The Surburban Cafe Flourishes

For owner Tait Crespin, one of the two behind a thriving six-month old café, breakfast spots should always feel like home…and run like one

If you ever do drive past a lifeless steely grey building on South Caulfield’s Booran Road, don’t drive away. Better yet, have a look inside. It’s a property within a property, a breakfast joint within a non-descript façade.

Outside, the streets and parks are filled with a certain stillness. Mr Brightside marches to its own beat, soaked in an atmosphere vastly different than its surroundings. Upon stepping in, one is warmly greeted by the waiters at the entrance and the heartening familiarity of morning chatter.

But more strikingly, is the stylish timbre frame, which overlooks the eating area.  Perched over the wooden planks above were metal cages fashioned as lampshades. Quirky wall decorations and suspended potted plants line the space adding to the homely feel.

Designed to look like an airy log cabin, Mr Brightside is cleverly transformed into a spot that exudes a warm and inviting ambience. A refreshing addition to the suburban eatery landscape.

As its interiors, Mr. Brightside’s staff makes you feel at home.

At a table nearby, a customer asked, “Do you do avocado milkshakes here?”.

“Avocado?,” the perplexed waiter replied

“Yeah, avocado. In a milkshake,” the customer responded assuredly.

“You’re tricking me aren’t you? We don’t have avocado milkshakes. But we do have beetroot, vegetable types. Would you fancy that? Nah, I’m just kidding,” the waiter quipped with a smile.

This exchange encapsulated the biggest compliment, owners Tait Crespin and George Redwan has ever received for their six-month-old endeavour. It is what Tait marks, a ‘great reflection’ of themselves.

Opened last November, the café has hardly done any publicity since its inception and relied mainly upon the hearsay of the residents. “We’re on Facebook and Twitter. We don’t really need to have our menus on there, its quite simple. It’s breakfast. As long as people know where you are, people will come try you out,” says Tait.

And he’s probably right. About 40-50 percent of its customers are regulars and all return for its tasty grub, coffee and the inclusive dining experience. The duo’s venture into brunch culture provides comfort dishes and affable service at affordable prices.

IMG_9615-2The Brightside Reuben. Photo credits: Farah Liyana

One of the crowd favourites is the Brightside Reuben, a traditional meat sandwich originating from Nebraska. Generous slices of moist beef brisket are layered upon dollops of sauerkraut and smeared with Russian mayo. Holding it together are two pieces of toasted rye bread tucked with melted Swiss cheese underside. Not overly tangy, the sauerkraut complemented the beef brisket well, as the latter is minimally seasoned. The plate is completed with a side of strong smelling pickles, a thoughtful touch to mitigate the richness of the dish.

IMG_9609-2Potato Hash Browns. Photo credits: Farah Liyana

The beef brisket makes another appearance in the dish, Potato Hash Browns. Two crispy rounded hash browns are topped with soft poached eggs and served with tender beef brisket slices and grain mustard sauce spooned over. The different textures succeed in producing a multi-dimensional flavour. It could work better with a bigger helping of mustard sauce as it gets a tad drier towards the end of the meal. But otherwise, a commendable take on the tired standard ingredients of poached eggs and hash browns.

IMG_9595-2Corn Croquettes. Photo credits: Farah Liyana

For small-eaters opt for the Corn Croquettes. The croquettes were crispy on the outside breaking into a smooth and creamy filling, with the occasional sweet burst of corn. Two pieces of fried corn croquettes are laid upon slabs of salmon, of which, could afford to be fresher. It is teamed with a heaping portion of snow pea tendrils, topped with a perfect poached egg and zesty lemon dressing.


Wagyu Beef Burger. Photo credits: Farah Liyana

The menu’s star remains to be the Wagyu beef burger. Think a thick succulent medium-well wagyu beef patty slathered with mustard and heaped with caramelised onions. When it comes to burgers, every component counts. And in this area, Mr. Brightside shines. The burger buns were tender and soft, a fitting complement to the juicy beef and sweet onions. Surprisingly, this burger is not the overworked classic.

“It should never be basic. You should have an experience with your food. It shouldn’t be as simple as something you get out of a supermarket,” Tait explains.

A common tread is apparent. Mr Brightside settles for nothing pretentious or overly fancy. Instead, it works on the good old favourites but with an added twist. A move warmly received by its patrons.

“Its like I live here. I come here too often, until it became my second home!,” Helena Whitty, a regular exclaimed.

Lauded as a family-friendly eatery, Mr Brightside extends its warm welcome by providing picnic mats in any case you and the little ones prefer to spend the day lazing in the sun.

Mr Brightside Cafe on Urbanspoon

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