The existence of a branch of famous Fitzroy cafe/bakery Rustica at Highpoint came as a complete surprise to us.
But, asked to meet friends there, we are eager to try.
Highpoint Rustica is located well away from all the other centre’s food outlets and courts, in the newer, swisher part of the centre.
It’s easy to forget it’s in a shopping centre – and that’s a fine and no doubt deliberate thing.
There’s indoor and outdoor seating – well, sort-of outdoor!
The staff do an admirable job and the pricing is thereabouts in comparison with other western suburbs cafes presenting food of similar quality and sophistication.
The not so good first.
My slow-roasted garlic and rosemary lamb baguette ($19) looks the part with its greens, pomegranate, pickled onion and garlic labneh.
But it is dull, lacking the zing the ingredients so strongly suggest.
The best bit is the side serve of potato salad.
In some ways, the menu disturbs with its long-winded and extravagant lists of ingredients for many dishes.
The dish called Smashed Peas ($20), for instance, stacks up thusly: Beetroot cured salmon, snow pea tendrils, radish, zucchini noodles, puffed wild rice, goats whip, beetroot hummus and poached egg on quinoa-soy-linseed toast.
But this is a winner and I love every mouthful, wiping the plate clean.
To my cynicism-fuelled surprise, ALL the ingredients/flavours fit just right.
The egg is superbly done.
The fish is mild of flavour but very good.
The greens and salad bits are of prime freshness.
I’d order this again without hesitation.
The Spiced Chickpea Falafels ($19.50) are equally fine.
The good falafels are fat and a little dry.
But that’s no problem at all when they’re keeping company with roasted zaatar carrots and cauliflower, pickled red cabbage, pomegranate, more of the beetroot hummus stuff and grilled ciabatta with zaatar seasoning.
It’s a colourful jumble of joy, full of crunch and taste tingles.
The coffee here is excellent.
And I’m told by one who knows that the likes of their almond croissants and cronuts are to live for.