Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Big Wheels Are Still Turning At Proud Mary

I don't know about you guys, but when I hear the name Proud Mary, I immediately think of two things; Tina Turner and annoyingly catchy 70's cover songs. But after this, slightly disturbing, image of swirling retro backdrops and afros subsides, another thought comes into my head, and a much more pleasant one at that. A thought filled with the vapours of deliciously roasting coffee and the promise of fantastic food. This thought can only be the result of one let me take you, Dear Reader, for a journey on the number 86 tram down Smith Street, past the crazy old man relieving himself on the corner of a pub and the Vietnamese supermarket selling vegetables that look like they've lived longer than you (now might not be the best time to tell you that you should have had your tetanus, hepatitis, and flu vaccinations before undertaking this journey), and around the corner into little Oxford Street, where you will be greeted by another Proud Mary, one of Melbourne's most sought after cafes.

The space at Proud Mary is open and welcoming, with simple furnishings and windows keeping things light and low key. The coffee bar is not only the first thing that you see when you walk in, but is also central focus of the room, showing that when it comes to coffee, these guys mean serious business. Proud Mary has two of its own house blends; 'Angel Wings', which is full of smooth caramel and butterscotch with notes of red fruits, and 'Ghost Rider', which has hints of spiced apricot marmalade, caramel and golden syrup. There is also their filter menu, which usually offers a range of six or seven specially sourced beans (with conveniently added tasting notes) which are available in Syphon, V60 Pour Over, French Press or Chemex. Now, if all of that just sounded like a lot of unidentifiable nonsense, never fear, because a simple flat white here can most definitely hit your C spot (it's like a G spot except it satisfies your caffeine cravings, instead of...well, you know).

On the food front, the big wheels are most definitely 'keeping on turning', if you will, with the all day breakfast and lunch menu offering a slightly more refined cafe fare. There are choices such as house-smoked salmon with fennel puree, shaved fennel salad and a poached egg, ricotta hotcakes with caramelised peach, toasted pistachio and rose marscapone or the slow-cooked lamb sandwich with beetroot relish and herbed yogurt. I myself indulged in the avocado on organic sourdough with charred corn and quinoa tabouleh, goats cheese and chilli oil which was completely delicious, with the acidity of the tabouleh and the chilli cutting through the avocado perfectly. My Cafe Companion went for the special of hand cut pappardelle with zucchini, fennel and poached chicken. Iv'e never experienced pasta hugging my internal organs before, but I have to say, after my first mouthful of this dish, I'm now a firm believer in pasta spooning. The wait staff are helpful and willing to offer you advice when it comes to your many and multiple coffee options...that's right, no sneers from these peeps if you don't know the difference between an espresso machine or an Aeropress. The room itself is a great and comfortable place to spend your hours, perhaps writing poetry in a moleskin notebook if you're of the 'Indie-Kid' persuasion, or sipping on a Columbian Pour Over if you're a coffee freak. That is, if you can get a seat for a few hours of course, because on a weekend Proud Mary is busier than bloody Wall Street. Though, unsurprisingly, no one is wearing a suit.

So, if you haven't had the pleasure yet, come and chill at Proud Mary, because with everything from it's cool location (minus the peeing old guy-that's just gross), great coffee and fantastic food, this place really does seem to be the perfect Melbourne cafe. There may not be GoGo dancers or afros, but, as
Miss Turner so kindly informs us, 'the Proud Mary keeps on burning'....aaaaand cue disco ball!

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