Sunday, July 12, 2009

Any Advances: Auction Rooms- North Melbourne (Review)

I'm a big fan of slavage. 
Taking something old and disused and giving it a second life. It could be a bottle, a jar, perhaps a previously loved jumper. 
Or like the Auction Rooms, it could be a building. 
Exactly as the name suggests the 'new' Auction Rooms (for dining) are the 'old' auction rooms (for auctions) of North Melbourne- the WB Ellis Auction House to be precise. The lovely thing about salvage in this case is that there's plenty of reference to the original purpose of the buildings and despite modern fit-outs, much of the charm and romance of the auction house remains. 
It's all in the details; Heinz pea & ham soup tins for sugar bowls, signs for valuers posted on the walls, the exposed brickwork and beams of the warehouse structure, a wooden gavel by the till. It's made more obvious again by dishes like 'the opening bid' listed on the menu. But despite the touches of nostalgia nodding to the buildings heritage, it's not all backwards glances and reverie. The menu is certainly not out of touch and the creative new aspects like PVC tubing chandeliers, a 'roof' of suspended milk crates in the back courtyard and the addition of modern lead-light details on the huge front windows, pull this baby squarely into the now. Ok, so you get it. It's a great space... but what about lot no. 20... the food?       
Brunch is the winner in my opinion here. Anyone brave enough to offer brains and sweetmeats gets my vote. But the house-made muesli is a great option too with a huge dollop of vanilla yogurt and poached fruits. Maybe a fishy start to your day is in order with sardine crostini and fennel sauerkraut? Or you could ease into the morning with poached eggs, avocado and ricotta on sourdough, tiddied up with fresh mint and chili. Brunch can easily roll-on-into lunch and afternoon beers here, with drinks on offer from bubbly to coopers.  
Don't forget to ask what the coffee of the day is and keep an eye on the boards by the retro-red-small-batch-coffee-roaster to see what the roasting team's been up to.
There's a a siphon coffee of the day on offer too, and the bong like contraption that brews it is great fun if you like your coffee a little more intriguing than most. It certainly beats a flat white with one. 
True you can feel a little lost here on weekends when the 'waiting for a table' and the 'waiting to pay' queues get mixed up- but any of the passing staff will be happy to point you in the right direction and throw in a smile for free. Yeah there can be a wait on Saturday mornings, but with so much visual stimulation, you hardly notice the time fly by.     
So pace the wooden floors and make the closing bid on that corner booth or seat by the window. 

Address: 103-107 Errol Street, North Melb, 3061
Phone: (03) 9326 7749
Mon-Wed 7:30am-4pm, 
Thurs & Fri 7:30am-10pm, 
Sat 8am-10pm and 
Sun 8am-4pm

1 comment:

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge said...

I love this place, I must admit though, I've only ever been at night so the atmosphere is a littler different. Great food and even better coffee though!