Bayte review: Breakfast Out

Published 26 April 2013
View original review at Breakfast Out


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.