As per every Sunday, our little brunch crew heads out, bravely foraging where many hipsters have foraged before, to judge – and potentially hate – breakfast joints around Melbourne.
In honour of CW’s imminent departure to warmer climes, our posse headed out to the Heide Museum of Modern Art to brunch at Cafe Vue and then peruse the Carol Jerrems exhibit Up Close (with Larry Clark, Nan Goldin and William Yang). Perfect spring weather, our usual tardiness, and we’re pulling into the carpark, ready to trek up the hill and grab a table before the kitchen stops serving brunch.
As a mea culpa, we arrived only 5 minutes before noon, and all the tables were full. So, nervously eyeing the turnaround on tables, we left our number with the girl seating people, and wandered off to sit in the sun and hope that breakfast would still be served by the time we were seated.
Of course, a few minutes after noon is when we get a call letting us know that a table’s freed up, so we trot on over to get seated.
Before too long – wait, scratch that. Right on too long, we get our introduction to our friendly wait staff, who shall forever more be known as Gay Martha. With her carefree abandon and laissez-faire approach to service, her bewildering, mindless floating soon cements in our mind that “she doesn’t know if she’s Arthur or Martha.”
With what is a painful wait, we eventually squeeze a coffee order in with Gay Martha, only to have her (and the other staff) potter aimlessly, blissfully unfettered by any desire or need to do their jobs. When Gay Martha returns to bring us water and glasses (but not yet the coffees we order, oh my no), she makes a point to tell us that she “didn’t forget” about us, before leaning in to conspiratorially whisper “I did forget about you.”
Did I mention that she didn’t bring us enough water glasses? Because she didn’t.
Over the course of what is approaching an hour, we (finally) receive coffees, make a food order (having missed the breakfast menu), wait patiently, wait impatiently, wait with alcohol, gnaw on our own arms and wait with additional alcohol. Casual observance around Cafe Vue exposes that most tables are about ready to beat any available staff to death with a chair. One gentleman fetches his own additional wine glasses, and later buses his own dishes back to the counter in order to clear some space on his party’s table.
Around the time that thoughts of euthanasia begin (for us or Gay Martha, it’s hard to tell in the angry memory of it all), food arrives and we finally get to sate our appetites and momentarily divert our focus from homicidal rage to the meals at hand.
Having missed breakfast, we had had to order from the lunch menu, so I ploughed into a Vue wagyu burger with hand cut chips and relish, CW and ML tucked into their Croque Madames (that’s not a euphemism) and LH took on the duck cassoulet jaffle.
Fortunately for me, I may have scored the outright winner of the brunch, with the Croque Madames not particularly adventurous but featuring quite decent, locally-sourced ham off the bone. LH’s duck cassoulet jaffle was decidedly underwhelming, skirting the bare minimums of delicious duck to prevent LH from grinding the cooks’ faces into a steam wand. Additionally the jaffle came as a pressed sandwich, and not the deliciously sealed jaffle of the style that invariably gives you third degree burns and a chin coated in filling.
Thank god for the Jerrems exhibit which managed to make our Sunday excursion worthwhile, especially considering it was CW’s last brunch before sidling out of the country to traipse across Spain and Portugal. Cafe Vue and Gay Martha managed to exceed all previous experiences of dodgy service. But for the sunshine and beer, there may have not been any way to prevent a hungry war crime from occurring.