Bayte review: Breakfast Out

Published 26 April 2013
View original review at Breakfast Out

Bayte_0004

Beyond breakfast

Baked eggs and Bircher and BLATs, oh my! Writing breakfast reviews is great, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it can get a little same-y. As a long-time resident of Melbourne’s inner north, I’m all too familiar with cafes trying to out-cool each other in the style stakes at the expense of changing up their menus. Sometimes you just want something bloody good to eat that you haven’t tried a million times before.

Bayte opened opposite the Tote in Collingwood just in time to drag me out of my breakfast doldrums. Run by chef-owner Julie Touma, the Middle Eastern-inspired eatery is a welcome change from the cafe norm around these parts. The service is friendly and informative, and the split-level space a nice mix of indoor/outdoor and traditional/communal dining, but it’s the food that’s the real star here.

If you’re indecisive (or greedy) like me, order the breakfast mezze for one or two people ($19/33) and treat yourself to a generous selection of Lebanese cheeses, sumac spiced fried eggs, baba ghanoush, olives, lamb kafta, pumpkin kibbe and house-made charred flatbread. I was intrigued by the sound of the carob and tahini caramel spread, so the very obliging waitstaff included a scoop of it with my mezze. The delicious concoction teeters on the edge of sweet and savoury, almost like a richer and infinitively tastier version of Marmite. I’d happily take home a jar of it.

Another memorable dish is the cold pearl barley porridge ($11.50). The grain is soaked in peach juice to creamy, pea-sized perfection, then served with honeyed labne, spiced poached peaches, fresh dates and toasted almonds. It sounds like a sweet overload but it isn’t. Just like the tahini spread, there is a fine balance at play here, with sweet bursts of labne and dates breaking up an otherwise surprisingly savoury porridge. All in all, it’s a gorgeous, summery alternative to the classic Bircher muesli.

At the time of writing, Bayte is waiting on council permission to open for dinner. However, a liquor license is already in hand and being used to great effect, with a good selection of wines, beers and traditional Lebanese spirits as well as … wait for it … breakfast cocktails (all $13). Go the traditional route with a bloody mary or espresso martini, or try something new like a pomegranate gin sling or the royal tea—a martini-style delight made with gin, earl grey tea, rosewater and lemon juice.

I’ve been to Bayte a couple of times now and it’s been getting busier and busier, thanks to rapturous word-of-mouth from locals and equally enthusiastic plugs from the press. Get out of your comfort zone and into some Middle Eastern breakfast feasting now, while you still can.

Advertisements