402 Brunswick St
Fitzroy, VIC 3065
The grass is always greener on the other side; case in point: whilst I’ve lamented my unemployment through a string of brunches, Chris is constantly complaining about the hotcakes that he’s not getting to have on account of work. But now that Chris is back at uni (and I’m still more or less unemployed), we finally have a chance to brunch together at Rustica Sourdough.
Located right around the corner from brunch big shot Hammer & Tong, Rustica Sourdough lures passers-by in with its tantalising display of baked goods. But as most people quickly discover, not only is Rustica a bakery, but also a quaint little cafe. Decorated with bushels of wildflowers and grainy wooden furniture, it is indeed rather rustica, and very very charming.
Aside from bread though, there is an intoxicating range of goodies lined up behind a long counter. Sweets and savouries, treats and take-away lunches – whatever you need, they’ve got you covered.
Having resigned myself to my coffee addiction, I happily sipped on a Skinny Flat White ($3.5) whilst waiting for my food. Unfortunately this was a fairly unremarkable coffee. To its credit though, it has a healthy, strong kick to it, and the crockery it’s served in is darling.
We were warned that the French Toast ($16.5) would be enormous, and despite brushing off the waiter’s cautions, I couldn’t help but gasp when confronted with this mountain of sugary goodness. The thick, golden slabs of brioche were coated with sticky butterscotch cream. From the top of the pile tumbled a cornucopia of ripe summer berries, garnished with flower petals and sugary crushed praline.
Despite its indulgent appearance however, the dish was actually a rather balanced affair. The richness of the butterscotch sauce combined well with the cool pistachio mascarpone, whilst the poached apples, sandwiched by the fluffy brioche, were ripe and wholesome. But in the end, we were defeated by the sheer size of it.
Compared to the French Toast, anything would’ve looked underwhelming, but although the Spanish Omelette ($17) looked humble, it wafted tantalisingly with the aroma of sage and pine nuts.
I was originally sceptical about the lack of toast, but the sheer amount of egg in this dish meant that we really didn’t need it. The omelette was crisp on the outside, but fluffy in the middle, and studded with chewy strips of spicy chorizo and sweet butternut squash. The peppery salad of wild rocket meant that the eggs didn’t become cloying halfway through. That said though, I would call this more of a summer frittata than a Spanish omelette but hey, a rose by any other name, right?
I was just mourning over the fact that I had no room to try any of the baked goods, when the staff showed up with a massive goodie bag for me to take home. I was treated to two fresh loaves of bread – a strong and yeasty Quinoa, Soy, and Linseed Sourdough, studded with wholesome nuts, and a Roasted Pumpkin Sourdough that’s creamy yellow in the middle with a hint of sweetness.
The best bit by far however was the box at the bottom, which included 5 delectable treats:
Salted Caramel and Vanilla Custard Cronut: yes this was as scandalously indulgent as it sounded, the buttery pastry layered with thick vanilla custard and a salty streak of caramel.
Savoury Muffin: I usually can’t stand savoury muffins, but this one was stuffed with herbs and deliciously fluffy.
Hot Cross Buns: these were swooped up before I had a chance to try them, but I was told that they were chock-full of fruit and quite lovely.
Ispahan Croissant: this was my favourite of the lot. Though it looked pretty with rosewater icing and dried flower petals, it’s the centre that really took my breath away. The flaky layers were streaked through with raspberry and lychee, so that it took on a melt-in-the-mouth texture reminiscent of bread and butter pudding.
Blueberry Brioche Doughnut: lightly fried and rolled in a flurry of sugar, this doughnut was golden on the outside, whilst the inside remained fluffy and white, soaking up the chunky blueberry compote.
Though Rustica Sourdough wasn’t anything fancy, I thought that it made for a nice change to have a brunch that was generous in size, and just plain tasted good. Plus, I like the range of options available when it comes to ordering a small post-brunch dessert. This is a great option for those who just can’t be bothered to wait 40 minutes to get into Hammer & Tong.
Rating: 13/20 – doughnut forget me!
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of Rustica Sourdough.