Type of Venue: Cafe, Restaurant, Bar
Cuisine: Mediterranean influenced modern Australian fare
Highly Recommended: Cocktails, Pork Tacos, Chorizo Croquettes, Mushroom Benedict, Braised Lamb Shoulder
Two Fat Monks is one of those places that delivers on initial expectations, and potentially exceeds them. Walking into this spacious, high-ceilinged venue, the ambience is a fine-tuned balance between energy and calming serenity. An eye for interior design has successfully combined warm-toned furnishings with sleek black lines and clean white surfaces, resulting in a trendy cafe that offers breakfast and lunch, as well as dinner on select days.
Taking in the layout of this multifunction venue, a central bay serves as an organised work station for floor staff, complete with a coffee machine and roaster, beers on tap and clean glass cabinets showcasing the day’s house made pastries and sweet treats. Whether you sit at a booth or table, most areas of the cafe have prime view of the open-windowed kitchen towards the back, where hearty plates of food are placed on the pass in a timely manner.
With the elegant restraint of their interior design, complimented by the friendly nature of their staff, you can’t help but feel a sense of comfort and down-to-earth simplicity that many cafe’s fail to portray. This positive experience extends to their menu, with a new range of breakfast and lunch offerings that leave customers spoilt for choice.
Starting with drinks, a hot Summer’s day calls for a refreshing cocktail. Carefully made in-house and beautifully presented in large drinking jars, the generous portion size potentially justifies their cocktail prices (which are average for a cocktail these days, but more than what you would expect to pay for a drink at a cafe), though a little more alcohol is needed to remind me that I’m not drinking a delicious mocktail.
Pimm Mister ($18.00)
(Pimm’s, lime, orange, strawberries, dry ginger)
Tipsy Lemongrass & Ginger Tea ($16.00)
(iced tea, vodka, honey, ginger ale, mint)
Offering a selection of breakfast dishes that are also available throughout the day, brunch is a definite possibility for those who love to sleep in. The Mushroom Benedict is generously hearty and filling, featuring toasted brioche, exotic mushrooms, broad beans, crisp shallots, goat’s cheese, vincotto, poached eggs and truffled hollandaise. Deliciously rich and tasty, it could potentially benefit from a balsamic vinegar or glaze to help to tie the ingredients together, thus further elevating this dish to another level.
Mushroom Benedict ($19.50)
+ added Haloumi ($4.50)
Arriving at the lunch menu, both small sharing plates and larger mains are available, catering to customers of all tastes and appetites. Round morcels of mashed potato are interspersed with mozzarella and chorizo to produce Chorizo Croquettes, whose outer coating is fried to a crispy crumbed texture, and finished with a subtle truffle mayo.
Chorizo Croquettes ($12.00)
Another appetiser are the Twice-Cooked Pork Tacos – a recommended favourite by the staff. Soft shell tortillas are each topped with a single block of twice-cooked pork, pickled onions, red cabbage, jalapeno peppers and hoisin sauce. The tender yet perfectly chewy texture of the pork goes so well with the hoisin sauce, all balanced out by a fresh salad on the side. My only suggestion relates to the quantity ratio: either, make the tortillas smaller to match the size of the pork, or add more ingredients to fill the edges of the tortillas.
Twice-Cooked Pork Tacos ($15.50)
Slow cooked for 12 hours to produce delicately tender, pull-apart meat, the Braised Lamb Shoulder is a surefire hit. Served on the plate with a smearing of beetroot hummus and a salad of spinach, roasted capsicum, pumpkin, pinenuts, goat’s cheese and balsamic dressing, this dish is ideal for a healthy lunch that will undoubtedly fill your stomach. Each component is enjoyable whether eaten individually, or altogether.
Braised Lamb Shoulder ($19.50)
Thinking our meal experience was over and getting up to leave, our main waitress, Siena, surprised us with a dessert to finish. A popular breakfast dish, Espresso Panna Cotta arrives in all its wobbly glory, surrounded by fresh strawberries, blueberries, cream and two types of coulis gracefully dolloped around the plate. The various textures and sweet flavours of the tropical Summer fruits compliment the well balanced espresso flavour of the panna cotta, proving to be an impressive dessert for those who don’t need much to fill the appetite.
Espresso Panna Cotta ($16.00)
Seemingly lurking behind the scenes of Melbourne’s cafe scene, Two Fat Monks deserves to move to the front of the crowd. A contemporary venue is backed up by a stellar menu, whose skilful balance of flavours, textures and excitement provide just a few reasons for why they are a popular local venue. Passionate about the fresh quality of produce that Australia offers, combined with the multiculturalism of the surrounding neighbourhood, Two Fat Monks provides a casually enjoyable dining experience.
Note: I dined as a guest of Two Fat Monks. Thank you to the management and staff for their generous hospitality throughout our experience.
Two Fat Monks
254-256 Wingrove St
Fairfield, VIC 3078
Ph: (03) 9489 6272
Hours: Breakfast – Mon-Fri 7:30am-12pm, Weekends & Public Holidays 8am-12pm. Lunch – Daily 12-3pm. Dinner Fri-Sat 5:30-9pm.