Merchants Guild, East Bentleigh

12/23/2015 , 0 Comments

Merchants Guild is a popular cafe in East Bentleigh best known for its coffees and teas, and a good range of breakfast and lunch dishes. It's probably easiest to access by car, though you can also take the 703 bus towards Blackburn.

We went at about 1pm on a Sunday and there was quite a bit of a wait for a table inside, so we decided to sit outside as the weather wasn't too bad. It was probably better sitting outside as when we went inside to pay, it was a little noisy with all the customers. As it was such a busy place, there was a significant wait for ordering and for our food to come, though the staff did mention this to us.

The menu at Merchants Guild isn't split into breakfast or lunch specifically, and is served all day. There's a really extensive range of drinks, in particular teas, and the prices are all very reasonable. One of my friends got a cappuccino ($3.80) and the other a chai ($5), and I got a freshly squeezed OJ ($7.50). Foodwise, two of my friends got the Super Salad ($19), one the Spicy Mississippi Chicken ($19, and I got the Pork and Fennel Sausage special ($18).

The chai latte consisted of spices, tea, honey and ginger, and was a very enjoyable drink that wasn't too sweet. You could really taste the cinnamon and nutmeg in it, but it wasn't overpowering at all. The cappuccino was average, and would've been good to have more chocolate powder on it. The orange juice was quite overpriced and felt watered down, with not a very fruity or orange-y flavour.

The Super Salad consisted of brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, baby beetroot, broccoli, nut and seeds topped with a tahini yoghurt and black rice popcorn. There was also the option to have the dish with poached chicken for $3 extra, which one of my friends went with. The salad was really fresh and succinct, with a slightly tangy flavour from the yoghurt and a good crunch from the nuts. The flavours of the dish really complimented each other, and there was a good portion of each element in the dish. The chicken added some protein and was good in making you feel more full, and was cooked perfectly.

The Spicy Chicken dish came with a creole coleslaw of cabbage, fennel, apple and purple carrots. It wasn't particularly spicy, though my friend who ordered the dish is quite good at handling spicy food. The chicken itself had a crumbly and crispy thin skin on the outside, but was soft and tender on the inside. The coleslaw went really well with the chicken and had a good combination of flavours and textures, in particular the apple which made it a little sweeter.

The Pork and Fennel sausage dish came with poached eggs on sourdough toast, and was served with mozzarella and burnt onion. The dish was a generous portion and made you feel surprisingly full, even though it didn't look like there was much. The eggs were cooked perfectly, with the egg yolk oozing out when cut into. It was really good to have the rocket without any dressing on the dish, as it helped to balance out the heavier flavours and oils from the sausage and the burnt onion. The mozzarella also went really well with the rest of the dish for a slightly chewy and elasticity texture, with a slight hint of acidity from the balsamic vinegar drizzled on top.

Given the portions of food, the pricing at Merchants Guild was very reasonable. As we sat outside, I didn't get to experience the atmosphere and ambience of the interior, though I did notice there weren't many decorations up except for the lights. Worth visiting if you're in the area, but be prepared for quite a long wait for food, especially if you're in a group of three or more people.

Ambience: 7/10
Service: 6.5/10
Food: 8/10
Price: 8/10

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