Review: Top Paddock, Richmond

It always takes some time to find your feet at a new job. However skilled you are in your profession, there’s always a learning curve associated with whatever company you’ve moved to – learning their history, key statistics, key customers and vendors, etc. Beyond the professional learning curve, there’s also the awkwardness of trying to judge how you’ll fit into the organisational culture.

In my case it’s about finding the appropriate boundaries – for instance, do people really need to hear about my love for 90s boy bands? Are they interested in me talking about the latest restaurant I went to, or the book I read? Is talking about politics off limits? Almost three months into this new role, I think I’m beginning to find my place in this new job.

I haven’t forgotten my old colleagues though! I catch up regularly with my old colleagues from JDRF who I formed really close friendships with during my four years at the charity. A few of them have flown down to Melbourne in recent weeks, and I’ve delighted in catching up with them over brunch – hearing office gossip, and just catching up on life!

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I caught up with my friend Tanya (check out her type 1 diabetes lifestyle blog The Leveled Life) for brunch at Top Paddock in Richmond recently when she came to Melbourne. It was almost like we were back in the office again, eating our lunch together at the kitchen table and having a good chat and sharing life updates.

Hot Chocolate, $4 AUD
Hot Chocolate, $4 AUD

I got there early and managed to grab a table for two with only a short wait – very rare . I ordered a Hot Chocolate with a pretty demonstration of latte art (those two little love hearts!) while I waited for Tanya to arrive. I’m a big fan of thick and rich hot chocolates that aren’t too sweet…makes dunking a sugary marshmallow into the molten chocolate that much more enjoyable!

Fried egg and bacon roll with tomato relish, $15.50 AUD
Fried egg and bacon roll with tomato relish, $15.50 AUD

Feeling a little worse for wear after a big night out, Tanya chose to have the perfect Aussie hangover cure – an Egg and Bacon Roll. The sunny side-up fried egg was perfectly cooked, with the yolk bursting and running down Tanya’s hands as she picked up the roll. Note to punters, pop the yolk and soak the bread roll in it before you pick it up with your hands!

Coconut chia pudding with Queensland pineapple, raspberries, elderflower syrup and buckwheat crumble, $17 AUD
Coconut chia pudding with Queensland pineapple, raspberries, elderflower syrup and buckwheat crumble, $17 AUD

I chose what ended up being one of the most visually spectacular brunch dishes I’ve ever eaten – a Coconut Chia Pudding replete with pineapple, raspberries, elderflower syrup and buckwheat crumble. I loved the fresh fruity flavours of this breakfast and how they blended with the creaminess of the chia pudding and the crunch of the crumble. It’s a stunning dish, and extremely filling!

A few weeks later when one of K’s ex-colleagues came down to Melbourne with her partner, I suggested that we catch up at Top Paddock again…ostensibly because it was close to a few sites for Melbourne Indesign which they were all going to afterwards, but really I just wanted to go to Top Paddock again!

Cappuccino
Cappuccino

K ordered a Cappuccino to wake him up – he’s been struggling a bit with the long work days after eight months travelling around Europe! Early morning wake-ups on a weekend are torture for a man who claims he needs ten hours of sleep every night. As a result, he unfortunately found the cappuccino to be a bit too weak, and would have preferred a stronger brew for 10am on a Saturday morning.

Daily Special - Waffle
Daily Special – Waffle

Our friend Andrew ordered one of the daily specials – a Milk & Honey Waffle with honeycomb, double cream, oat crumble, cherry gel & raspberries! I’m surprised this waffle hasn’t made it onto the regular menu. Like the chia pudding I had, this had everything right going for it from both a flavour and texture perspective – crisp yet doughy waffle, creamy topping, fruity bursts of sweetness and a crunchy crumble. It’s definitely worth ordering if you ever see it on the specials menu again.

White beans with chipotle, heirloom tomatoes, smoked cheddar, poached egg, baguette and chorizo, $20
White beans with chipotle, heirloom tomatoes, smoked cheddar, poached egg, baguette and chorizo, $20

I chose a savoury option for my second visit to Top Paddock, and went for the White Beans with Chipotle, heirloom tomatoes, smoked cheddar, poached egg, baguette and chorizo. As you mix through the spicy chipotle and tomato sauce through the beans with some melted cheese and runny egg yolk, you create a soul-warming mix that’s perfect for a cold sunny winter’s morning. With crusty toasted baguette dipped into the spicy tomato sauce (and thin and crispy slices of chorizo on the side), it’s like an old-fashioned beans on toast meal but a million times more delicious.

Eggs Benedict: Pork jowl, poached eggs, yuzu compressed apple, maple bacon crumb and bearnaise, $19.50
Eggs Benedict: Pork jowl, poached eggs, yuzu compressed apple, maple bacon crumb and bearnaise, $19.50

K saw the word ‘jowl’ in this dish and couldn’t help himself. He had the Eggs Benedict with pork jowl, poached eggs, yuzu compressed apple, maple bacon crumb and bearnaise sauce. As well as the eggs were poached, the real highlight here was the combination of the rich and meaty pork jowl with the crisp freshness of the apple. Pork and apple really is a timeless combination, and one that’s been used to good effect in this dish.

I pish-poshed cafes like Top Paddock in this previous entry when I extolled the virtues of a local suburban cafe. There’s something to be said for trendy cafes in inner-city locales though. They’re easy to get to for out-of-towners, they offer innovative twists on traditional brunch menus (they have to, to survive in the cafe-rich locales!), and the atmosphere always lends itself to conviviality. Top Paddock is an excellent cafe, and one I’d be happy to return to in future.

Top Paddock is located at 658 Church St, Richmond.

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