15th June 2015
62 Little Collins St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
My favourite bar in town? That would have to go to either Cookie, Colonel Tan’s, or Boney. And what’s the best drink on their menu? No sodding idea. What I can tell you is that they’re all run by the same group of humans, and not only do they serve alcohol, but they also have a killer food menu to go with their drinks.
The newest addition to the family, Magic Mountain Saloon, sits right next to Boney in a renovated vintage building along Little Collins Street. It spans over two and a half floors (you’ll know what I mean when you see it), with an unexpected loft at the top filled gorgeously with sunlight, and entirely at odds with the all-day-bar vibe of where we sat.
Like both Cookie and Colonel Tan’s (and also The Toff in Town, which I’ve yet to visit). Magic Mountain Saloon serves up their own rendition of modern Thai food harbouring plenty of surprises. But unlike the others, Magic Mountain Saloon is open from morning ‘til night, offering their brunch with a bloody mary on the side.
Now this is what I call breakfast. None of that wimpy toast and cereal business. In fact, there is nothing even resembling the typical Australian breakfast or brunch in sight. They have omelettes, but they’re stuffed with chilli and sardines. There’s porridge, but expect chicken balls and coddled egg. In short, I was thrilled.
Having already had my morning coffee, I decided to get out my rut for a bit and have a mocktail with my brunch. You’d be hard-pressed to find mocktails so tantalising, as most places tend to put the emphasis on alcohol. But at Magic Mountain Saloon, they do away with the lemon and mint in soda water. Instead, I had the gorgeous Trendy Slacks ($6), where the sweet and floral combination of baby coconut juice and chrysanthemum syrup took me back to my childhood. Equally as delicious was the Colachai ($6), where your regular glass of coke is heated up with the addition of chai and cinnamon syrups, making it a soft drink worthy of early morning drinking. Also, those pink swirly straws totally made my day.
My eyes swam with all the options presented before me, but in the end I settled upon the indulgent-sounding Sticky Lamb and Shrimp Rice, Green Apple, Omelette, Coriander, Ginger and Chilli ($16.5). The briny umami in the fluffy rice was delicious, and the omelette came folded in moist, fluffy layers. The green apple salad on the side was very Thai indeed, the sweet, crisp fruit garnished generously with sliced herbs, onions, and chilli.
I was however less taken with the sticky lamb. Though the flavours were spot-on, the lamb pieces shimmering with glaze and topped with a flurry of fried shallots, it was much too dry and tough for my jaws to handle. It was a big shame, as some unctuous, fall-off-the-bone-tender lamb would’ve made this the breakfast of champions.
Meanwhile, I convinced Chris that he could get baked eggs any day, and that this was a golden opportunity to have Chicken and Kaffir Lime Scotched Egg, Pork Ribs and Tamarind ($18.5) instead. This was almost excessive in its indulgence, even for brunch. The batter was a fiery mixture of breadcrumbs, minced chicken, and herbs, fried for a crisp, burnished exterior and a moist centre. Nestled within were perfectly wobbly egg halves, the yolk adding a mellow creaminess to the spice of the chicken.
But why stop there? Piled high on top of the eggs was a tumble of sticky pork ribs, glazed with the uniquely sweet yet sour tamarind sauce. It was everything the lamb in my rice should’ve been; the meat falling off the bone in one satisfying chunk after another, getting more and more flavoursome as I gnawed closer to the bone. Although the sizing of this dish seemed modest at first glance, it is not for the faint of heart, and in the end, the eggs scotched Chris.
Having seen the serving sizes at the table next to us, I gauged that we could fit in dessert in the form of Soy Milk, Coconut Pikelets, and Papaya ($14.5). This dish came as a surprise, in that it was so entirely unsurprising. We were served exactly what it said on the packet – the tiniest, cutest glass bottle of warm soy milk (the actual Asian kind!), a trio of pikelets, and a bowl of ripe papaya.
Those of you who were expecting fluffy pikelets like the kind you get at Coles, prepare to be disappointed. These pikelets were dense, chewy, and freakishly addictive. The crisp shreds of coconut formed a contrast to the glutinous, caramelised sweetness of the batter. It almost felt more like eating flat rice cakes than pikelets. After the last two dishes, it was a relief to be eating something that actually felt wholesome. I was however glad not to have ordered this as a main – it looked like something you’d serve a child before you took them to kindergarten!
Once again, the Cookie-Colonel-Tan’s-Boney-The-Toff-In-Town-and-now-Magic-Mountain-Saloon group (do they have an actual name?) delivered. Not only was the food mouth-watering, but it was also exciting, accompanied by delicious drinks, and served in a venue that is undeniably cool. Now I can finally stop whinging about how I can never get noodles for breakfast.