Monday, 21 April 2014

My Best Friend Barry

Isn't it great when you find that special someone that you know will always have your back? Someone who'll have the perfect remedy to your hangover, give you a tasty green smoothie after your gym workout, always leave you feeling satisfied and will really just, well, show you a good time. Well I've found that special someone - Barry. Ok, technically Barry isn't a someone he's a something (bear with me, I'm not a crazy person who makes friends with inanimate objects). Barry is Northcote's newest cafe that's drawing crowds with good-looks, charm, superfoods and peanut butter.

Barry's light-filled interior and soaring white walls sets the scene for this hip yet friendly cafe, with scatterings of pot plants adding touches of colour around the large room dotted with communal and individual tables. Barry is always a busy guy, filled with Eastern-suburb hipsters, fitness gurus carrying yoga mats and chattering mums baring babies. But don't worry, the attentive staff make sure there's plenty of Barry to go around.

Head chef Stephen Svensen from Pillar of Salt has created a menu that pushes the boundaries of the traditional cafe brunch and looks outside the smashed-avocado-box to tempt it's customers. I must say, I was a little taken aback when I saw 'crunchy peanut butter with heirloom tomatoes' on the menu followed by a cheeky little "trust us" in brackets. But you know what, I probably would. I'll take their word on the peanut butter tomato thing, but it's little quirks like this that make me dig Barry - I really do feel as though I'm just chilling out in my best friends lounge room. The menu has a focus on healthy foods, vibrating with freshness and quality ingredients that makes super foods a party, not a penance. I couldn't resist ordering the Californian Superfood Salad with tri-coloured quinoa, shredded kale, charred corn, puffed black rice, black beans, heirloom tomatoes and a limey jalapeƱo vinaigrette. I have to say that this is, without a doubt, the best cafe salad I have ever eaten. It was a textual sensation with the soft quinoa contrasting the crunchy black rice and a flavour bomb showcasing smokey charred corn, zesty lime juice and fiery chillies. My Cafe Companion chose the raw zucchini lasagne with cashew, kale and sun-dried tomato pesto and this I can also highly recommend. I'm always a little hesitant to order raw food, but in this case do yourself a favour and be brave. The pesto was wonderfully flavourful and sweet and the raw zucchini added the perfect little crunch; light, fresh and delicious!

If the mention of quinoa makes your toes curl, don't worry, because it's not all kale and Kumbaya at Barry. Oh no, he's a dude that caters for everyone. Fans of cholesterol can opt for a gleaming golden omelette wrapped around mushrooms bathed in havarti cheese and truffled hazelnuts, traditionalists can get around eggs benedict with potato rosti and apple cider hollandaise and sweet tooths aren't forgotten with brioche, pistachio marscapone and raspberries. Hungover? Barries got the cure for that too; a waygu beef burger with pickles, cheddar, spicy relish and thick-cut chips, or maybe the crispy Korean chicken sub with nori mayo.

So there you have it, my new best friend Barry. I'm expecting our friendship to be long and ever-lasting, filled with relaxed tasty breakfasts, engaging nourishing lunches and, who knows, one day he might even convince me to eat tomatoes and peanut butter on toast. I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship...

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