Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pillar of Salt cafe, Richmond

***EDIT: I've added some extra thoughts about my subsequent visits to Pillar of Salt at the bottom of this post.***

It's always exciting when a new cafe opens, especially one that looks funky and has a lot of fresh energy from new owners.  I spied Pillar of Salt on Church street earlier this week, and popped in yesterday for a quick juice.  One look at the gorgeous goodies on the counter, and I knew I had to come back for lunch.  Which I did, today!

Counter

Pillar of Salt
541 Church Street
Richmond VIC 3121
Ph: (03) 9421-1550

The building used to be a pretty average cafe, run by two lovely Chinese ladies, whose food and coffee were, unfortunately, not as lovely as they were.  It closed down a while ago, due to too much competition in the area.  Since then, the new owners have completely refitted the space, with funky exposed brick walls and a light airy feel, which extends to a bright courtyard out the back.

It was a bit of a struggle waiting till lunchtime for my coffee, but I don't do more than one a day and I really wanted to enjoy a nice dine-in coffee with my lunch so I could get a good picture!  (See the sacrifices I make for my readers?  Hehe.)
Latte, Cappuccino - $3.50 each

The coffee was pretty good, although I think there are nicer ones at cafes that concentrate soley on coffee (Espresso 3121, Brother Baba Budan etc).  It seems that cafes these days concentrate on either coffee or their food, and Pillar of Salt falls into the latter category.  It's hard to find a cafe that excells at both food and coffee.  But if you know of one, I would love to hear about it!


My friend ordered the lamb burger with chips.  It was $18 on the menu, but only came up as $16 on the bill, wahey!  I have to admit I was a little skeptical when I saw it, as the burger was quite small, and the chips didn't look crispy - I think it's one big potato slice, fried on either side and then cut into chip shapes - but by all accounts the lamb burger was fabulous!  It had a soft bun, and generous amounts of sauce, feta and rocket.  It looked small, but was a satisfying lunch.
Lamb Burger and Chips - $16

I had to order the tart of the day, which was the item which caught my eye the day before, cooling on the bench.  Apparently they have a different flavour every day; today's was goats cheese, mushroom and herb.  Incidentally I had the exact same flavour in an omelette at a nearby cafe the day before, but this was so much better!
Tart with goats cheese, mushrooms and herbs - $12
The pastry was very buttery and short, with a warm and creamy (Nigella would say baveuse) filling, studded with whole mushrooms and herbs.  I would have liked the herbs to have been more finely chopped, (a mouthful of whole rosemary leaves is no fun), and perhaps a little more goats cheese, but all in all it was delicious!  The massive pile of rocket was lightly dressed, and was a refreshing counterpoint to the rich tart.  I loved it, and now am determined to make one as the veggo option at my Christmas party this year.

Other options at Pillar of Salt include a range of baguettes, rocky road, toasted sandwiches and freshly baked muffins (rhubarb today) in the cabinet, a cooked breakfast menu and other lunches.  Can't wait to go back and try more!

***EDIT***

6/12/2010 - So, as I'd mentioned when I wrote this post, I was very keen to go back to Pillar of Salt and try more food.  I've been back a couple of times now, and here are some thoughts:

  • The Positive: Breakfast savouries in the front cabinet are fabulous!  
    • They have delicious-looking rolls with either bacon or smoked salmon, and they also do extremely cute mini rolls.  These are filled with one slice of tomato, a few spinach leaves, one perfectly poached egg and a spoonful of kassoundi.  I got one for breakfast the other day - only $3.50 and quite tasty, although I found it a bit odd to have a poached egg that was both runny AND cold.
    • Another morning I went in looking for a savoury breakfast, and because none of the rolls had been assembled yet, they made up a toastie for me - actually slicing thick pieces of ham off the bone, and toasting it up with ciabatta bread and cheese.  So nice of them!
  • The Negative: Service was a bit lacking on my subsequent eat-in visit, during a busy weekday lunch.  
    • My friend ordered the same lamb burger as he did on our first visit, and although the chips were better (Matt from Pillar of Salt, by way of Claire, by way of Twitter, has informed me they have a proper deep fryer now), we saw lamb burgers at other tables with more generous servings of chips.  Also, they didn't give us dipping sauce this time, which disappointed my friend because he really liked it the first time we went!
    • As for me, I ordered a chicken baguette... and was given a chicken sandwich!  When I told the waiter it wasn't what I'd ordered, he went to check, then came back and told me they'd run out of chicken baguettes, but had ham baguettes and chicken sandwiches.  Um... ok?  Why wouldn't they have told me this before they made the sandwich?  That way I could have changed my order or accepted the substitution.  And it would have been a total non-issue then.  I was staaarving, so just took the sandwich - and it happened to be delicious - but it just seemed odd the way the whole situation was handled.
 Anyhoo, the food is great, and they're still pretty new so I'm sure these issues will get ironed out.  In the meantime, I'd recommend sticking to takeaway!

Pillar of Salt on Urbanspoon

12 comments:

Niki said...

Apte in Alphington. Great food AND coffee!
Love the sound of that tart - definitely you should do it for Christmas, but not only for the veggos. What about as a starter, done as mini tarts?

Kathryn said...

the burger and tart look good...but those chips...i would have been very disappointed.

Miles said...

Miss Jackson cafe does amazing coffee AND food :)

almostalwaysravenous said...

i wonder whether sometimes its intended to have "a mouthful of whole xxx", though generally not to pplz liking i'd say =P

Hannah said...

Woah, those chips are lame-o! Love the sound of the tart, though... but then again you just have to say "goat cheese" and I'm in.

Also, when I saw the coffees and the generous sprinkling of chocolate powder on top, I knew my dad would love that place :P

My Restaurants Melbourne said...

The photos of the place look so modern!! They must have changed it heaps. I love Richmond for cafes, it is such a prime position to start a business in, but I guess there would be heaps of competition

Dani said...

Also agree with Niki - APTE in Alphington

Sarah said...

Niki - Thanks for the recommendation! Ah, my xmas party isn't going to be a sit-down do - I'm gonna pile all the food on a table and people can help themselves. So I suppose anyone can try some! :)

Kathryn - My friend said they actually tasted ok, but yes, he was disappointed when he saw them.

Miles - Thank-you! I still haven't tried it yet.

Almostalwaysravenous - Lol I doubt it was intentional.

Hannah - Hehe, yeah the cappuccino was pretty nice! I like the old-school cappuccini with choccy powder all over.

Myrestaurantsmelbourne - Yes it looks soo different now! Previously when it was JE's cafe, it was dour and depressing looking, laminate tables etc.

Dani - Thanks for the tip!

xox Sarah

catty said...

This looks great! I am so keeping tabs on your blog for my next visit to Melbourne!

Adrian in Food Rehab said...

You sold me on the tart! Buttery pastry....yes please.

Emily said...

Proud Mary in Collingwood - great coffee and great food.

I agree with others that the chips look lame - so sad! You really need to try the crazily crunchy and delicious chips at Gasometer!

Niki said...

As an aside: I'm impressed by their offerings of savoury breakfasts, and that it's something you seek out. I'm very much a savoury breakfast person - my system absolutely cannot deal with sugars and jam first thing - but so few places do savoury brekkies that aren't a full sit-down eggy affair. More cafe muffins should be savoury muffins to cater for the non-sweet teeth. Bring on the warm cheesy, mustardy, bacony muffin!