30th August 2017
727 Glenferrie Road
Hawthorn, VIC 3122
Remember how my mum has neither had nor cared about brunch for the first 50-odd years of her life? Well after her inaugural brunch, she is now smitten with the weekend ritual (like all true Melbournians), and has been hassling me to take her out again. Unfortunately, I had shot myself in the foot last time by taking her to Mr Hendricks, which turned out to be one of the best brunches I’ve ever had, and now I’m desperately trying to find a place that won’t shatter her brunching dreams without crossing town.
I had walked past Le Clec a few months back, and noted idly that it stood where Once A Tailor once stood (once). But aside from noticing the charming decor accented with Tiffany-blue, I didn’t give the cafe much thought. As it turns out, not only is Le Clec way bigger than a quick glance through the window might suggest – it extends into a sophisticated dining room before opening out into a lush courtyard full of light and greenery – the menu also looks tantalising to boot! Could this be my parents’ next brunch destination?
The food at Le Clec leans towards Asian Fusion, which is old news by now. Fortunately, the chefs here have taken more liberties with their creations, which means that instead of the same-old Hong Kong egg waffles, you’ll find yourself chowing down on kimchi omelettes and gochu-glazed beef shortrib!
Coffee here is good, and my Skinny Flat White ($3.9) was smooth with fresh berry notes. But it was the Heart Beet ($6) juice that really shone. Veggie juices are not usually my thing, but this combination of beetroot, citrus, and carrot was surprisingly delicious. The sharp citrus was mellowed out by the combination of sweet and earthy from the root vegetables, and the result was nourishing without being preachy about it. Thank goodness Chris ordered this, because I never would have done so myself.
I’m going to go ahead and admit once again that I’m a total sucker for Smashed Avocado ($19.5). Mortgage or no, they do a bang-up rendition here, the mountain of creamy avocado augmented with a smoky succotash of corn and charred edamame that gave the dish both nutrition and heft. Topped with a poached egg and handful of sprouts, this meal would be undoubtedly healthy…
… if it weren’t for the slab of salty, squeaky pan-fried haloumi, which still wouldn’t be all that bad, except…
… I couldn’t resist also ordering a side of Thick Cut Bacon ($5). As guilty as I should probably feel, the salty haloumi and smoky, fatty bacon really helped turn this brunch into something weekend-worthy.
But if thick cut bacon makes you feel bad, you should definitely avert your eyes from the Blackberry Buttermilk Hotcake ($17.5). Baked to order, the hotcake comes out of the oven towering and golden like a Greek god, the fluffy, blackberry-studded dome sloping down to crispy edges.
And because Le Clec clearly doesn’t believe in doing things by half measures, the enormous hotcake came topped with fresh berries, crushed Oreos, and a scoop of the smoothest, thickest dark chocolate marquise. You also get a generous jar of spiced maple syrup on the side, which were readily soaked up by the pillowy hotcake clouds. The whole dish is ridiculously indulgent, yet between the airiness of the hotcake and the tartness of the fruit, it never feels like too much. If you ask me, this is just as good as the legendary hotcakes at The Kettle Black.
Le Clec looked good on paper, but more importantly, that appeal also translated onto the plate. The food is interesting and inventive, yet it also retains that down-to-earth deliciousness reminiscent of an honest, home-cooked meal. Add that to the friendly staff, and the fact that it’s all but a straight-line drive between here and my house, I think I’ve got the perfect candidate for my parents’ next brunch.
Rating: 15/20 – be honest, do you think anyone would judge if i ordered the bacon with the hotcakes?
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of Le Clec.