With a fabulous courtyard out the back, good coffee and a vibrant All Day Menu sprinkled with Asian-inspired intrigue, Mr Hendricks is a great spot for lunch. Or even for a cheeky glass of Prosecco and a bowl of Rosemary Chips!
Location: 469 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn, VIC 3103 Ph: (03) 9078 6619
I’d forgotten how welcoming the garden courtyard at the back of Mr Hendricks cafe is on a sunny lunchtime. But then it had been a long time between visits – due largely to Covid lockdowns.
Thankfully, my return to this fashionable Balwyn cafe coincided with sunshine, and a reminder that Spring was hopefully just around the corner.
Apart from decent weather actually making us want to sit outside, the internal area of Mr Hendricks is pretty dinky. What’s more, it can get quite noisy when busy. This means that the attractive wooden-decked space out the back is the obvious place to dine.
Though it does make me wonder how they cope when it’s raining and everyone wants to huddle indoors?
Oh well. Such issues were happily irrelevant on this particular day.
And one thing’s for sure. As long as it’s dry, you shouldn’t get cold dining al fresco at Mr Hendricks. There are a number of gas burners dotted around the tables and everyone eating looked comfortably cozy – even when the clouds came over.
Mr Hendricks serves a popular breakfast-into-lunch menu of familiar favourites and personalised classics.
The blurb on their website speaks of ‘French fare with a distinctly Australian twist.’ Mm. Maybe. But when we visited, the food lent more obviously towards the flavours and techniques of Asian cookery. And believe me – that’s not a criticism.
The stand-out dish of the day was the Braised Pork Belly Bao with Radicchio, Pickle Onion,Peanut Crumb, Charcoal Green & Smoky Chipotle Mayo ($24.50).
It arrived as three cloud-soft bao buns, generously stuffed with meltingly tender slow-cooked pork belly. The juicy meat was sweet and rich with subtle hints of a hoisin sauce flavours. The bitter radicchio contrasted perfectly with the pork and the crushed peanuts sprinkled on top gave another dimension to both the overall taste, and texture, of the dish.
Optimistically, I had planned to take one of my bao home for later in the afternoon. No chance. I polished them off without a second’s hesitation.
Do you have family member or friend that is a shocker to buy presents for? Check out our Gift Ideas for some inspiration.
If you’re tired of the usual Eggs Benedict that crops up on brunch lists across Australia, head down to Mr Hendricks. Their take on this cafe staple is a Unagi Benedict ($27.50). Featuring Terriyaki Eel, Home Made Hash, Edamame, Char Corn and the heady combination of Miso Hollandaise & Truffle Dressing it’s a brave Japanese-inspired dish. It’s also totally delicious.
Of course, some dishes are best left more or less in their original form. The Mushroom Scramble ($23.50) takes fresh eggs and cooks them into soft curds, then plates them with Feta, Bacon, Chilli, Mushroom Fricassee, Sourdough Toast & Fried Shallots.
Whilst the egg, chilli and mushroom combo was lovely, we pondered why so many cafes favour sourdough bread for their toast. Yes, it tastes great, but it so often becomes too hard at the edges to truly enjoy when toasted.
We returned to the influence of South East Asia with the Southern Fried Chicken Burger ($25.50). It came as a gnarly piece of chicken, with Cabbage & Carrot Salad, Cheese, Pickled Cucumber & Sriracha Mayonnaise. My dining companion had been hoping for a bit more heat in her mayo and found the meat a little dry in places. That said, the accompanying Rosemary Chips were a winner.
To finish, we ordered a round of coffees, all of which were smooth and strong. Exactly what we asked for.
Although we weren’t in the mood for alcohol, it’s worthing noting that Mr Hendricks has a liquor licence. The cafe’s drinks list covers a handful of local Wines, a couple of Beers and a Victorian Cider. In addition, there are currently 3 cocktails to consider. Our choice? Well, on a sunny arvo, we reckon the Mr Henzu – Japanese Yuzu with Hendrick’s Gin ($15.00), would slip down nicely.
Fortunately, Mr Hendricks has come through Covid and its lockdowns and continues to feed loyal locals and newcomers from a menu that offers enough innovation and interest to justify return visits.
Finally, with friendly, helpful staff and a glorious courtyard, it’s the kind of place where you pop in for a quick lunch and end up staying for a glass of wine whilst you chill out the back.