Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Proud Mary (Melbourne) - ♕♕♕♕♕ 1/2

  Proud Mary has to be proud of its achievements.   After around 10 visits and repeatedly ordering many same food and coffee items,  only during my last 2 visits before I left Melbourne did this quality dropped-off gradually in the cupping quality,  as it was at the end of harvest for one of the Costa Rican coffee beans in their usual House Blend,  and the substituted bean made the house blend much flatter and too normal.  Every bit seems to count!   During that same final week of being in town I have been driving across suburbs cross-referencing with Ora Cafe to learn more for myself since they also use the default Proud Mary blend and even over at that side they had suffered the same problem,  may be a little less obvious than here probably thanks to a different machinery set up but was still obvious in the side-by-side comparison.     A great café is not only about good coffees during every time we visit I am starting to realise.  Proud Mary Cafe does serve carefully selected artisanal teas and also easily some of the best café foods in the business in Melbourne and Australia.   It is the whole total package that I miss.   





Set Up.  There are many grinders in this shop. 


Clover -
At the beginning of my visits this was still in use,
but I think they have since decommissioned this.  




Beans for Take-Out.




That Extra Long 6 Group Synesso,  Custom Built -
Apparently about to be upgraded from Cyncra spec soon..




Black Coffee Menu -
On Rotation…   Some very good beans here.  More below.




Cake Display Shelf -
Home made stuff,  it’s more of the approachable type.  But surprisingly tasty.




Panela Sugar from Colombia and normal Raw Sugar -
I don’t use sugar in my coffees usually,   but may be Italians will appreciate this?




The Ubiquitous Beer Bottle as a Water Bottle -
Still brings a smile whenever you see it,  as this is just so Melbourne. 
When you see this in HK though it seems much more pretentious,
as coffee shops in HK are much more about geekiness.   



Ice Drip machine -  
This is well timed and the Barista takes a lot of effort to time the dripping rate properly after the first 10 minutes or so.   Around 1 drip per 3 seconds. 



Proud Mary House Blend of 3 Countries -  Espresso
Lovely and balanced.  Much more fruitier than the nutty/chocolate note that they advertise.

Caffe Latte -

Cappuccino -
Even better.

Ice Drip Panana ‘Hartman’ Geisha -
Not very good surprisingly.  Ice Drips I find really vary.  Some cafes always have interesting ones,  but here and at Single Origin Roasters in Sydney gave some flat ones for some reason…


Smoked Pork Neck & Bean Fabada, Poached Egg, Green Aioli and Sourdough – AUD $16.5
An excellent lunch dish and all worked so well on the well toasted sourdough…  encored on another day  ~  9/10


Crispy Pork Belly Sandwich with Aioli and Paprika Relish – $15.5
The biggest attraction about this is not the obvious,  but the BREAD.
    It was very unique and had a half crumpet and half brioche like texture and when toasted,  OMG where was this bread all my life!   In fact it tasted similar to the French Toast we ate at  Link:  Auction Rooms.   We had this on 4 separate occasions.  The Pork Belly ranged from slightly under-grilled to perfectly crisp,   but the texture was melt in your mouth tender and oh so flavourful.    As a local comparison,  these pieces of pork bellies beat Tapeo’s on the best of day by a bit of margin.  Go figure, as this is just café food..   ~  10/10


Poached Eggs, Buttered Spinach and Morcilla Blood Sausage on Sourdough – $16
The eggs here are poached very neatly,  which seems to be a trend in certain new cafes.  Very well,  in fact I think at Proud Mary poached eggs are the way to go as their Scrambled Eggs aren’t that good in comparison.   The Morcilla was of high quality,  with plenty of balanced gaminess and chopped texture, this time better than Auction Rooms’ one.  ~   8/10

Poached Eggs with Avocado -  $15.5
As expected in taste.  Notice we ordered 3 poached eggs here haha…  ~  7/10

Slow Cooked Lamb Sandwich,  Beetroot Relish and Yoghurt -  $15
Another lovely sandwich with pulled lamb meat marinated in beetroot juice,  with a tangy yoghurt and relish.  This was surprisingly gamey and very enjoyable.  I really liked this but I ordered more of the above pork belly sandwich only because that was simply sublime and I tell anyone I meet to please try ordering it.  This was great on its own too.   ~   9/10


Brazil Antonio Fortes C.O.E. #9 (Siphoned) -
This is expectedly approachable with a dark chocolate and caramel sweet finish,  no sharp drop-offs.   It is quite mild but still enjoyable.  Great for those not into Acidic Fruity Coffees  ~  7/10

Tanzania ‘Blackburn Estate, Clouds of August’ (Siphoned) -
Stonefruits and Cherries note,  this was pretty decent as fruitiness was balanced without running off into extremes.   Probably not as good as the few Nicaraguan Limoncello Pacamara Natural I had on other days  ~   7.5/10

Colombia ‘Santa Rita’ Espresso - 
Tasting note of Orange Citrus and Barley apparently.  Can’t remember this much.  Just seemed very drinkable and for some reason similar to the house. 

Angel Wings Blend – Guatemala, El Salvador and Panama (Cappuccino)
I already had the above and asked if this blend can be made into a milk coffee.  They said it will work.  I probably knew what I was landing myself into,  but their Angel Wings blend didn’t work as a normal cappuccino at all.  It was mostly milk..   Oh well,  good to be experimental Winking smile  ~  2/10


Panama ‘Santa Teresa’ Geisha (Clovered) -
This was drank in August when their Clover was still running here.  This was surprisingly muted and really didn’t work, yet the colour was definitely orangey Santa Teresa,  as a later siphoned cup drank at Link: Ora Café which was also roasted by here, was memorable to this day with that balanced jasmine and orange note.  After a few Clover attempts I think I’m starting to write that off.   Great job that Proud Mary decided to also decommission it.   ~   3/10

Scrambled Eggs,  Mushrooms, Butter Spinach and Hash -  $19.5
The Scrambled Eggs here aren’t that good.
  I’ve suspected it from others ordering it before and just to try it out once as you have see me ordering mostly poached eggs before,  these were too watery creamy and not scrambled enough.  For the best Scrambled eggs or in fact any eggs in town (plus some killer black coffees),  a must visit is  Link: Dukes Coffee Roasters.   ~  6/10

Potato Hash/Rosti -
This is another favourite item here at Proud Mary,  but although it isn’t bad at all the moisture within the shredded potato hasn’t been dehydrated enough making this a little limpy outside and wet inside.   I think I liked the versions I had at Link:  Dead Man Espresso a bit better.


Had too many coffees here to count and talk about -
  But overall they were mostly great except a few weaker ones,
or the last few cups we got before we left. 

House Made Chocolate and Beetroot Brownie -
Smile  The combination of these made for a killer combo,  who would have thought!  Beetroot and choco.  I had this twice but this is the earlier shape which I kind of liked better.  Topped with toasted Pistachios.    Amazing stuff.   Tasted way better than it looks.   ~   10/10


Lemon Tart -
Topped with some cream and dusted sugar and lemon zest.  Didn’t look exactly neat and trimmed but taste alone wise it was very very good indeed.   ~  9/10

House made Pappardelle, Slow Braised Ox Cheek Ragu, Parmigiano Cheese, Torn Basil -  $17
So I am at a Café and enjoying home made pasta and not only that it was a pasta that probably beats most HK Restaurants!    Call me exaggerating this but it was done close to perfection on both occasions on seasoning and balance.  A dining friend didn’t think much of this as it is just a simple enough recipe?   But I just need a freaking balanced pasta like this properly cooked, tender and heartful rich at my local café coming with the correct herbs.   ~   9/10




A Last Visit before I leave Melbourne -
The cappuccino wasn’t so great this time,  but I already got a preview at Ora Café that week using the same blend but on a Strada EP instead.   One of the beans a Costa Rican from memory was out of harvest season and they had to substitute it with another temporary replacement. The balance went right out of the window…   but that is coffee for you.  It is constantly changing.  And so should you!   ~  6/10




Sad smile Why this has to happen right before I leave is beyond my control. 



At least I can still have a Poached Pear,  Cocoa Semolina Custard,  Pistachio Biscotti and Spiced Cream to send me off on my last visit -  $14
All that chocolate richness, pear meat, and semolina custard was all I needed to know I will miss here.    On top of all the above great coffees and dishes. 

Costa Rica ‘La Candelila’ Geisha (V60 Hand Dripped) -
They ran out of another option so I went for this alternative Geisha from Costa Rica,  said to be a region where Geisha was imported into the continent before the same DNA coffee bean was discovered in Panama by scientists by accident and which make it hit the world scene.   Probably a great movie script in itself but this was actually quite muted.   Can’t remember much  ~   6/10

Nicaragua Limoncello Pacamara, Natural Process (Siphoned) -
This was my last coffee at Proud Mary apart from the many not already posted as there is no point tuning all the photos!   To seasoned coffee drinkers, this Single Origin bean has always had that expected tasting profile which is pleasant and enjoyable without any WOW factors, but always gives out a smile on the face for it’s utter balance.   May be I didn’t want to leave here on a sour note and disappoint myself,  since coffees were generally good on many occasions but just when I was about to leave it became embroiled in the typical transitional cross-over season.   I ordered this black coffee knowing what I should exactly expect.   It was still great with sophistication and clarity,  and in fact the same Limoncello Pacamara bean drank at other cafes wasn’t convincing.    Cafes,  Food and Coffees are all about becoming open minded,  being patient enough to see the next perfect cup once again.  



Price: AUD $4 – $20 per person
Food: ♕♕♕♕♕ 1/2
Coffee:  ♕♕♕  -

Opening Hours:
Mon to Fri -   7am-4pm
Sat to Sun -     8am-4pm

Address:  172 Oxford Street (corner Stanley Street) Collingwood Vic 3066
Ph: (03) 9417 5930


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