Despite the name of this “blog”, I don’t wish to be a jerk about cafes.
It takes guts to start a cafe and I have nothing but respect for those that do. People borrow from friends and sink their life savings into them only to see potential customers walk past time after time, picking apart the menu as if it were a foster parent application. And then you get internet heroes like me that have never had the guts to start a business just go to town on places. So I really don’t want to be a jerk about this place, but I will.
Let me just start by saying that Fenix got on my bad side about 6 weeks ago. And if you will indulge me, I intend to take you back to that fateful day in early January when the birds were chirping, the sun was shining and an apple-cheeked young man by the name of The Cafe Jerk was walking down Victoria Street looking for somewhere to pretend to read Dostoyevsky.
As the 2nd child of Mr and Mrs Cafe Jerk, little The was always picked on at school for his name – usually something along the lines of
“Hey The, at least my name isn’t an adverb, you dickhead!”
“The is actually called a ‘distinguishing adjective’, or ‘definite article’ in the northern hemisphere, you dickhead!” would be his usual comeback as he looked around his classmates for high-fives.
Whenever The rehearsed this grammatical pwning in his head he always pictured being chaired off by the class to the cheers of “THE! THE! THE!”, instead of what usually happened – ie. Stinky Taylor caving his face in with his little fist.
Annnnnyway, enough of my painful childhood. Back to that day in early January 2012. It was such a beautiful day that I thought it would be a great idea to sit by the river and read my book. And then an even better idea hit my dome, why not sit at a cafe by the river, where they can serve me both spirituous and non-spirituous beverages and perhaps some food.
It was closed. On a sunny Saturday in the middle of Summer. And did I mention it overlooks the mighty Yarra River. Excuse my French, but why the fuck would you close a riverside cafe in summer? Close it all winter as far as I care, I don’t even want to look at a body of water when it’s pouring rain. But Summer? Come on.
Eric the Discerning Llama with 90s Hair was invited to join the family at my parents’ birthday brunch at Fenix recently. I had mentioned the ‘Summer Closing’ story to him and he wanted to come down and show his support for me by making a snide and possibly snooty comment under his breath to a Fenix waiter. I knew he wouldn’t go through with it though. Llamas are non-confrontational by nature and so he just ordered the Chinese Wok Omelette with char siu pork, sweet pickles & ginger and decided to let it go. Eric being Eric, I knew he couldn’t let a meal go by without some unnecessarily snooty comment.
I tasted some but unlike Eric, I could get past the name and found it quite tasty.
Then something awkward happened. Eric’s ex-girlfriend arrived and sat literally 2 metres from our table. He was visibly shaken as I remember him saying she had a bit of a nasty streak to her. Turns out he broke up with her because he was sick of dating llamas and she was less than impressed. Apparently called him a human-fucker at least twice. We largely ignored her, but you could see it was kind of getting to him.
I made a classic error of going for the most exotic sounding thing on the menu, the Homemade Spiced Bread I think it was called. It came with some almond crumble, marscarpone and apple fucking compote. Sorry, but seasoned readers of this week-old blog know that saying compote makes me feel like John Q Foodiefuck Jnr. It was actually tea cake. Why didn’t they just say tea cake on the menu? It’s like when people call it banana bread. It is cake. Maybe they just call it bread so you don’t feel like you are eating cake for breakfast. I was picturing some sort of a damper or something. Instead it was more like a damperer! Am I right? Am I right? Wooh just the ladies this time. Yeah the ladies know it.
At the end of the day it was ok but just a bit small and not very filling. Like cake. Not like bread. And it came on a chopping board! How amazingly rustic. I felt like I had been transported to an old English kitchen in the 19th century where widowed old lady Worthington decided not to waste the crockery on me considering we both knew sooner or later it would just end up on the floor in a fit of unbridled passion.
I took shocking, rushed photos of the other meals without my family noticing because even though they know I occasionally write a ‘food blog’ it still doesn’t register with them that I need to take photos of the food. Whenever the phone comes out and the click of the camera sounds they are likely to let off a little giggle, almost as if they know a way to transport an image of the food onto a computer screen without taking a photo of it. I didn’t try these dishes so you decide for yourself if you like them.
680 Victoria Street, Richmond, VIC, 3121