203 Carlisle Street
Balaclava VIC 3183
Walked out the front door on a Monday morning and realised that you forgot to eat breakfast on your tram ride to the tram stop?
Not to worry, for Las Chicas will save your arse (well, only if you happen to live in the Balaclava area).
Situated literally on the foot of Balaclava railway station, it is the perfect place to grab breakfast. Or brunch. Or lunch. Its vivid graffiti-lined walls tells you that you’ve indeed come to the right spot, yet strangely they seem eerily out of place on a typically dead Saturday morning (we are, after all, in Jewish territory here). Once inside, however, you are treated to warm welcomes and smiles – not an easy feat on a Saturday morning. Then again, if you happen to be running a café that is already half-full at 7:15am on a Saturday morning, well, why wouldn’t you be smiling?
Its name suggests that the menu is tainted with Spanish flavours, however the foods seems to draw inspiration from everywhere. I could only spot a couple of items from the extensive menu that was even remotely Hispanic – the breakfast burrito, an interesting mix of scrambled eggs, rocket, bacon, salsa, guacamole wrapped neatly in a soft tortilla, which is something I’ll order next time. This time, I opted for a dish that seemed like it had the serious case of yellow fever – a shallot omelette topped with enoki mushrooms and sesame spinach ($15). It was served with a ‘Japanese-style- dipping sauce which was nothing more than tamari and vinegar.
Let me just say that the omelette looked bigger in real life than in the photo. I’m telling you, guys, it was like an omelette on ‘roids. I struggled to finish the beast; how many eggs did it take to make the omelette? Your guess is as good as mine. How did it taste? Well, I love eggs, I love mushrooms and I can force myself to like spinach (especially when covered in sesame seeds) so I did enjoy the omelette – not so much the dipping sauce though, which was a bit too sour for me (substituting the vinegar for something sweeter would have made it perfect). I was so full that I didn’t bother eating the slices of buttered toast that went with it, nor did I start to get hungry again until late in the afternoon. Ah, the breakfast of champions.
A passable soy latte provided the caffeine component that was required at such a ghastly hour ($4). It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the best I’ve had either.
No time to sit down for breakfast? Apparently all the items on the menu are available to take-away so you can have breakfast at your desk, or be the envy of your office come morning tea time. While I struggle to see how one would be able to courier a serving of eggs Florentine safely into the office on a train, thankfully items such as brekky loaves make such tasks easier.
I chose a semi-sweet carrot and date brekky loaf which was served with a generous dollop of pistachio ricotta ($7.50 for half a serve, $15 for a full serve) and graciously presented to me in a plastic take-away container. The carrot loaf was, as its name suggested, not too sweet but the sugar quota was met by the sticky sweet dates. The pistachio ricotta had a lovely, creamy texture and gave the bread a much welcomed savoury and nutty boost. The perfect morning tea to go with your crappy Nescafe.
While the shallot omelette is something that I can confidently recreate at home, I reckon I’ll be back again to try some of their other innovative breakie dishes. that burrito being #1 on my list. It’s a place that you’ll happily pretend to forget your breakfast for, and a place that you’ll gladly miss the 7:38am city-bound train for.