Posted on Wednesday, 5th February, 2020
What once used to be an occasional lazy Sunday indulgence has now become part of our daylight dining DNA. And it’s no longer just for weekends. A late breakfast becoming lunch (or “blunch”) is an increasing feature during the week – a reflection of our changing lifestyles. The evolution of the casual workforce means more people are calling their local cafe “the office”, where people work, eat, have meetings and take coffee at all times of the day.
In response to this shifting focus, venues embracing the evolution are throwing out the rulebook to create a version of the Aussie “blunch”, with a focus on extendibility, shareability and cultural twists to call their own.
The Turks and their Ottoman culture have a feast which includes honey, dried and fresh fruits and soft cheeses to their breakfast menus, but made more substantial by adding cured meats to the equation.
Chef Somer Sivrioglu offers a brilliant Anatolian-inspired Aussie brunch at his Efendy restaurant in Balmain. Designed for sharing, Efendy’s brunch menu includes over 30 types of Turkish breakfast delicacies comprising bakeries, cheeses, olives, spreads, house-made jams, seasonal vegetables and fruits. Served with eggs, charcuterie and other hot dishes on a board along with Turkish tea and coffee, brunch can – and does – go on for hours.
Just up the road, the Middle Eastern-inspired Kazbah offers a breakfast menu that includes Shakshuka – baked eggs cooked in a tomato and capsicum sauce served with yoghurt – as well as the Kazbah super bowl of lentils, fava beans, chickpeas, spinach, avocado, mushrooms, roast pumpkin, grilled halloumi, fried egg, tahini and harissa tomato jam – all the way to 3pm.
On the Asian side, you have Hungry Paulie – in Eastwood’s new outdoor food market – where market-stall restaurateur Arthur Kuan-Lung Chu serves up China’s favourite rice porridge congee, into which you dip housemade yóutiáo or Chinese doughnut. You can also share sushi-like glutinous rice rolls, a variety of Taiwanese bready snacks such as shāo bǐng – an unleavened, flaky sesame-topped bread bun, or the popular street snack hújiāo bing – a doughy, crunchy-edged bun filled with heavily peppered pork and shallots.
Mona Vale Cafe Monaka is one of the only spots in Sydney where you can indulge in a hotel-style Japanese breakfast or brunch, which consists of grilled fillet of salmon marinated in shio-koji, miso with tofu, and colourful pickled vegetables.
As the workday in a café ebbs and flows, build-your-own shareable dishes are becoming a innovative solution.
At Drummoyne’s Copo, brunch is a light and flexible affair with offerings such as a to-die-for smoked trout and kipfler omelette, which diners can request as an egg-free salad. In Darlinghurst, Lankan Filling Station’s recently launched brunch menu, which includes flaky, buttery roti encasing melted cheese and bacon with a whack of green chilli, red onion and aromatic curry leaves, is drawing both weekend and weekday crowds alike.
Even pubs are getting in on the action. While steaks, schnitties and pastas are still good to go, creating a point of difference in a competitive market can add a new audience to your dining fixture and be an added bonus to your bottom line. Take Melbourne’s Hotel Jesus in Collingwood. They’ve created a new vibe for their brunch dishes that many punters have never heard of. For an easy-going, shareable breakfast – with optional booze – the pub puts on chilaquiles divorciados, breakfast nachos made from tortillas that are fried and layered with meat, beans, cheese and salsa, for example.
And you don’t have to bend over backwards on your brunch menu – just be a little more flexible. For a local treat, Port Adelaide’s The Banksia Tree Café blends native ingredients with classic international influences. Check out their french toast topped with fresh figs, vino cotto, toasted nuts, pashmak (Iranian fairy floss), house-made granola and porridge made with Kangaroo Island oats, or its signature blunch dish – the very South East Asian-inspired house-made XO blue swimmer crab with folded eggs on rye sourdough.
While avo on sourdough is still killing it on any must-do blunch menu, chefs are tapping into our cultural melting pot and creating exciting new brunch menu items to get the day rolling – whether it’s the weekend or not!