315 Doncaster Road
Balwyn North VIC 3104
+61 3 9816 3200
Balwyn North is not usually an area that I’d be rushing to eat at. Sure, it’s only 10 minutes from my house but when we’re talking about a suburb filled with tree-lined streets and pretty houses, but not a lot of places to eat at, it shouldn’t really surprise anyone that I’d rather veer south and eat at Box Hill instead. A late Sunday lunch in Greythorn Village with my parents and sister over the weekend, however, made me think that Balwyn isn’t such a hole when it comes to dining options. Okay, so you’re better off heading further south and going into Balwyn proper for a better variety of places to eat, but if you just so happened to be in the area (like we were), then you may as well stay and duck into Moka Pot.
Established by Nick and Dennis Ahimastos, a father and son duo, the always-bustling cafe has been a favourite with the locals since it opened two years ago. On weekends, it’s normally packed to the rafters with young families, kids on dates and old folk sharing lunch – and Sunday was no exception. The cafe’s row of ready-to-be-heated focaccias and the constant stream of hamburgers coming out of the kitchen made my mouth water, despite the fact that we just finished lunch at a nearby Malaysian restaurant a few doors down. ‘No,’ we told the would-turn-lesbian-for hottie waitress, ‘we’re just here for coffees.’
My sister has hot nails.
I ordered a latte ($3.50) which arrived in no time, despite being extremely busy. With Nick behind the espresso machine and a team of girls deftly moving to and from the kitchen and into the dining room, most people did not have to wait very long for their food. My latte may have been sweet enough, without the need for me to add sugar in, but I felt that it lacked punch and the texture wasn’t as creamy as I would expect a non-skinny latte to be. Okay, but not fantastic. Conversely, my sister thought her skinny latte was “yeah, alright” while the decaf mochas my parents ordered were “nice, but a bit weak.”
The first thing I saw when I walked into Moka Pot was a neat row of macarons ($2.50 each). At first glance, they looked stodgy – like those stale wholesaler rookie ones that suburban coffee shops often like to stock. Pfft, I thought, sif buy those! Then I saw that they had flavours such as ‘lemon basil’ and ‘Redskins’ so I was like, SOLD! In contrast to the rest of my family, I’m not a big sweet tooth. The funny thing is that they all think that macarons are way too sweet, while I love them dearly. Naturally, they all thought that the macarons were too sweet and this time, I had to agree.
The lemon basil one was more Gary Sweet than Liz Lemon, which didn’t win me over. I could, however, taste hints of Basil Fawlty in the ganache so I’ll give them props for effort. Still, toning down the sugar content would have made the lemon basil macaron a LOT better. The Redskin one, however, did fare a bit better. Yes, it was still sweet but it still had that lovely tangy raspberry flavour that I came to know and love as a kid. Ah, memories.
My parents shared a blackberry slice ($4.80). To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a lot from it but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was delicious. The cake was dense, yet moist with the right level of crumbly-ness and not overly sweet. The blackberry filling was tangy and delicious, and went beautifully with the sugar-dusted crunchy almonds. My parents, being the tight arses that they are, did complain about the slice being $4.80 (!!) although I did say that $4.80 was actually pretty reasonable for a slice as nice as this (woohoo, rhyming!).
While I can’t see myself recommending the coffee to any of my coffee-loving friends, I can definitely see myself popping by for breakfast one lazy Sunday morning with my parents or a long, boozy lunch with friends. I’m not sure whether the breakfast/lunch dishes are actually any good (though they DID look good). However, the genuine smiles bestowed to us by all the good-looking waiter/esses, the efficiency in which our coffees and sweets arrived and the general jovial atmosphere of the place makes me understand why this is a local favourite. Now if only someone could set up a shiny neighbourhood cafe like this in Doncaster East (and no, Limelight doesn’t count).