Life on Mars, Hawthorn

– but for how long?

It started with so much promise – a new venture from Fletcher Zane (ex-Stokehouse, Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons, Icebergs and Quay).

Joining our brunch favourite Liar Liar (reviewed here) and a few other big guns on the Melbourne coffee scene, such as Home Dining Room, Replete and Porgie and Mr Jones, this Hawthorn cafe has to be great to stand a chance of competing. Has it got the goods? We’re not convinced.

Yeah it’s got a trendy black ceiling and whitewashed walls interior with minimal wooden fixtures and fittings, chairs hanging from the walls and mini glass milk bottles as sugar dispensers, and yes a good mix of communal and small tables with long benches and bar stools thrown in for good measure, and pot plants hanging from the walls a la a whole load of other places. And it serves a great Allpress capp and flat white. But, again, so do a lot of places (time to name-check Miss Jackson once again, these guys can do no wrong in my book, and of course the sandwich and cake heaven that is Beatrix – click the names for our past reviews).
We had great expectations for PhotoMonkey’s choice of Wagyu burger on toasted brioche with aioli and a side of fries ($12.50) and WordMonkey’s cultivated mushrooms, poached eggs and Bernaise sauce on sourdough ($12) but after a bit too long a wait we found both to be pretty uninspiring. In fact, he who brandishes the camera said: ‘This looks like something we could knock up at home on a school night.’ And you know what? He was right. And it wasn’t brioche, it was a run-of-the-mill, dodgy sausage sizzle-style bap, minus the flour. Shame. It was a good quality patty, cooked well, with crunchy shoestring fries – but it was mum’s friday night treat not a dish from someone of such culinary repute. There was no flair. It didn’t even come on a wooden block (joke, we’re not that bad).
Now, eggs and mushrooms, this is a combo I am intimately familiar with. And it can be dry, and I am well aware of this so hoped that the promise of ‘extra Bernaise sauce’ on the menu and the yolks of two runny eggs would counter any potential disasters. Not so – first egg only slightly runny, second egg pretty much hard-boiled. Should you specify you want your eggs runny when you order poached eggs? Have never had to before. Thoughts please. Anyway, what with the huge hunk of bread it came on and the fast congealing sauce it was all got a bit claggy about halfway through and I had to stop eating. The mushrooms were tasty with a sprinkling of micro herbs, but they needed to be backed up by something more. Now, I would expect any staff – owner or waitress or barista – who cleared the plate of a customer who has only eaten half their meal to enquire as to whether everything was ok. No such luck. Hopefully the chef saw for himself when a sorry pile of mushrooms, bread and solid egg returned to the kitchen.
The muffins looked great by the way, but by this time we were ready to go. Would we give it a second chance? Quite possibly, some of the lunch options did look more promising, as did the pastries and cakes, so it seems a shame to write it off so fast.
But on this occasion there was only one thing to do – wander down Burwood Road to Home Dining Room and their cute astro-turfed courtyard where we were greeted with smiles, passionfruit and mint chocolate milkshakes, and an incredible Eton Mess served in a Martini glass. Can not wait to head here for dinner, watch this space for the review.

Must try: Go for the coffee and contemplate those over-sized fresh muffins
Steer clear: The menu that promises more than it delivers
Price per head: $15

Life on Mars

842 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn
Hawthorn, VIC 3122
Tel. (03) 9078 866

Life on Mars on Urbanspoon

Home Dining Room

601 Burwood Road
Hawthorn VIC 3122
Tel(03) 9819 5555

Home Dining Room on Urbanspoon


3 thoughts on “Life on Mars, Hawthorn

  1. Oh it’s a shmd that life on mars didn’t really live up to your expectations but I find some places actually do better serving lunch than just breakfast and you said the desserts and pastries looked promising so I ve gotta go soon to explore hehe 🙂

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