G and I went out for the day yesterday, leaving the kidlets with my parents. School holidays are upon us; this was a parent holiday in preparation.
The day, we decided, should be composed of:
- Brunch. Preferably a large one.
- City-wandering and bookshopping.
- Catching a matinee at the Comedy Festival
So after we dropped the girls to my Mum's at 9:30, we set off for Parents' Day Out Part the First - Brunch.
I first heard of Black Ruby cafe in North Carlton from the people at Absolutely Gluten Free, the gluten-free supermarket in Werribee. Shane, one of the owners, was raving about the bread Black Ruby makes.
"Best I've ever had," he said emphatically. "Good enough to make fairy bread with." We both nodded sagely. Fairy bread is one of the recognised litmus tests for gluten free bread, as is peanut butter sandwiches. Poor gluten free bread makes both these treats inedible.
I ordered some of the Black Ruby bread through Absolutely Gluten Free and liked it a lot. It did make a nice, if slightly chewy, peanut butter sandwich, and the fruit loaf, toasted, was to die for.
So when I was searching for a brunch option, I lit quickly on Black Ruby, as it's two blocks from the tramline that would take us right into town, as well as being 100% gluten free.
I'll write that again, for all the weary Coeliacs out there who have been made sick from cross-contamination one too many times -
EVERYTHING THEY SELL IS GLUTEN FREE.
ALL OF IT.
NO GLUTEN IN THE PLACE. ANYWHERE.
Being able to choose from any entire menu is, of course, a big treat, but the extra assurance of knowing that you don't have to worry about preparation methods and so on is wonderful.
Of course, I do have other criteria by which I judge the awesomeness (or otherwise) of an eating establishment. Gluten free is a strong start, but is the food delicious? Is the service good? Is the atmosphere comfortable and welcoming?
(Clearly, I do not have a great career ahead of me in restaurant reviewing :-)
To elaborate, we found Black Ruby to be a very cosy, well-set-up little cafe. We snagged a table in behind the door, which sounds cramped but was actually great - it was like our own private booth in the window, looking out to the sidewalk. Our coffees, ordered on arrival, were delivered within 3 minutes and were perfect, always a good start.
We both opted for the big breakfast and settled in for a chat, but it arrived only 15 minutes after ordering - so fast that I was a bit surprised actually! I saw on a couple of the restaurant review sites that people have been complaining about slow or unfriendly service, but all I can say is, our experience was the absolute polar opposite of that. The staff were really friendly and efficient, and it's probably the quickest I've ever gotten a cooked-breakfast order in a busy cafe on a weekend morning.
As for the food -
The food was magnificient. Delicious juicy little sausages, perfectly runny poached eggs, rashers of bacon, a little lamb chop, tomatoes, spinach, and the most yummy onion jam stuff to eat with the savouries. The eggs, of course, nestled on a thick slice of Black Ruby's home-made bread. I should've taken a photo of the food, but I was hungry and was halfway through it before it occured to me. (Another reason why I should never become a restaurant blogger!)
We washed it all down with a second hot drink - tea for me, another coffee for hubs - and rolled ourselves with difficulty out the door, with a little pocket change from $50. I consider that extraordinarily good value, given that if we had taken the kids, we would only have needed to add in an order of pancakes to feed us all bountifully. (Actually my only regret is that there was no way we could have squished pancakes in. I really wanted to try them. Next time!)
All in all - big thumbs up from both me and G, both as a gluten free eating haven and as a general top cafe. We'll most certainly be back.
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