Sunday, 19 February 2012

Beatrix, North Melbourne

  • Single slice of cheese + sad flop of ham ≠ sandwich.
  • Smear of jam on two slices of white bread ≠ sandwich.
  • Limp lettuce + [(egg + mayonnaise) × wrong ratio] ≠ sandwich. 
Okay, so the last equation was borderline smart-arse, but you get the point. The equation for a decent sandwich that you would actually dream about eating is too complex to try and write, so here's a pictorial example: 

Well...half an example.
But that's what tends to happen to good-lookin' specimens.

Enter Beatrix, a tiny cafe which sits on the corner of Queensberry Street and Lothian Street in North Melbourne. The modus operandi is simple but a killer: a different ciabatta (with a choice of small or large) and a cabinet full of freshly baked sweeties changing every day of the week.

Although I'd stopped by to pick up a cookie or cake in the past, my first sandwich experience coincided with Australia Day. I went for the daily special, 'The O.A.M' - grilled Spear Creek lamb shoulder, minted potato salad and a tomato chilli sauce ($13.50, L). 

It was magnificent. The ciabatta was pleasantly crunchy (without shredding the roof of one's mouth), the lamb was juicy and the creamy potatoes and relish held it all together. G, ever suspicious of carbs, thought that the potato + bread combination would be too much, but the difference in textures definitely made it work.

The sister went for one of the few permanent fixtures on the menu, the 'Shakshuka in a Roll' - Israeli pepper and tomato braise with a fried free range egg, fetta and mint ($11). By all accounts, it was thoroughly enjoyed.

Desserts followed a distinctly Australian theme - G ordered a pavlova, crisp and light, with genuine vanilla bean cream (!) while I opted for a large, jammy lamington showered with real curls of toasted coconut (none of that lame, dessicated crap).

And to complete the trifecta of patriotic baked goods, an Anzac cookie for the road. 

Today, G and I went for round two. I ordered one of the other old hat menu items, the 'Bea-L-T' - grilled bacon, ripe Doncaster tomatoes, cos and apple aioli ($11, on gluten free bread as shown for $1 extra). 

No complaints regarding the crispy bacon and the delicious shade of apple in the aioli; I just wish it had been bigger!

G ordered the much-raved-about 'Banh Bea' - lemongrass and coconut roasted free range chicken with pickled carrot, cucumber, coriander and toasted peanuts ($13.00, L). 

ZOMG. That just about sums it up. 

G and I shared a Whoopie Pie ($4.50), being curious about the taste and texture of this traditional American treat. The one we ordered happened to have a raspberry marshmallow cream filling. 

The sponge was great - really moist, rich and full of cocoa. I liked the addition of raspberry to the cream, which added a hint of tartness to a relatively sweet filling. 

Beatrix has a great vibe: the staff are lovely and clearly enjoy what they're doing; the sandwiches are generous and epic creations; the sweets are so pretty they will make your eyes and (sweet) tooth ache with longing. 'Like' their Facebook page to get previews of the week's eats - ideal for planning your eating itinerary - and beautiful photographs that will make you drool all over your computer screen...

688 Queensberry Street (cnr Lothian Street)
North Melbourne 
Monday, Wednesday to Sunday: 9am - 4pm

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