Find yourself at a rare British-inspired cafe named Saint James in the neighbourly hub of Malvern. We did, as were invited along to sample their brunch menu over a sunny weekend day in March. We had a great experience at Saint James with some top notch presentation, priced about right and at appetite appeasing sizes. Our top recommendation would be to give the unique Fish Finger Butty (an English classic) but you can’t go wrong with any of the dishes we tried. We’d suggest requesting a seat in the courtyard at the back to make the most of the rays. It’s also carries a sense of peacefulness and relaxation that takes you out of the hustle and bustle of the usual busy brunch scene which is what a spot like Malvern is perfect for.
We had arrived at Saint James a touch late to the standard time brunch game (at a cosy 1pm), but still found it was plentiful packed which is a good sign straight off the back. By consequence we ended up being seated in the courtyard and took well to this spot. Our brunch must have looked good as we caught the eye of a cheeky magpie over our short, eating-themed afternoon in the sun.
We started with a couple of coffees, both of these living up to Melbourne’s high standard and started the difficult task of working our way through the strong and appealing menu. I can sometimes be a be a bit picky when a comes to food and can sometimes struggle for choice, at Saint James is was pretty much the opposite.
We ended up with me going for the St Benedict and Jamie the Avocado smash. The lure of a Fish Finger butty was too strong and we ended up getting one to share as well. When in doubt, order more, as the saying goes. I think.
The St Benedict is much of a classic Egg’s Benedict with a huge ton of pulled pork. Not literally, but kind of. This was a stand out Benedict for me. The eggs were perfectly runny, great crunchy bread and a huge mound of delicious roast pork. The best bit was the Hollandaise which was flavoursome and some surprising and well received nutty undertones from the Beurre Noisette (that’s a brown butter) In a way, there was perhaps a little bit too much pork for the plate and as Manu from MKR is very fond of saying – it needed more sauce (mainly because the sauce was so delicious i would happily have drunk it).
Avocado Smash was also very much up to standard; full of flavour with all the trimmings you come to expect from a top notch Melbourne brunch. The dukkah complimented the dish, my only criticism would be that more dukkah throughout the smash would have boosted the dish up. That’s more a reflection of how good it was, so we would greedily have it all.
For those of you who don’t know a Fish Finger Butty is, it’s a classic that reminds me strongly of my childhood. I’m British so that’s true. It is always made with plain white buttered bread. I haven’t had one in years for fact and so was excited to try St James version which was highly recommended by the staff.
The bread was insanely good, soft and fluffy which is exactly what this dish needs. The fish was moist and well cooked and was perfectly paired with the home made cabbage slaw. A dish I would absolutely recommend if you are heading out to Saint James and a pleasure to have on the menu here.
I would highly recommend this British brunch place but perhaps with a note of caution, if you ever head to the UK, don’t expect the food to be quite the same, as there is a large amount of Melbourne’s influence here.
Note: author dined at invitation of the restaurant