401 Smith St
Fitzroy, VIC 3065
Having only been able to come down to Melbourne once a year over the last couple of years has really cramped my progress in getting through all of Melbourne’s new and exciting restaurant openings (not to mention, the existing places I’ve yet to visit). As a result, picking which places to visit when I am home becomes very fraught; how does one pick 3 options out of a shortlist that refuses to be cut down to less than 30? After endless humming and hawing, plus no fewer than 3 changings-of-minds, I finally settled on Pavlov’s Duck for my catchup with K.
Pavlov’s been around for a little while now, having set up in Fitzroy over 6 years ago. The drawcard here is Sri Lankan-inspired brunch, with lesser-seen dishes such as Milk Rice served with curry, and Breakfast Hoppers. The usual suspects are also here, but most of them have a bit of added flair, which I appreciate.
It was an odd sort of day where neither of us were in a coffee mood, but not to worry – Pavlov’s has a generous range of alternatives. K’s Prana Chai Latte ($5) looked the part, served loose-leaf in a pot with a side of honey. The spices here are front and centre, with an emphasis on the ginger and cardamom. I personally prefer my chai with a bit more clove and a stronger taste of black tea, but you’re definitely getting a good quality brew with this. The Matcha Latte ($5) on the other hand was very run-of-the-mill; although not bland per se, you definitely don’t get the clean, grassy flavour of high quality matcha.
In between the hefty Christmas eats, I’ve been trying to keep things reasonable, hence my uncharacteristic order of Beetroot Açai Yoghurt ($15.5). The presentation of this was lovely, the beetroot-tinged natural yoghurt topped with an appetising array of fruits, seeds, and granola. Taste-wise it was exactly what it says on the packet, no more and no less. It wouldn’t be overly difficult to recreate this at home, but as this was more or less what I had wanted, I had no complaints.
K’s Sweet Benny ($21.5) on the other hand was a bit of an odd one. The traditional brunch has been given a twist with the replacement of bread by sweet potato hash browns, which were also the highlight of the dish. Each patty had a beautifully crunchy exterior, and a light, sweet centre that avoided any stodginess. Everything else however fared less well. Although there was nothing wrong with any of the elements, they failed to come together as a cohesive whole. It’s a real shame, given how good the hash browns were. Also, just to make it clear: the smear of pumpkin puree was perfectly neat when it came to the table; the mess was made by my accidentally tipping half the plate over.
As much as I hate to say it, Pavlov’s Duck was distinctly underwhelming. To be fair, we didn’t get any of the Sri Lankan-styled dishes – the ones that they’re known for – but Melbourne’s café scene has come such a long way that I would expect most, if not all dishes on a menu to be good, not just the signatures. What I will say however is that it’s a surprisingly nice place to hang out. Being spacious, homely, and not too busy, it’s a good place to linger over an extra coffee or two.
Rating: 11.5/20 – no drooling here.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.