Martha Ray’s

Posted on May 6, 2013

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Wow, only one post for the month of April. So much for attempting to maintain the blog in my down time. Shame on me! I have been bad. I’ve been hiding a bit, just because it’s not all that convenient to be on crutches and also I feel like people just look at me for that little bit longer than I like. I know it’s not anything malicious, and it probably is just a projection of my own self consciousness, but I do miss the anonymity of being on 2 feet. To stop being a hermit and in an attempt to deal with this issue, I’ve been making an extra effort to go out during non peak times. Apologies for the lacklustre photos as I was only equipped with a humble phone camera in this case.

It was on a thoroughly random day, some time right between breakfast and lunch that I visited Martha Ray’s (85 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy VIC). I would normally call it brunch, but brunch is purely a weekend indulgence in my books, and this was just a weekday. There was no particular intention to eat there, but we were hungry and it somehow caught our eye. It’s a bit of a contradiction to suggest that Martha Ray’s is eye catching, because it is anything but that. It’s a small place with a narrow frontage and there isn’t even any signage on the exterior. And paradoxically, perhaps it is this reticence that drew our attention to it in the first place.

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The interior is fresh and pleasant looking. The walls are white and pretty bare. The front window faces east and captures plenty of natural sunlight during the morning hours. For some reason the tables and chair remind me bit of a 70s style classroom.

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Coffee here is priced at $3.50 and it’s good.

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The menu is small, limited to only a handful of all day breakfast options and a smaller selection of sandwiches available from 10am onwards. Food wise, we were split. One of us went the breakfast option and the other went for a sandwich order. Breakfast arrived first, it was the shakshuka – single baked egg with peppers, tomatoes and onions ($9.50). It was as tasty as it was pretty. This middle eastern style baked eggs dish is popping up at more and more cafes around town and having sampled more than our fair share, we are confident in saying that this is definitely one of the better ones. Spiked with just enough spices to keep things interesting, it makes for a vibrant start to the day.

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The pork belly baguette ($13) is another menu item that has taken Melbourne by storm in the past couple of years. It wasn’t too far back when people shunned the cut of meat because of its high fat content, but somewhere along the line pork belly has become one of the most stylish cuts on the menu. Now pork belly baguettes are surprisingly easy to find on lunch menus. This version comes with a cabbage and apple coleslaw and an apple soubise. A soubise is a French style onion sauce, this one also incorporates apples. The pork belly was tender and the crackling was well developed, the ‘slaw was nice and crunchy, and the baguette had a good crust, so it was generally a pretty good baguette. The thing I didn’t like about it was the apple soubise. I found it thick, gluggy and bland. But despite its blandness, I found it strangely overpowering at the same time. I just did not like the texture and didn’t find it to go well with the other elements. I ended up scrapping most of the sauce out of the baguette to make it more enjoyable. Perhaps it’s a personal thing, but that soubise did not agree with me or my dining companion.

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Overall Martha Ray’s provided a fairly good experience. The coffee and food here is quite decent and reasonably priced. It’s just a small team that run the show, but they’re pretty friendly and efficient. If I still lived in Fitzroy, I can imagine this being the type of venue I’d return to for coffee dates.

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