Perennial hipster brunch spot Pillar of Salt has been keeping it’s loyal fan-base happy for years with a dynamic, trend-setting menu and considered drinks selection.
Location: 541 Church St, Richmond, VIC 3121 Ph: (03) 9421 1550
If there is a more quintessentially Richmond cafe than the Pillar of Salt, then I’d like to try their Single Origin Filter Cold Brew Coffee.
The Church Street favourite has been turning out imaginative brunch dishes for so long now that it’s easy to forget it was one of the first of the new breed of casually cool eateries when it first opened. And whilst distressed brick walls and good coffee can now be found all over the city, Pillar of Salt has maintained it loyal customers. So whatever they are doing is clearly working.
The main dining room has a rough and ready appeal. There are scuffed floors, exposed brickwork and quirky colander lampshades. At the front, there’s a communal wooden-topped table, surrounded by stools. Elsewhere, the seating is classic French bistro curved-backed chairs and tables.
At the heart of the space, the coffee machine and service area butt onto a white-tiled pillar. There’s no clean, gleaming counter top here. Instead, the wooden ledges heaves with stacks of cups, tins, pot plants and more.
There’s a courtyard out the back. In winter, it’s kept cosy with heaters. Come summer, the roof rolls back to allow the sunshine in. The result is a calm little oasis in the bustle of the inner city.
And what of the vibe? Well, the Pillar of Salt cafe’s hipster credentials are high, in the best possible way. Rather than being aggressively fashionable, the atmosphere is welcoming and chilled.
Pillar of Salt runs an All Day Menu which flexes with the seasons.
We love the decadent description of the Belgian Chocolate Waffles ($24). Accompanied by Hazelnut & Oreo Crumb, White Chocolate Cream Cheese Ganache & Raspberry Compote, it almost makes it onto our order. However, our visit coincides with a sudden dramatic drop in the mercury, so comfort food is our priority.
The solution comes in the form of the Warm Rice Pudding ($20). As pretty as it is tasty, the soft grains are perfumed with Rose Water Poached Pear, nuggets of Pistachio and Strawberry Jam. Extra texture comes from a crisp Filo Crackle. It’s a hug in a bowl and exactly what’s needed to fight the winter blues.
One of the cafes best-known meals in their Red Chilli Scrambled Eggs ($23). Again, it feels like you can find fiery curds of Eggs on Sourdough all over this town these days. Yet, Pillar of Salt still does one of the go-to versions. Here, creamy Parmesan-dusted Eggs and Chilli Strips sit on Sourdough along with Julienne Bacon, Parsley and Spring Onion. Wash it down with a strong Coffee, and your day is sure to start well.
This time around, my dining companion has a yen for Eggs Benedict, but not for the Smoked Salmon Benedict ($25) on offer. No problem. Their order comes minus the fish and you’d barely notice its absence. What’s left is a delicate plate of Potato & Fennel Croquettes, Pickled Root Vegetable, Poached Eggs & Saffron Hollandaise on a vivid layer of Kale Pesto. It’s a triumph.
Whilst we stay true to the Breakfast menu this time, I’ve enjoyed Lunch on a previous trip to Richmond. The Spiced Beetroot Salad ($23) is a fabulous riot of reds and purples. Featuring Beetroot, Saganaki, Radicchio, Blood Orange Jam, Braised Lentils & Almond Za’atar, its sings with vibrant anti-oxidants to help keep cold bugs away. What’s more, you can pimp it up by supplementing with Poached Egg, House Smoked Salmon, or Poached Chicken if you wish.
Apart from the Single Origin Filter Coffee mentioned above, all other of Pillar of Salt’s coffee game is strong. Indeed, I believe these folks have their own custom blend.
For the non-coffee drinkers – who are you people?! – there are plenty of other libations. If you want something hot, try a Prana Chai ($7), Golden Grind’s Turmeric Latte ($5.5/6.5) or a Oscar + Felix Hot Chocolate ($4.5/5.5). Or perhaps a Smoothie appeals more? Personally, I have a soft spot for their Hulk Smoothie ($14). As forest-green as you could wish, it’s a healthy dose of Kale, Avo, Pineapple, Apple, Protein Powder, Honey & Coconut Water in a glass.
Of course, we are in Richmond. So if you want a cocktail with brekky, you are we to stop you? Whilst we’ve never yet met a Mimosa we haven’t quaffed, our mix of choice at Pillar of Salt is the Boozy Yuzu Slushie ($18). Although the name speaks of childhood icy drinks, this is very much a tipple for grown-ups. This potent blend of Tequila, Candied Yuzu, Lemon Juice & Ginger Syrup blitzed with ice will either wake you up or knock you out by lunchtime.
Oh. And they also do a smattering of Beers and Wines.
In post-lockdown Melbourne, it’s great to see that dynamic cafes like Pillar of Salt have not only come through an incredibly tough time, but seem to be thriving.
And we hope that this continues to be the case for many more years to come.
Pillar of Salt makes inner city cool and innovation look easy. However, we know that building a devoted customer base and keeping it happy is tough in a dining scene as cut-throat as Melbourne’s.
But with a constantly evolving menu, great service and a relaxed vibe, this cafe remains one to emulate.