Cheeseburger Gothic

Breakfast at the Balfour

Posted June 1, 2013 by John Birmingham

One of the telltale signs that you have arrived in a civilized place is the ability to eat breakfast twenty-four hours a day. Failing that, a decent feed before 10 AM will do. There once was a time when you were hostage to the grand hotels if you wanted something more than fried bread and stringy bacon to start your day. Not that there's anything wrong with a big greasy fry up. The old California Café of fond memory was notorious for its Truckers Breakfast, and I have vague artery clogging memories of something similar at a café in Queenbeyan outside Canberra. At some point in its evolution, however, a city offers up more than basic bacon and eggs.
I can think of half a dozen places around Brisbane known as specialty breakfast providers, even if they're open until late at night. And I've had reason to sample more than a few of them for review purposes the last month. The Balfour down in New Farm stands apart for being part of the Spicers resort group. A high-end chain of retreats and spas, Spicers have been working on their culinary rep for a couple of years. The Long Apron, the in-house noshery at Spicers Montville resort, in the mountains behind the north coast, is one of the best restaurants in the state. The Balfour, an inner-city colonial property, and home to Prof. Boylan when he first visited, is justly famous for its breakfasts.

I'd recommend you book rather than just walking in off the street, because they have to keep most of the tables set aside for the in-house guests. When the Balfour first threw open its doors to the hungry general public this led to seething crowds of bacon fans spilling into the gutters as they waited on the street outside. That first rush has died off a bit, but it's still worth booking rather than just walking in and hoping for the best.
A rare Saturday without kids sport let me pop in for a review sitting this morning. No crowds in evidence. I think people have got used to the idea that you can't roll up unannounced and expect to be seated immediately.
We did secure a table with only twenty minutes notice, however. Most of the seating is out on the front and side verandas of the old colonial building, with gas heaters stationed here and there to keep everything toasty warm. There's a fair chance you'll end up on the deck, so you want to rug up in the colder months. This is quite literally possible because of the blankets helpfully draped over the back of the chairs.

There is a small hotel style buffet inside, but forget about that and just order off the card. I put my hand up for the big breakfast, something I don't do as much nowadays, mostly to get as many elements as possible on one plate. The Balfour biggie arrives with an elegant sufficiency of sausages – you'd be surprised the number of places that try to skimp on the sausages. The centerpiece, however, is a big slab of dark, glistening pork belly in place of the more traditional bacon.
The single poached egg is perfectly cooked, but it could've done with a little friend to share the love. Sautéed mushrooms and potato rosti provide a little bulk, along with lightly toasted and very crusty Italian pane. There are no weak links, with the mushrooms and the pork belly standing out as potentially spectacular features. I would've liked a bit more crunch in my crackling to lift this dish from the merely very good to the sublime. It was still pretty fucking good, though.
The omelette was better; a golden disk, light but densely layered with flavor from the roasted sweet potato, soft goats cheese and caramelized onion. It delivered a power packed hit of flavor without any of the heaviness of the carb and protein laden big fella. The coffees were strong without being bitter, and when they ran out of powdered chocolate they simply grated up what they needed from a block of dark couverture chocolate.
This is one of those breakfasts you'd have once every couple of months as a very special treat, unless you will looking to pack on a couple of kilos a week or you had about five hours of weight lifting planned. I don't. so I'll probably skip lunch.

16 Responses to ‘Breakfast at the Balfour’

sylmobile has opinions thus...

Posted June 1, 2013

Damn, that's got me hankering for second breakfasts!

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Murphy reckons...

Posted June 1, 2013

Hmm, yeah, Kansas City doesn't do civilized breakfasts either. You pretty much have to go to Eggtc, Cracker Barrel or Corner Cafe in Liberty (an asshole named Jesse robbed a bank there once, made him famous). And it is gonna be eggs and bacon for the most part.

When visiting the good aforementioned Professor Boylan in his locale, he guided us to Cafe Bernadino for breakfast burritos. Typical Midwestern Skeptic, I wasn't sure until I got a bite.

I was sold.

Can't get a good breakfast burrito in Kansas City. As for sausages, they undercook them in most places. Don't believe me? Ask Cindy about it.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Dino not to be confused with asserts...

Posted June 1, 2013

JB,

Where's ya Kipflers?

It says 'Dukah Kipflers'?

I am going up the road to buy something to eat.

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Abe Frellman reckons...

Posted June 1, 2013

It's true about sausage skimpage, both in terms of quality and quantity.

And I think the place you mean in Queanbeyan is Central Cafe, where quantity has a quality all of its own.

Guru Bob mumbles...

Posted June 2, 2013

There are some awesome brekkie sausages to be found in cafes around Yarraville the local butcher does some fabulous meats.

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Michelle Alcock puts forth...

Posted June 1, 2013

Breakfast looks good, however I believe that breakfast honors go to Tutto Caffe in Ashgrove. We have been going there for approx three years and had always had great breakfasts.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted June 1, 2013

Noted, m'lady.

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Guru Bob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 2, 2013

There was also that place you took me to once out the back of a terrace house near Kings Cross that I seem to recdfall had a major league plate of artery clogging goodness.

Next time you are down here in sunny Melbourne I need to drag you over the Westgate Bridge to the Duchess of Spotswood, the best breakfast ever - you just can't go back after you try their brekkies...

http://www.duchessofspotswood.com.au/themenu.php

-Bob-

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Moko ducks in to say...

Posted June 2, 2013

OMG If you ever need someone to take pics of food for you let me know.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted June 2, 2013

I had breakfast at Balfour but, being culturally deprived, I was most impressed with something called "bircher" - topped with fresh strawberry rhubarb compote.

However, the best breakfast I had in Brisbane was at a place called Pourboy - poached eggs on toasted English muffin with smoked Tasmanian salmon. So good we did it twice.

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Spanner swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 2, 2013

I just ate me the Black pudding with scrambled eggs at the Pitt St Cafe in Redfern. It was tres awesomez.

Dino not to be confused with mumbles...

Posted June 2, 2013

Spanner

Lucky for you Black Puddin' ain't bacon.

I am going to tell ya Doctor!-

"Goddamit Spanner! I know that Black pudding isn't Bacon Goddamit!"

Delusionz swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 3, 2013

Spanner, put some bacon and snags on your plate, while reading this - http://www.cobblescorner.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Get-With-The-Guidelines_AHJ-Jan.2009.pdf.

Nutshell - 137,000 hospitalised heart patients - 42% of patients had LDL-cholesterol levels <100 mg/dL (2.6) and 72% had levels <130 mg/dL (3.4).

It says something about the complete blindness/ineptness of nutrition experts today that the scientists who put the data together didn't conclude that LDL numbers are a poor risk marker for heart disease, rather that the current LDL guidelines are too low. WTF?

This is just one example of many as to why your doc is misguided and why your eggs should have been fried in butter and your black pud' should have a side of animal fat.

Yes, I know I sound like the polar opposite of a militant vegan (probably similarly annoying), but it makes me tear-up every time I hear someone say they 'aren't allowed' to eat delicious, healthy fat.

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yankeedog puts forth...

Posted June 2, 2013

Let us not forget (or maybe it's an American thing) to frequent places that can do decent pancakes or waffles, preferably establishments that serve sausage made in the area. That'll be the sausage with discernible bits of real meat.

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Brother PorkChop is gonna tell you...

Posted June 3, 2013

Gun Shop cafe West End is pretty good too for breakfats. And there was another joint I think on LaTrobe terrace that did a fantastic breakfast curry.

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