St Ali, South Melbourne
Whether its your first time here or if you are a seasoned regular, St Ali is a reliable place to see and be seen. An always busy spot tucked away in Yarra Place, its has become almost a behemoth, dominating the small South Melbourne block.
It was Saturday and we were with people about to buy a house so a Mimosa and a Bloody Mary were sensible decisions for a late morning brunch. There has often been a question whether St Ali is a victim of its own success the thing that can let it down, is service. Its a hit and miss affair which is disappointing because the food here is superb.
Some risks are taken in the kitchen which pay off beautifully on the plate. We enjoyed Eggs Arlington, a benedict style dish made up of a couple of poached eggs, light as air hollandaise, potato hash and a piece of cured salmon. Deftly handled, the fish was impeccable in texture and just the right amount of curing. The potato was naughty yet delicious, but the side of house made crumpets would have been preferred underneath the dish on a slightly larger plate. The wasabi was there but lacked the tangy, nose clearing horseradish heat usually found.
Others in our group enjoyed the St Ali classic My Mexican Cousin - corn fritters, poached eggs, a a squeaky haloumi crumb with a sweetcorn salsa, a spicy kasoundi and leaves. It was enjoyable but given how much of a stalwart this dish is, it kind of lacked anything overly exciting. Maybe I am looking for a wow factor which might be too much of an ask.
Part of me wanted to add truffles to everything and order a caviar service but there was a house to be purchased and we had spent long enough indulging. That they are there on offer along with dishes which have stood the test of time for 17 years makes me very happy.
The coffee, of course, was a standout as always. This little empire was built from great coffee 16 years ago and where ever you look, you can find Salvatore Malatesta's touch. His latest is a partnership with distillers Archie Rose - Coffee Whisky spirit that blends St Ali Orthodox & Wide Awake Coffee with Archie Rose's award-winning Single Malt Whisky.
St Ali is for the most part on point. The team dressed in overalls in the uber industrial building look like they belong. Only a week out of lockdown, we can make allowances for running out of orange juice and having a few time challenges in the kitchen.
Its a gem of a place. We look forward to the next visit
St Ali. 12-18 Yarra Pace, South Melbourne
Monday to Sunday, 7am – 5pm.