Top Paddock, Richmond

12/23/2015 , , 0 Comments

Top Paddock is quite a popular cafe in the Richmond area on Church St, about a ten minute walk from East Richmond Station and easily accessible by trams 78 and 79. I decided to visit this cafe after it was voted the Best New Cafe of 2013 by The Age's Good Food Guide and a recommendation from a friend, and was quite happy with my experience there. 

My first impression of the cafe was that it has a very modern setting to it, with the wide open space and large windows allowing for plenty of natural light to enter. There weren't many decorations hung up on the walls apart from a few lights here and there, but there were a lot of plants around the cafe, giving it a very peaceful, natural atmosphere. I was surprised at how big the cafe is, as from the exterior you can't really tell; there's lots of communal tables, tables for groups of two to four, and marble tables for larger groups of people. The music however was quite loud, and combined with all the chatter from the packed cafe, meant you had to raise your voice slightly to talk to people next to you, when there was a lot of people there. 

There's a good range of breakfast and lunch menu items to choose from, as well as specials of the day and a small range of muffins and pastries at the front counter. We decided on sharing a sweet and savoury dish; the Blueberry and Ricotta Hotcakes ($17) and the Gin and Lime cured ocean trout fillet ($20), and also got a skinny ice latte and orange juice ($6 each). The skinny ice latte had the option of coming with ice cream on top, and was quite a good cold drink for a hot day like today. The orange juice was refreshing with good orange flavour; a little sweet when you had it by itself but went well with the meal.

The hotcakes are one of the most popular dishes at Top Paddock, and also comes with berries, organic maple, seeds and double cream. The portion was extremely generous for the price, and the hotcake itself was quite thick, though surprisingly light. However, because of the double cream, butter and organic maple on the top of the hotcake, it felt really rich, and would definitely be too heavy for one person to eat themselves, in my opinion. Even between two of us, we got a bit sick of it and left about a quarter of it at the end. The blueberries, strawberries and blackberries did help to balance out the sweetness with its acidic flavours, and the pumpkin seeds added texture with its crunch, but was still overpowered by the richness. The dish also came with edible flowers on the side, which when bitten into, had a subtle floral taste to it, which was quite nice and not something that I'd had before. 

The ocean trout dish came with pickled baby beetroot, potato galette, poached eggs, leaves, goats curd and toast. The trout was done perfectly; slightly raw in the middle and cooked on the outside. The skin had a good crispy skin that contrasted well to the soft fillet, though a little bit crispier would've been better. The different components of the dish are all meant to be eaten together so you have a bit of each ingredient in each bite, and get a variety of textures and flavours. The goats curd was quite strong in flavour by itself, but went surprisingly well with the trout. The baby beetroot was well cooked in that you could cut into it easily, and had a slightly sweet flavour to it that complemented the other savoury flavours well. The potato galette is essentially thin slices of potato piled on top of each other, with the top layer having a slight crunch to it. There's not much seasoning to it, but again, with everything else tasted really good and added texture. The poached eggs were done well, one with the egg yolk oozing out and one that was slightly more cooked and not as runny. The piece of toast that came with the dish acted as the 'base', to round out all the different elements and gave each bite a nice finish. The crust wasn't too hard to bite or cut into unlike the bread in a lot of cafes which was good, and the bread itself was lovely and soft. 

From both of the dishes we ordered as well as looking at dishes brought out to other tables, you could tell that a lot of effort had been put into making the presentation look good, not just have the food tasting great. This level of detail is not something you always see in cafes, and made our experience even more enjoyable. The service was also pretty good; we only had to wait about ten minutes for a table and our food came in about fifteen minutes. The staff came to ask us multiple times if we wanted drinks and were ready to order. 

I would definitely recommend coming to Top Paddock, as apart from a pleasant dining experience with the atmosphere and setting, there's also a good range of items on the menu you might not necessarily expect to see. The portions are all very good for the prices they are set at, and do leave you feeling quite full at the end of the meal. 

On a side note, it has been one year to the day since I started up this blog! I never would've have thought that I'd receive such support for it- even now I can't quite comprehend that this blog has managed to hit 13.7k plus views in the spam of twelve months, from readers all over the world. It really means a lot to me that there are people out there that read my weekly food posts, and actually having some of you going to places based on my recommendations!

As always, feel free to leave a comment below, or follow me on Facebook or Instagram. I know I don't really update the Facebook page much, but I'll definitely try and make more effort to do so. Here's to another year of food adventures!

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