Monday, October 8, 2012

Tree of Us

The North side of Richmond is quiet compared to Bridge St in terms of both foot traffic and good cafes, but that hasn't deterred newcomers to the scene, Tree of Us, from constructing a well-thought out cafe experience. We were lucky enough to be invited to check it out on a quiet Saturday morning  three weeks after opening, and really enjoyed our visit there. 

Tree of Us
For a bit of background, Tree of Us is the project of three friends, Christian, Shaun and Anna. Christian and Shaun have known each other since primary school, down in the Mornington Peninsula, and Anna they met in Spain. Shaun is head-chef here, and has had plenty of experience in the industry having worked at both Rockpool and Montalto. The food was described as Modern Australian with French Influences by Christian, but I'd rather describe it as intriguing but simple flavours using fresh ingredients that are free range and organic. The breakfast, lunch and dinner menus weren't extensive, but there seemed to be enough variety to keep everyone happy.  

The display case was tempting me to have dessert even before I'd had a chance to look at the menu. It was unsurprising to find out later that this selection of delicacies is the result of hard work by Shaun's mum (the ability to cook must run in the family).

Dessert & Sandwich Cabinet
We were settled quickly with coffee, although it doesn't seem like this was due to preferential treatment; everyone seemed to get their coffees in record time due to the efficiency of the barista. 

Long Black
The coffee itself was also fairly good, and sourced from Atomica Roasters in nearby Brunswick. The trend of sourcing things locally also extends to decor; inside Shaun's mum is responsible for some of the art, while  local artist Putospaint is responsible for the decoration on the outside walls. 

Tree of Us
Supposedly the acorn in the centre was originally meant to be a coffee bean, but Mr Putospaint decided an acorn had better visual appeal. There were no questions on what the second picture should have been.

Tree of Us
Moving back inside, it took me a few minutes to realise that I was sitting on an old Church pew. 
Church Pews
Where do they get this stuff? It's a pretty nifty idea though. The man in this photo was happily reading his book the entire time we were there - makes me wish that I had a Saturday morning to while away in a cozy cafe with a good coffee and chilled-out music.

As intriguing as the surroundings are though, we were at Tree of Us for breakfast, and while the usual bread and egg-based options were available, I wanted to try something different. The organic lentil, mushrooms, and poached egg stack, with fresh herb salad fit the bill perfectly.

Organic Lentil, Mushrooms, and Poached Egg Stack, with Fresh Herb Salad
The lentils were cooked perfectly, retaining some of their crunch and offset the earthiness of the mixed mushrooms. The sauce (which I think was caramelised balsamic mixture) added occasional bursts of extra flavour to the dish. My favourite part of the dish isn't hard to guess though:

Organic Lentil, Mushrooms, and Poached Egg Stack, with Fresh Herb Salad
Yep, the runny centres of the poached eggs. I wouldn't qualify the small amount of herbs as a 'salad' but in hindsight, it was the perfect amount of greens for this dish. 

M went for the omelette with mushrooms, spinach, goat's cheese and thyme, which smelt brilliant on arrival.
Omelette with Mushrooms, Spinach, Goat's Cheese and Thyme
The omelette was soft, light and fluffy, and the goat's cheese made for a deliciously creamy filling. The spinach and mushrooms added extra flavour, texture and nutrients too. A single slice of toasted, seeded sourdough completed the dish and made it perfectly portioned for breakfast.

Apple, Carrot, Ginger and Beetroot Juice
We also received a taste test of the freshly pressed apple, carrot, ginger and beetroot juice which was refreshing and revitalising. I love ginger in my juices and was considering ordering a full-sized one. Similarly, we got a taste of Oatmeal and Caramel slice which was rich and sweet, although ordering a full-sized one of these would have sent me on a sugar high.

Oatmeal and Caramel Slice
Thanks again to Christian, Shaun and Anna for their excellent food and hospitality. We had a great morning at Tree of Us. The staff are friendly and efficient, and most importantly, are passionate about what they do; serving sustainable and quality food. The flavours are fresh and simple, but addictive. The price-point is nothing to argue about either with dishes being of a decent size and reasonably priced. 

We had no criticisms of the cafe, although I'm curious to see how they deal with a larger crowd once word gets out. There are plans to add an outdoor area out the back, and perhaps to extend the staff roll, but it'll be interesting to see how this cafe develops in the next few months. Coming back for lunch or dinner definitely seems like a good idea. 

We dined as guests of Tree of Us.

Tree of Us
71 Church St, Richmond
Sun-Wed 730am-4pm, Thu-Sat 730am-11pm

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