No. 19, Ascot Vale
The almost French bistro-esque No. 19 Society is putting the fancy into brunch for Melbourne’s inner North West, with premium plating and slightly out of the ordinary dishes.
Food: Berry and Chia Porridge, Eggs Benedict, Chocolate Brioche French Toast
Crossing a modern milk bar with a French bistro, No. 19 Society’s concrete walls, gold trimmings and pastel colours are very impressive. Despite visiting fairly late in the afternoon, No 19 was continually full of customers with a queue out the door – however, you’ll be relieved to know that most tables seat at least 4 people so you shouldn’t be waiting too long even if there’s more than 2 of you.
The cafe is narrow, but long and spacious, the soft lights help to lift the venue and keep it reasonably bright. We were promptly shown to a table, but then had quite a long wait to order our food. Overall, the service was fine, but they were clearly stretched by how busy they were, and apologises for the longer than average wait and a slightly more personalised service would go a long way. There just wasn’t anything memorable with the service to keep you returning unfortunately.
The menu is clever, it pushes the envelope enough to excite the more adventurous eaters, but not enough to turn off the mainstream bruncher; however, I don’t think they are delivering quite what they hoped for just yet. The food is enjoyable, but the portions are a little too small for the price and there’s definitely some finishing touches needed to make the dishes really wow! Well worth a visit if you’re local, but not somewhere we’d recommend travelling for.
We started with the eggs benny. This was a fairly traditional flavour combination with the pork and apple and was enjoyable – the bacon and chorizo floss was a nice little highlight. The eggs were done well but at $19 there needed to be more than a handful of pork and one piece of sourdough – or it needed to be the best eggs benny we’ve ever eaten, and sadly it wasn’t.
The porridge looked beautiful, but again was overpriced and a little simple. While it had a nice flavour, I would have preferred the porridge to be a little thicker and more substantial and it needed some additional fruit, or nuts to just keep it interesting. The puffed rice and hazelnut praline were just lost, and while the compote and poached pear were tasty, they weren’t enough to lift the whole dish.
Finally, beautiful brioche french toast was more of the same. The small piece of french toast was completely overwhelmed with the strong flavour combination. It looks stunning but was an incredibly rich dish without too much substance in there. The ideas from No. 19 Society are great but they’ve just not got the basic building blocks perfect on each dish yet. It’s a good cafe, the food is enjoyable enough – but we were just left wanting that wow factor that you feel when you walk in – I almost feel like the stunning environment, pricing and fine dining style plating are just raising the bar far too high and a fall back to a more simpler brunch experience would take No 19. Society much further.
Address: 214 Union Road, Ascot Vale
Mon 7am to 4pm
Tue 7am to 4pm
Wed 7am to 4pm
Thu 7am to 4pm
Fri 7am to 4pm
Sat 8am to 4pm
Sun 8am to 4pm
Parking: We found street parking really tough as there are quite a lot of permit zones and it was busy, but there is a free car park across the road which is probably your best bet.
Getting here on PT: No 19 is on the 57 tram route, you can alight at St Leonards Road and it’s a 1 minute walk (if that).
Disclaimer: We dined as guests of No 19 Society, Ascot Vale. Reviews are honest and based on our own personal experiences. We cannot guarantee things at a cafe won’t change including, but not limited to, menu items and opening hours, so please confirm any details with the venue before visiting.