Scarvelli Cafe, Balwyn

Scarvelli Cafe is a small cafe in Balwyn, easily accessible by tram 109. It prides itself on the use of locally sourced produce, in particular from the Swan Bay farm that is owned by the same people. The cafe have actually release their own recipe book; I was lucky enough to have a quick flip through it when I visited, and it felt like very informative with the details on ingredients and the background on the cafe and farm. You could tell a lot of heart had been put into the recipe book, and the effort taken to not only provide recipes ideas for people, but also to inform and educate.

The darker wooden decor contrasts with the white walls and bright lights, and the atmosphere feels cosy and warm, with chatter from the customers mixed with the sounds from the kitchen as well as coffee being made in the front area. Service was pretty good, with our food coming out quite quick, and friendly, attentive staff.

There's a seasonal breakfast and lunch menu at Scarvelli, though my friends and I all went with lunch menu options when we visited. The dishes we ordered were the confit chicken leg ($19.50), the lamb backstrap ($18.50) and the beef brisket burger ($21). We also ordered a capp and latte, both of which was enjoyable; not too strong with a good amount of froth.

The Milawa confit chicken dish was served with a tarragon potato anna, wilted spinach and a braising jus. The chicken itself was very soft and tender, falling off the bone when cut into, though quite salty. The spinach underneath the chicken was also quite salty due to the jus, but this was somewhat balanced out by the potato anna (slices of potato layered on top of each other) that had a lighter, peppery taste to it. For the most part this was an enjoyable dish, though the portion felt a little small and I did have to drink quite a bit of water due to the saltiness.

The rosemary Swan Bay lamb backstrap came with tzatziki, garlic tomato, pickled cucumber, braised baby gem lettuce and feta, and was served on grilled flatbread. The lamb was also very soft and tender, with a light rosemary flavour to it that was really enjoyable. The pickled cucumber and lettuce contrasted well with the lamb, and the feta added flavour, melting into the lamb itself perfectly. The flatbread was lightly grilled and tasted quite fresh, and brought the whole dish together nicely.

The beef brisket burger came with red onion and celeriac remoulade (french style aioli with celeriac) on a brioche bun, with a side of chips. The brioche bun was slightly crispy and crackly when bit into, though not oily which was really good. The beef, which is also from Swan Bay and braised for 12 hours, was very tender and broke apart easily. However, it too was a little salty, and my friend too found that she had to keep drinking water. The beef portion was quite generous, though its flavours overpowered the red onion and celeriac remoulade quite a bit, hence the saltiness really coming through. You could taste the texture of the other elements of the dish, but not so much the flavour itself. The portion was good though, and the chips were crunchy and delicious.

We also got to try a dark chocolate and orange muffin; they have quite a few baked goods on display at the counter in the front of the cafe. The muffin was fresh with little bits of fruit and sultanas throughout, combining with the dark chocolate for a healthy yet yummy snack. It was a little on the dry side though, and would've been better if it was a bit more moist.

Overall it was a good experience at Scarvelli Cafe; a cute and cosy cafe worth visiting if you're in the area.

Ambience: 8/10
Service: 8/10
Food: 7.5/10
Price: $$

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