’t heard anything bad about it from anyone and I reckon it’s worth the admission price.

    I’m not a Fitzroy regular but I do love sussing out the restaurants whenever I have a chance to visit. I also agree that Old Kingdom’s peking duck is worth trying, the second best peking duck I’ve tried apart from Flower Drum’s. Good value for money too!

  8. icesabre
    December 8, 2008

    Hahaha Lib, if you try their BBQ Pork (Cha Siu) Crepe, I don’t think you’ll be able to eat anything afterwards because it’s so filling, plus it comes with tomato pieces and extra lettuce plus Mayo…

  9. fipar20
    December 8, 2008

    LOL, spot-the-asian, that’s a strange game…

  10. I_Luv_Cocacola
    December 9, 2008

    Your sandwich the honky is named after white americans which are described by african americans as honkys. I guess its refering to the type of sandwich that a typical yank would eat.

  11. SNSAZN
    December 10, 2008

    @fipar20 – 

    Haha it’s a game that me and Adam play when we’re at events that are predominantly attended to by white guys :p (eg. cricket matches, Crowded House concerts etc)

    @I_Luv_Cocacola – 

    They ate aoili. pancetta and harissa?! Hmmm

  12. NoMad
    March 9, 2010

    Honky=white man=white bread

  13. […] I had been to The Commoner for brunch before, and thoroughly enjoyed it. So when I got the invite for this dinner on launch night, I knew I had to go. As soon as Matt and I stepped into the cottage-like restaurant, chef and owner, Jo Corrigan, warmly greeted us. She showed us to our seats at the communal table by the window, where we were to dine with two other food-bloggers, including Ashley, and their guests. […]

  14. […] can’t get enough of Jo Corrigan’s mod-British restaurant, The Commoner. Not only do they boast awesome weekend brunches, they’re also running movie themed dinners throughout the year. We attended Poultrygeist, a bird […]

  15. […] can’t get enough of Jo Corrigan’s mod-British restaurant, The Commoner. Not only do they boast awesome weekend brunches, they’re also running movie themed dinners throughout the year. We attended Poultrygeist, a bird […]


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