I really did feel I was heading down a rabbit hole to find this place as google maps insisted over and over again that we needed to drive 11kms past the place, do a U-turn and drive 11kms down the exact same road. However, without the help of google maps, we did eventually find it. Set not in Templestowe Village but in a nondescript row of local shops you feel these guys have had to work to make their mark. However, they are the only cafe of their size I’ve ever visited that’s had a constant queue out of the door on a Wednesday morning – so make their mark they clearly have.
With on site parking, and Westerfolds park a hop skip and jump around the corner, they’re actually in a dream location. The corner unit boasts a small seating area out front (nicely separated from the road by parking), a good sized, bright inside area, and a back courtyard. With light wood throughout and lots of bright accents, it’s a modern interior while still feeling homely and family friendly.
Chefs Matt and John did their apprenticeship together many years ago and reconnected to create Down The Rabbit Hole. “Our chef has a bit of flare” confesses one of the owners, and it’s true: with a focus on fresh flavours the varied menu should have something for everyone. We tried the “an apple a day”, the breakfast board and the “maxijohn”, topped off with some great coffee and some take home bronuts (more on those later).
The maxijohn was the highlight for us. The gingerbread waffles actually tasted like gingerbread – as in Hansel-and-Gretel-eating-the-witches-house gingerbread. They actually tasted more like gingerbread than most gingerbread I’ve eaten. It’s a shame as I kind of see this dish being dubbed as the “insta favourite” but it’s not shoved on the menu to get social media likes, it is SUCH a good dish. The sweet semifreddo balanced perfectly with the waffles and the choice of lemon and blueberry give the dish enough undertones of traditional morning flavours to remind you you are still eating breakfast.
The Breakfast board straddled the traditional and creative fence rather nicely, keeping that well worn favourite, the acai blend, but teaming it with a mini filled bagel and donut holes. It’s like a three course breakfast: start with the acai – end with the donut holes. It’s not a thrown together cluster of their favourite dishes but a thoughtful meal in its own right. It’s beautiful, simple and balanced – so often I avoid breakfast boards as they veer way too much towards the super healthy – but this was enjoyable to eat and something I’d definitely go back for.
The “an apple a day” is a bircher dish. It’s bigger than it looks and I was very impressed with the portion size. I loved the slightly bitter, crisp apple flavour – it was much more enjoyable on the palate than a sweeter apple choice. A few too many dates for my liking, but that’s just because I’m not a huge fan of them, it’s not a problem with the dish. The accompanying pear was the only disappointment of the day. While its colour was great and it had lovely flavour it was just too hard. Even with a knife I had real difficulty cutting it without the piece I’d cut through flying across the plate – and eating my bircher with a knife, spoon and a fork was just a pain. A small issue, and just a simple enough fix away from perfection.
We were also kindly treated to a plate of their in-house baked bronuts (brioche donuts), which may sound sickly, but are actually lighter and airer than a traditional donut just with a chewier outer texture. The ferrero rocher was my favourite: with its chocolate glaze and gold dust it’s pure indulgence and exactly what you need for a cheat day. For something a little more scaled back try the blueberry and meringue, or the very Aussie lemon and lime bitters (I even love that they came up with the idea to do this flavour).
Overall, we left clearly understanding why this cafe is so busy. Staff are rushed off their feet but take their time to be friendly and welcoming, even queuing customers are regularly attended too and updated on their wait. The coffee is excellent and the food is at such a high level I doubt it is replicated anywhere locally. Whatever you do, don’t leave without a bronut! Thanks for inviting us Down the Rabbit Hole.