Providence Cafe Carlton is the latest venture from Melbourne hospitality duo Elena and Michael Tan (Hero Subs, Reading Room Cafe, The Grain Store). Located just down the road from the Carlton Farmer’s Market, Providence draws inspiration from the philosophy that underpins these markets – supporting farmers from around Victoria by sourcing the best quality seasonal produce they can find and building relationships with the farmers and producers. I was invited to attend a preview breakfast event at Providence in advance of the official launch on 6 October.
The space is located at the base of Australian Unity’s new Rathdowne Place development. It’s very open and filled with natural sunlight. There’s a small range of produce available to purchase and some cafe items such as cakes and sandwiches to take away.
Breakfast Smoothie (Almond Milk, Blueberries, Banana, Oats, Dates)
Samples of some of the menu items were brought out for those in attendance to try. The food is simple and honest, with the ingredients being the focus. The breakfast smoothie was tasty and not too thick or sweet.
Blood Orange Breakfast Spritzer
The blood orange breakfast spritzer was what the description suggested. Freshly squeezed blood oranges with lightly carbonated water.
The La Marzocco espresso machine pumps out coffees using a blend from Brunswick small batch roaster Code Black. I’m a big fan of Code Black and often use their beans at home so was glad to see them being used here. Unsurprisingly, the coffee was spot on.
Smoked Trout (Bubble and Squeak Potatoes, Gamze Hot Smoked Trout & Herbs, Crunchy/Creamy Patties, Poached Eggs)
I really enjoyed this dish. Good quality eggs make all the difference with a dish like this and these were poached just right and were nice and gooey and orange. All the other ingredients combined really well together.
Breakfast Salad (Grilled Barham Avocados, Sticky Ham Hock, Leaves, Peas, Coats Curd, Toasted Flat Bread)
This is my kind of salad. The avocado and ham hock were the standouts here. The avocados had a good, firm texture and the sticky ham was delicious.
Egg & Gamze Bacon Pie With Tomato Chutney & Leaves
These pies were really rich. The filling was full of flavour and the pastry was thick, butter and flaky. Without a doubt the most indulgent thing that I ate here.
Pumpkin & Lentil Fritters (Aromatic Spiced Fritters with Chilli Tomato Pickle, Coconut Yoghurt & Leaves)
The pumpkin and lentil fritters were the only thing that didn’t really hit the spot for me. The flavours were a bit muddled and the fritters were a bit too dense.
Breakfast Berry Clafoutis (Spring Berries, Toasted Almonds, Gundowring Rhubarb Ice Cream)
I was really happy with the sweet option. The clafoutis (baked pancake is a good description) had a nice soft texture, the spring berries were delicious and the ice cream was really creamy and very tasty. A really great dessert that screamed “spring” and was very appropriate on the sunny, warm day.
Owners Elena and Michael are clearly passionate about what they are trying to achieve with Providence, and discussed what it was all about with us.
Some of the producers who supply Providence were in attendance and spoke to us about their produce and philosophy. It was really great to hear from the people who are involved at the source and hear their genuine passion for what they do. The move towards more natural produce, seasonality and in general a desire to know what goes into our mouths can sometimes seem like some recent “inner city trend” but it of course goes a lot further than that. Hearing those who actually make the products, and have been in some cases for decades, talk with such passion about constantly striving to be better was great.
Felix Gamze from Gamze Smokehouse.
James Crooke from Gundowring Finest Ice Cream.
Ken Dugan from Cockatoo Grove Olive Oil.
I was impressed by the food at Providence, but even more impressed by the real commitment to supporting local farmers and using their knowledge and skill to help drive what the cafe does. Head chef Cate Hardman has been given free reign to work with the producers on the menu which will constantly evolve depending on what ingredients are best at any given time of year. A good philosophy backed up by simple, honest food.
Providence Cafe Carlton
497 Rathdowne Street
Mon – Sun: 7:30pm to 3:15pm