You can’t go wrong on Chapel Street for breakfast these days. From Two Lost Boys at the Windsor Station end all the way down to to Top Paddock by the Yarra, with the likes of Dukes, Two Birds, Oscar Cooper and Hobba peppered along every few steps it’s two golden miles of good eggs. But that’s not to say this joint, with its fizzing sodas, smoked meats and hotcakes isn’t adding some welcome excellence to the mix.
The blokes in charge at Plenty are Jason Chan and Chris Stock. Chan owns Balaclava’s favourite breakfast shack, Batch, and is one of the founders of West Winds Gin. Stock is the dude who used to ruin your Sundays with 6am Negronis at Collingwood’s short-lived, much-loved Hell Towers Saloon. That’s a lot of expertise taking aim at your breakfast.
Wander in off Chapel Street on a busy Saturday and they’re ready with a clipboard and coffees for queuers. There’s hip-hop, but it’s not too loud, and there are just enough sprays of leaves jutting out of a wire wall frame to keep the white, charcoal and raw metal space from looking utilitarian.
They don't go in for over-complicating things here, but this is a step up from the humble stuff of Batch. Your omelette is a wobbly golden burrito flecked with dill and little specks of fresh black truffle all rolled around freshly made ricotta. We get ours with bright pink rags of house-cured, hickory-smoked salmon. But then it could also be as simple as boiled eggs and soldiers, or a bowl of steel cut oats rolled to order for super-power retaining freshness, served with sour strained yoghurt.
They pull a predictably good coffee here with Supreme beans, but we prefer a ginger soda to fizz us into a state of high alert. Chan makes it with a lightly fermented syrup of fresh ginger and wattle seed so it’s spicy, dry and a little bit fusty – in a good way.
They’re also cranking out bittersweet lemonade and gingered-up vegetable juices, but we’re secretly hanging out for the liquor license to come through. Not only will it mean Bloody Marys with a pork floss garnish but they’ll also be opening a dedicated cocktail bar upstairs, thus creating a closed loop of deliciousness from which we might never escape.
Until then, morning comfort takes the form of a ricotta pancakes so thick and pillowy we’re tempted to lay cheek to plate. They serve that crisp-edged breakfast raft with a hail of pistachio nuts and a slowly melting notch of maple-infused butter.
Chan and Stock have big plans for Plenty and so do we. We’re coming back for their colossal brisket bun for starters. Pretty soon, they’ll also be doing dinners and hosting the odd Sunday knees-up in the courtyard with food trucks, music and beers. But forget later. There are plenty of good breakfast-shaped reasons to get in and go nuts right now.