Third Wave Cafe, Prahran

A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by Third Wave to try out their new cafe in Prahran, and finally got around to doing so last week. The cafe is located in the heart of Prahran near Prahran Central, and is easily accessible by tram 72 or a five to ten minute walk from Prahran station. 

My initial impression of the cafe was how bright and spacious it looked, despite the fact it was structured in a more rectangular size rather than the usual square open space. The large windows along one side allowed for lots of natural light to stream through, and there was also lots of lighting in the interior. The decor of the cafe is modern, and gives a comfortable feeling with the different assortments of seats, plant designs on the wall and the soft sounds of Spanish music in the background. The service was great; we didn't have to wait very long for our food, and the staff were friendly and happy to give us suggestions. One particular thing that I thought was great about the service was that because we had ordered two main dishes, the staff member suggested that one be brought out before the other, so that one didn't get cold as we were eating the other, which I felt was a very thoughtful gesture.

The menu of Third Wave is quite extensive, with a range of both breakfast and lunch dishes, as well as a Russian Specials section and some American inspired dishes. As I have never tried Russian cuisine before, I thought this would be the perfect chance to try it out. Between two of us, we decided on the Russian Sampler Plate, which gave us a range of dishes ($26.90), and also one of the breakfast specials, the Texan Fry Up ($18.40).

The sampler plate consisted of a Russian salad, a mushroom and a meat blintz, a bowl of meat and potato dumplings, and two syrnikis. The Russian salad consisted of potatoes, chicken, carrots, eggs, pickles and peas, and was mixed with mayonnaise. Pickles aren't something that I normally associate with salads, but this went surprisingly well with the rest of the dish, even for someone like me who isn't the biggest fan of them. The salad was quite light, and was a good balance to the rest of the heavier, meaty components of the dish. 

Blintz is a thin type of pancake that is similar to a crepe, with fillings that can be either sweet or savoury. All the blintzes at Third Wave are of the savoury option, and the two that came with our dish were the minced meat and mushroom ones. The mushroom blintz was probably my favourite dish of the whole day, as you could taste the natural sweetness of the mushroom, as well as the savoury sauce that ensured it didn't become too dry. It was a very light dish, and left me wanting to order a whole plate of it! The minced meat one however, was quite salty in taste, but as the portion wasn't very big, was an okay dish. 

The Russian dumplings are slightly different to Asian style dumplings in that the skin is a lot thicker, and the shape and size is smaller and rounder. Also, the dumplings are quite compact and filled, whereas Asian dumplings are wrapped looser, and you often get the soup inside as well. The pork filling inside the dumpling was quite dense but not dry, and the potato was of a lovely creamy mash consistency. Both went quite well with the sour cream and rosemary on the side, but without it, they were a bit bland.

Syrniki is a savoury Russian pancake that is fried and served with sour cream and jam. When cut into, the pancake looked quite dense and had a cake-like texture, but upon tasting it, it was more like a potato mash that wasn't as smooth in texture. We were suggested by the staff to have the pancakes with either the sour cream or blueberry jam, but we found that it tasted best when you had both on the pancake. There was quite a strong almond taste to the pancakes, that came through even with the sour cream and blueberry jam. The pancakes smelt absolutely deliciously - like a fresh pastry smell - when it first arrived, but the taste itself wasn't as good as we thought, which was a little disappointing. 

Overall, I quite enjoyed this dish as it allowed me to try a little bit of several other menu items, and I could then order the ones I liked, the next time I came. I felt that it was a little on the pricey side, but would be good to share between a few people.

The Texas Fry Up consisted of slow smoked brisket, pan fried with Kiefler potatoes and butter mushrooms in a house made spicy BBQ sauce, topped with a poached egg and served on a bed of roasted vegetables. This was a very hearty dish and for the price, the portion was very generous. However, it's also quite a heavy dish that has very strong flavours, and might be a bit much to order as your first meal of the day. The beef itself was quite dry if you ate it without the fat, but was full of flavour. The butter mushrooms were very well done, and you could distinguish between the sweetness from the BBQ sauce and the natural sweetness from the vegetable themselves. The Kiefler potatoes felt a little undercooked, but had a good crispy skin, and also went well with the sauce. The house made BBQ was quite peppery, and my friend and I both felt the ingredients didn't really need the extra pot of sauce that came with it, as it was flavoursome enough by itself. The poached egg was cooked perfectly, with the egg yolk oozing out. Our tomatoes however, were extremely sour, even when eaten with the other elements of the dish. The dish also had sesame seed and spring onion as garnish on top, adding a slight asian twist to it. 

Drinks wise, my friend ordered a skinny latte, which she enjoyed immensely, as there was good flavours, and it wasn't too strong. A little feature of the coffees at Third Wave is that they all come with a little meringue on the side that tasted very sweet and cinnamon-y, and was gooey and chewy in the middle. It went well with the coffee, and was a nice little touch. I ordered an orange juice that had good fruity flavour, and wasn't too watery. It was light, and went well especially with the heavy Texan dish we ordered.

I'd definitely like to visit this cafe again and try some of their other breakfast and lunch dishes, as there is vast range of both the more traditional dishes as well as those you wouldn't normally think of choosing. In particular, the Russian specials are a big plus, as they are not very common in Melbourne cafes. A big thank you to Greg and the Third Wave team for having us, it was a very enjoyable experience. 

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