541 Church Street
Richmond, VIC 3121
You know Pillar of Salt? Of course you do. Opened in 2011, it’s one of the stalwart brunch spots in Melbourne that’s carved out a permanent niche for itself within the ever-changing cafe scene. It’s also one of the few ‘classic’ places in Melbourne I’ve yet to try, so despite many newer openings that I’m very curious about, I’ve decided to get this done once and for all.
Pillar of Salt is a lot bigger than its small street-corner store front suggests, which is just as well, because the place seems to be popular regardless of when you show up. The narrow little cafe leads out into a covered courtyard that’s almost as large, and is full of nooks and crannies that are perfectly sized to fit small groups of brunch-aholics.
My Skinny Flat White ($4), made with 5 senses beans, was subpar. The milk was overheated, and the coffee tasted a bit burnt and ashy. The quality of the beans was there, but I have to admit I would’ve expected better execution from a top Melbourne cafe. As for the Cold Pressed Granny Smith Apple Juice ($6)… well, that was the kind that came in a bottle; you know, the Preshafruit brand?
The Benedict ($19) was a cumberbatch of protein-filled goodness. The sourdough toast was topped with a pile of tender pork hock shredded off the bone, and two perfectly poached eggs. The pear and rosemary hollandaise was a highlight; not only was it thick and creamy, its hint of tangy fruitiness was a good accompaniment to the rich, salty pork. It was a small-looking dish that ended up being surprisingly substantial.
The Smashed Avocado, Feta, and Kale ($18) with a side of Bacon ($4.5) ticked all of my brunch boxes. But despite the great sounding and tasting ingredients – grilled asparagus, spiced toasted pepitas, pickled poblano chillies – I thought the dish didn’t form a very cohesive whole. I do however have nothing but praise for the meaty rashers of bacon, and the poached eggs that oozed its perfectly gooey yolk over the entire dish.
I think I got too late onto the Pillar of Salt bandwagon. I’m sure that a few years ago, it would’ve been one of the best brunch places around, but these days with so many cafes striving to out-do each other, Pillar of Salt has nothing to distinguish itself from its competitors. All it really left me thinking is that I should’ve gone to Top Paddock, which is just down the road.
Rating: 13/20 – where league players go for brunch.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.