Shanklin Cafe, Hawthorn East

Recently, I was lucky enough to receive an invite to Shanklin Cafe for brunch, a cute cafe located on Tooroonga Road in the quiet area of Hawthorn East. The cafe is a short walk from trams 70 and 75, and there's plenty of parking on the side streets as well. I had actually been to the cafe earlier this year and really enjoyed the experience, and this time was no different!

The cafe itself is cosy and spacious, split into the indoor area, the 'sunroom' that has heaters and a white covering that allows the natural light to enter, as well as seats at the front of the cafe itself. It was extremely busy and bustling with customers on the Sunday afternoon around 1pm when we went, which is the norm on a weekend for Shanklin cafe. The interior of the cafe has a warm colour palette; soft brown coloured bricks line the wall behind the counter, and the ceiling and other walls are also a light wooden tone that give the whole cafe a comfortable atmosphere.

The dishes we ordered were the Eggs and Shanklin ($22), the Baked Eggs Shakshuka ($22) and the Grilled Salmon Special. Drinks wise we also ordered a soy latte ($4.50) and hot chocolate ($4.50); the soy latte had a good balance of coffee to soy, and wasn't too creamy. The hot chocolate had just the right amount of sweetness to it - I do like my hot chocolates quite sweet though! - and was also creamy but not too thick. The service was really great, with our food coming out in ten minutes despite the cafe being completely full, and the staff were friendly and attentive.

The Eggs and Shanklin is a signature dish at Shanklin Cafe, and consists of scrambled eggs with fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, spring onion, wilted spinach and mint, with a side of chorizo. The dish was an extremely large portion and almost like having a big breafkast dish, so would be really great for when you're feeling really hungry. The eggs themselves were fluffy and smooth, served on a bed of spinach leaves on top of two pieces of toast. The bread wasn't toasted so did get a bit soggy towards the end and I would've like more cherry tomatoes - the acidity and freshness balanced out the heavy flavours of the dish really well - but overally a really enjoyable dish. The use of thinner slices of chorizo went just right with each bite of egg, spinach, herbs and bread, and there was also the option of getting bacon as a side instead.

The Baked Eggs Shakshuka consisted of red peppers, cherry tomatoes, chorizo and goats cheese, and was served with two pieces of toasted sourdough and butter on side. There's also a vegetarian option available that comes with mushrooms instead of the chorizo. The portion for this was also great, with full pieces of chorizo as opposed to a dusting on the top or small cubes like at some other places, and the goats cheese scattered in small pieces melted into the dish really well. The eggs were cooked perfectly, with the yolk oozing out when cut into (even twenty minutes after we started eating), and the rest of the tomato-y and red pepper flavours came through really nicely in the stew like shakshuka, which was perfect for dipping the bread into.

The Grilled Salmon special came in a lemon and caper sauce, with beetroot hummus and grilled asparagus, and a cilatro garnish. The dish was light and refreshing, and not too large a portion. The salmon itself was extremely soft and broke apart with a fork, but still had the crispy skin on the top. The use of the lemon and caper sauce instead of a lemon wedge that you'd usually get with salmon dishes was a really nice touch, and I felt that it allowed the citrus flavours to come through a lot stronger. The beetroot hummus added texture to the dish with the graininess, and the asparagus had a lovely crunch to it.

For dessert, we also got a chai vanilla honey custard cake to share, which had a really strong chai flavour to it and sweetness from both the vanilla and honey. The cake itself was lovely and moist, and the custard on top brought it together really nicely. It was quite sweet, but not to the point of overpowering, and went really well with the coffees we ordered.

A big thank you to Francis for the invite, and the rest of team for making our experience so enjoyable. Would defintiely recommend visitng Shanklin Cafe if you're in the area, a cute little cafe tucked away in the suburbs with some great food.

Ambience: 8.5/10
Service: 8.5/10
Food: 8.5/10

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