In a strip rich in great cafe options, Porgies still manages to shine. Refined brunch-style fare in a fashionable space complete with an inviting courtyard and friendly service.
Location: 291 Auburn Rd, Hawthorn, VIC 3122 Ph: 0493 597 536
I am getting old, or has Porgies grown in recent years?
I seem to recall it being more like a collection of inter-connected rooms than the free-flowing open spaces that it currently fills.
Either way, these days, Porgies Hawthorn is a chic, yet homely, stylish but relaxed, temple to good coffee and and brunch-centric food.
One thing I am sure of, Porgies has shortened its name. When it first opened the cafe was Porgie & Mr Jones. Now, it’s simply Porgies. But happily for long-term customers, favourites such as the McPorgies ($7.5) – an English Muffin fat with Cheese, Scrambled Eggs & Ham – remain.
And so does the chilled, yet friendly vibe.
A great ambience, skillful barristas and a menu of crowd-pleasers? No wonder Porgies continue to be one of the most popular cafes in the area.
For a look at some of the Best Cafes in Camberwell (and nearby), see here
How does an eatery manage to look casually flung together and yet classy and hip at the same time? Many establishments try to hit this magic combination, but few pull it off with quite as much ease as Porgies.
Here, we’re firmly in the fashionable world of rough brick feature walls and contrasting whitewashed expanses, which provide a backdrop for idiosyncratic flourishes – like chairs hung above head height.
As you come through the main doors, there’s an impressively large service counter and appealing chilled display cabinet. Staff chime a hello as they blitz smoothies and manhandle the constantly whirring coffee machine.
If you are lucky enough to holiday up in FNQ, see our recommendations for the Best Restaurants in Port Douglas
Here, the dining furniture is a mix of distressed wooden benches, dark bistro-style chairs and discreet banquettes. If you head out the the rear courtyard, the gravelled space is littered with more benches – this time trimmed in white.
This courtyard is a real drawcard. Tranquil, leafy and with well-tended garden beds, on a balmy day, it’s a lovely spot which encourages settling in with a pastry and a cup of tea.
Although Porgies Cafe is a higgledy-piggledy combo of interior and exterior spaces, it has an uncluttered, relaxed vibe.
If you head down the coast to the beaches around Apollo Bay, see our tips on where to dine
Pleasingly, the menu at Porgies makes no distinction between Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch and simply runs all day.
If you like a fairly traditional start to the day, the Porridge ($18.5) might work for you. Festooned with Strawberries, a rubble of Macadamia Crumble and Maple Syrup, it ticks both the nourishing and slightly naughty boxes. In contrast, the Hotcakes ($27.0) make no pretence at virtue. These beauties comes with Strawberries and Cream, a decadent White Chocolate Mousse, textures of Strawberry and more of that addictive Macadamia Crumble.
For the savoury brekkie fans, the Benedict ($24.0) is a winner.
Check out our guide to the Best Breakfasts in Melbourne, right here.
Sunshine-yolked Poached Eggs arrive with Grilled Thick Cut Keiserfleish Bacon and a vivid buttery dollop of Hollandaise. The richness of the dish is mitigated by a nest of sticky Red Cabbage Jam. I can’t help myself and add on a Hash brown ($6.0). It proves to be a good decision. The Hash Brown is a soft, golden slab of Potato layers – perfectly caramelised at the edges.
There is discussion about Porgies Famous Chilli Eggs ($23.0). Accompanied by Goats Cheese, Chilli Jam & Soft Herbs along with Toast, the table next to ours has them with a side of Chorizo ($6.0) and they look extremely tempting.
But ultimately, my companions aren’t feeling the pull of Brunch and so go for a couple of Sandwiches.
Now as someone who considers themselves a bit of an expert when it comes to all things pastrami-based – this Reuben ($18.50) is a smidge disappointing.
Another bready option to sandwich a Reuben filling is a bagel. For our round-up of the Best Bagels in Melbourne, see here.
Don’t get me wrong. With Sliced Pastrami, Westmont Pickles, Pickled Cabbage, Swiss Cheese & House Sauce, the flavours are good. However, it’s not the heartiest Pastrami Sandwich that I’ve ever seen. And the Sourdough Bread isn’t the hunk of homemade, chewy carbs that I’d imagined. That said, my dining partner enjoys it.
More successful is the Schnitzel Sandwich ($18.0).
This takes the form of a substantial Sourdough Roll, high with filling. It’s insides are a fat wedge of Panko Crumbed Chicken along with Provolone Cheese, Roast Garlic, Basil Aioli & Mixed Leaves. The schnitty is juicy and delicious. It’s an excellent lunchtime sanga.
For an exciting spin (or 9) on an Aussie classic, read our review of Tokyo Lamington
As ever, Porgies Cafe has both good Coffee for the bean fans and a big range of Organic Teas for the leaf fiends.
There are also plenty of Cold Pressed Juices ($9.0), Milkshakes ($8.50) and Smoothies ($12.0), amongst the libations. Indeed, the Mixed Berry Smoothie with Banana, Mixed Berries, Dates, Chia Seeds, Coyo & Almond Milk gets a big thumbs up from the Berry Smoothie connoisseur.
And as we are in the gentrified air of Hawthorn, Porgies – of course – has a liquor licence. The alcoholic options are limited, but typically breakfast and lunch-friendly, with the Mimosa ($12.0) – Prosecco & Orange Juice – going down a storm out in the courtyard.
If you have a love of all things Acai, check out our review of Blitz Bar over in Malvern
In an area where people like to go out to breakfast and expect a certain standard of food and service, Porgies holds its own for good reason.
The menu is diverse enough for interest and everything both tastes – and looks – hugely appetising.
The staff are efficient, yet charming. The interior design is chilled and trendy, without be aggressively so. And the vibe is relaxed and welcoming.
Porgies Cafe Hawthorn has weathered the storm of Covid and remains a local favourite. We hope it stays that way for years to come.