Inspired by the London underground (but much nicer and cleaner), STN (station) is the brainchild of Nolan Taing, working alongside Workshop Brothers’ Joe La. The smooth greys and fresh decor are complimented by quirky patterned seats and a heavily tiled counter which really help inspire flashbacks to your days in London waiting for the tube (without any of the rats, urine smell or dirt). Despite the obvious decor connections, STN couldn’t actually be further from the London Underground experience: The service is prompt and efficient, and the light walls and wide windows to the front make it a bright, spotlessly clean space.
Tables are a little cosy, so be prepared for your conversation to be overheard, but it’s a fairly small cafe on a popular street so that’s pretty much a given. Staff are attentive and friendly: we were warmly greeted and quickly seated and throughout our meal we were regularly checked on. I loved how open the kitchen was so you could watch the chefs work. They also do a seriously good coffee!
I ordered the lemon and Parmesan gnocchi with butternut sauce, onion 3 ways, walnut and sage – the whole menu reads like this, there’s real effort gone into their brunch dishes. I loved that the gnocchi were huge and had a great flavour even if eaten alone. The butternut sauce was a perfect addition, with the crunchy walnuts adding texture. It’s a surprisingly rich dish, with the onions being the absolute highlight for me. I’m not a fan of onions, so for me to enjoy them all three ways was impressive: sweet, juicy and just the perfect texture – not too crispy, not too slimy.
M.B. ordered the red velvet pancakes with coconut meringue, freeze-dried fruits, raspberry, white chocolate soil and mascarpone. The pancakes themselves were lovely, soft, tasted great and looked amazing; nevertheless, we both felt the dish was just a little too sweet and the additions seemed to work more as complementary to the plating rather than to the flavours. It’s more geared towards your insta than your tummy. A lot of fun, but not a great dish unless you have a real sweet tooth.
We also shared the chai brioche, which I have to say was wonderful. This was a much more refined and mature sweet breakfast and the flavours here were spot on. The brioche had a wonderful texture and there wasn’t too much of it. The chai flavour is subtle but was just enough to balance the overall flavours of the dish. I loved the poached pear (I totally don’t care that they are so everywhere right now and are becoming a cliche), it tasted beautiful and was lovely and soft. The parfait was delicious and added a crunch to the plate, and the slightly sour mandarin just pulled all those flavours together. We really couldn’t have been more impressed with this dish and if you’re opting for something sweet, this is definitely the way to go.
Overall, we were impressed with the gorgeous look and feel of the cafe and the fancy feel of the brunches. While the pancakes didn’t quite hit the mark, the other two dishes more than made up for it, showing some real technique and a lot of work. It almost feels like you’re fine dining for brunch. Definitely give it a try!
Thanks for having us Northcote STN!