Review: Square and Compass, East Melbourne

I’ve been practicing yoga a few times a week for the past couple of months. I wouldn’t call myself proficient by any means – I struggle to get my foot above my knee in tree pose, I faceplant in crow pose, and while most people seem to be able to jump to forward fold from downward-facing dog, I have to walk my way to the top of the mat.

Still, I turn up every week without fail. I practice my breathing. I try to clear my mind and focus on being in the moment. I’ve changed other parts of my life to match the philosophies of yoga practice. I even wake up at 7am on a Saturday morning to go to a 9am yoga class at my yoga studio in the city. As one of the teachers at the studio says, yoga practice is about dedication not proficiency, or, being true to the moment not how long you can hold a pose.

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Attending an early Saturday morning yoga class is sweetened by a brunching afterwards in the city outskirts at cafes like Square and Compass. Run by the same family who own the cafe Mammoth in Armadale, Square and Compass is cut from the same mold – light, airy interiors, a serious concentration on coffee, and a brunch menu that features classics with a modern twist.

Seven Seeds Cappuccino, $4 and Earl Grey Tea, $4.50
Seven Seeds Cappuccino, $4 and Earl Grey Tea, $4.50

We started with some drinks – a Cappuccino for K (coffee from Seven Seeds) and an Earl Grey Tea for myself. K was thankful for his cappuccino to help wake him up after an early start! Tea here is served in a Japanese-style tetsubin cast iron teapot, ensuring that the tea brews evenly and stays warm for longer. Milk is served here with Earl Grey tea (probably all teas), but I would have preferred a wedge of lemon on the side as an option over the milk.

Ayomo Garden Greens cold pressed juice (cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, apple), $8
Ayomo Garden Greens cold pressed juice (cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, apple), $8

I love green juices, though K’s not a big fan. Ayomo‘s cold-pressed juices are always a treat, and the Garden Greens is one of my favourites. It’s always cleansing on the palate, with just enough sweetness from the apple juice to make it more palatable.

Smoked pork croquettes, roast pumpkin, sweet onion puree, crispy sage, poached egg, $19 AUD
Smoked pork croquettes, roast pumpkin, sweet onion puree, crispy sage, poached egg, $19 AUD

K opted for a dish that you wouldn’t find on most cafe brunch menus – Smoked Pork Croquettes with Roast Pumpkin. It’s the type of dish that one might associate more with an evening meal than breakfast.

However once I tasted the different elements of the dish together, I understood why it seemed to work. The rich meatiness of the pork croquettes was reminiscent of salty bacon and with a mouthful of soft sweet roasted pumpkin that imitated a stack of sweet pancakes, this dish is like a reinterpretation of maple syrup and bacon pancakes. The salty, meaty and sweet flavours co-mingle to create something quite special.

Crunchy peanut butter, heirloom tomatoes, salt and pepper peanuts on toast, $15 AUD
Crunchy peanut butter, heirloom tomatoes, salt and pepper peanuts on toast, $15 AUD

I chose the Square and Compass signature dish of Crunchy Peanut Butter on Toast…with the extra special twist of an Heirloom Tomato topping. ‘What!’ I hear you exclaim? ‘Peanut butter and tomato? That’s madness!’ Reader, that was my first reaction too. It’s not until you take your first bite that you understand what a genius combination this really is – one that I actually hope to recreate at home!

The fresh tang and burst of juice from the heirloom tomatoes helps to cut through the palate-sticking residue from the liberal serving of everyone’s childhood favourite Kraft branded crunchy peanut butter. Those with arachibutyrophobia can rejoice, as peanut butter toast will no longer stick to your palate as long you combine it with a tiny heirloom tomato or two.

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The brunch offerings at cafes owned by the Sahely family continue to impress. Like our meal at Mammoth, our brunch at Square and Compass was particularly unique and innovative, looking at key ingredients through a different lens. Our meals were a nod to some favourite childhood breakfasts, but with a firm eye to ‘how can we make it better’?

We’ll continue to visit the Sahely/McBride family cafes for their excellent and innovative food. In fact, keep an eye out for an upcoming review of another of their cafes – Touchwood in Richmond!

Square and Compass is located at 222 Clarendon Street in East Melbourne.

2 thoughts on “Review: Square and Compass, East Melbourne”

  1. Looks like a great cafe – I love the look of the croquettes and pumpkin dish!

    Well done on getting up early for Saturday morning yoga. I’ve been doing yoga on and off for quite a few years now and I still can’t touch my toes, but I try to remind myself that everyone is different and we all have our own journeys, and I’m still benefiting from regular practice!

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