Where breakfast desserts fail to meet the reserve.
In the last half-a-decade or so, Melbourne’s northside has been increasingly viewed as an up-and-coming place, a favourite of the hipster and bohemian, the student and young professional. Mirroring this trend, a few inspired dining venues have emerged from its generally nondescript road strips, not to mention a proliferation of cafes on an epidemic scale. Arguably, these cafes, rather than the restaurants, embody the laid-back, moderately gentrifying nature of Melbourne’s inner-north. Auction Rooms is one such cafe, and four years on, it still manages a profound intangible magnetism that sees crowds filing outside its doors especially around weekend brunch hours. The facade of Auction Rooms is a tragedy of peeling paint, the inside not much better, with striking columnal pipe lighting the only true furnishings in a space that exudes a sense that the proprietors ran short of money for interior decorating. Yet, as in true Melbourne spirit, and perhaps only in Melbourne, such third-world country dilapidation buzzes with life and the warm scent of coffee beans.
For the sweet-tooth on the quest for sweet breakfasts, there are very few sweet options at Auction Rooms to tempt a passage from savoury breakfasts to breakfast desserts. Over several visits over the years, MoMo & Coco have only ever had the opportunity of two breakfast desserts at Auction Rooms. The first is one you should look out for. Named the “Elvis” ($14-$15), it channels the best elements of American breakfast — bacon, maple syrup, french toast, peanut butter, spiced or rum icecream all in one. Highly indulgent. On our most recent visit the subject of this review, there was available the far less exciting, less generous “Brioche” ($11). A single flat dry bread thing that came with a tumble of poached quinces, sitting in a shallow pool of wispy, watery syrup of sorts. Our two friends who chose the savoury route were less than impressed with the parsimonious food size and the gross proportion of fat to bacon meat in a cassoulet-style dish, and in another brunch offering, charred bread accompanied by two mere plops of poached eggs and a careless cream swirl.
Over its four years of life, as the queues and the hype has increased in quantity, the service at Auction Rooms has become increasingly slipshod and the food offerings of declining, haphazard quality. Auction Rooms has sadly, become one of those places you go for coffee, take-away style, you pay and you run along. Except maybe for a return appearance of the magnificent “Elvis” breakfast dessert, Auction Rooms is no longer worth waiting for.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: Auction Rooms Cafe, 103-107 Errol Street, North Melbourne, Vic 3051.
- ☑ Budget: $.
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Breakfast dessert.
- ☑ Must-eat: The elusive “Elvis French Toast.”
- ☑ The short and sweet story: Where breakfast desserts fail to meet the reserve.