Mama Bear, 526 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9376 0386
In terms of location, Mama Bear really has it nailed.
Roughly equidistant from the coffee-and-more riches of Union Rd, the swell Asian smorgasbord on the other side of the railway line on Racecourse Rd and undistinguished Macaulay Rd, it really stands out.
Even better, unlike the situation on those three nearby strips, the parking here is unrestricted on both sides of the road. You may have to look for a wee while at weekends, but I doubt it’ll be any great problem.
Lovely exterior artwork, concrete floor, random yet stylish furniture, vintage signs, a high communal table with stools – yes, this is hipster cafe territory.
As you’d expect, breakfast is the big deal here. Heck, there’s not even a lunch menu – the post-noon fare falls under the heading “Brunch”.
The building was previously a Mexican joint the threshold of which we never crossed.
Co-proprietor Daniel tells me that ithe building’s first role was as a stables or some other equine-related business. He shows me the indentations where horses had gnawed away at the window frames.
I love the display of $3.50 old-school slices and hedgehogs. Some are brought in, some are made in-house.
The non-breakfast line-up is compact and appealing, with all items sitting on or around the $17 mark.
There’s a pesto-based pasta, a blackboard risotto, a calamari salad and a beef cheek slider.
I go for the Angus burger.
The orthodox in me yearns for something more usually related to burgers for accompaniment – coleslaw maybe, or chips. Or both.
But truth is, I am a fan of the rocket and fetta fad – and this is a good one: Fresh, lemony, tangy.
The skewered pickled cucumber is a crunchy, slightly sweet and delicately seasoned delight.
The beef patty looks modestly sized but is quite substantial. More importantly, it tastes fantastic. If only all burgers were this juicy! Maybe it could’ve done with a slightly heavier hand in the salt, pepper and seasoning department, but it’s still a very fine thing.
By the time the beef is all gone, I’m left with a handful of other ingredients – high-quality bun, shredded red cabbage that looks pickled but doesn’t taste like it, tomato, good and gooey cheese, mustard and mayo. But they’re all so classy, I enjoy consuming every last morsel.
To finish, a cafe latte is ordered.
It’s insanely excellent.