The only thing better than a good coffee is a great coffee paired with delicious food.
Auction Rooms in North Melbourne initially began their life as a coffee roaster.
Now, the roastery had moved off-site as Small Batch Roasting Co., who supply to a select few other lucky cafes in Melbourne.
Trading Plates caught up with Tarn Fisher from Auction Rooms to find out more about the food and coffee philosophies.
The coffee connoisseurs at Auction Rooms spend lots of time overseas sourcing the best quality coffee they can find.
“We bring back samples of up to 100 different coffees from each country then hone this down to ten to 15 per country, before purchasing bigger quantities of each,” says Fisher.
“Our blend Candyman is created with accessibility, consistency and simplicity at heart.
“We choose coffees that will provide a relatively stable flavour profile throughout the year.
“Sometimes we liven it up for fun, like the Lasso’daño, which is created for a more intense, characterful espresso.”
Given that Auction Rooms have such a rich history in coffee, it would not be unreasonable to wonder whether the food is given less attention than in most cafes. But Fisher assures us it is not the case.
“We want Auction Rooms to achieve a celebration of hospitality, warmth and innovation with equal focus on specialty coffee and fabulous food.
“Our food comes with a level of comfort, simplicity and speed, yet with a higher level of presentation than normally expected of cafe food.
“We try to offer good quality proteins, less carbohydrates – freshness and balance, presented in a highly visible, “production on display” environment.
“Why care deeply about the ‘direct’ trade of coffee while ignoring the source of your bacon, and being unclear about how it’s being prepared in house?”
With this in mind, the menu changes seasonally to celebrate ingredients that are flourishing in Victoria at a particular time of year.
Auction Rooms have strong relationships with local suppliers. All their waste is composted on-site and returned to their local fresh produce suppliers afterwards.
“We are blessed at Auction Rooms to have an amazing Head Chef, Surjit “Eddi” Athwal, who seems to have a million ideas a minute. Needs and concepts can also be brought to the table by our tight management team and realised in the kitchen by Eddie and his team.
“There are certain dishes we have designed with some of our coffee in mind.
“The Pressed pork shoulder with white bean puree, morcilla, shaved bone marrow, pickled carrots, sweet potato crisps and a slow-poached egg is designed to go particularly well with filter coffee and our Breakfast board of grilled chorizo, ocean trout croquette, feta, avocado puree, a soft-boiled egg with rye soldiers comes with a choice of a black or white Iced Coffee as part of the board.
“Our Banana & walnut loaf with espresso mascarpone, banana yoghurt and coffee crumb is also made using our Candyman blend.”
For brunch, we tried the Chilaquiles which are toasted corn tortillas served with a salsa roja, cheese curd, black beans and a fried egg. Topped off with a side of pulled pork, these were like a cleaner, breakfast version of nachos, with bold flavours and a lot of punch.
We also sampled the corned beef brisket with potato hash, cabbage and leek, poached eggs and Sriracha hollandaise sauce. While this was a much richer, heavier option for breakfast, it was well balanced with creaminess from the eggs and hollandaise, acidity from the leek, freshness from the cabbage and a hearty hit of beef and potato.
But what would Fisher recommend off the menu?
“I love the Pan-seared rockling on soft omelette with spinach puree, green tomato salsa and house rye.
“And a local favourite, is the ‘Knuckle Sandwich’, which is braised pork knuckle, piccalilli and aged cheddar on an Auction Rooms’ white bun with daily salad.”
Tarn Fisher’s top tips for making an excellent coffee at home:
- Good coffee is about transparency. You want to be able to taste the coffee first and foremost. The addition of milk and/or sugar, the brewing method, the roast style; all of these should not be overpowering or obvious. Filter coffee is our favourite.
- Spend most of your budget on buying a good quality grinder, and then find the cheapest brewing device you can, with what you have left.
- Then buy coffee from the best roaster you can find that is roasted fresh and in-season. A $50 Aeropress with a $300 grinder will far out-perform a $300 espresso machine and a $50 grinder.
North Melbourne VIC 3051
Ph 03 9326 7749