If I could express my feelings about Richmond’s Pillar of Salt in the style of Anchorman’s Ron Burgandy (in which the word scotch actually means Pillar of Salt) it would go something like this: ‘Scotch, scotch, scotch, I love scotch, scotch in my belly.’ You get me? Good.

Talking of songs, what was that one about needing good neighbours? Well, this always-full-to-bursting cafe certainly has those (foodie neighbours, that is) with Royal Saxon and Church Street Enoteca just minutes away. Bringing some daytime and weekend hustle and bustle to this otherwise slightly sterile strip of Church Street – which is just north of the river, still a few blocks away from Swan Street and Bridge Road, and home to a plethora of home furnishings stores.

The first time we visited it was still the depths of a cold and windy Melbourne winter, so we snuck inside and feasted on steak sandwich with beetroot and horseradish relish, roasted Roma tomatoes, Jack’s mature-aged cheddar and snow pea tendrils ($18) and eggs Benedict, with ham off the bone and apple cider hollandaise on toasted brioche ($16). In between oohs and aahs and slurps of yummy 5 Senses coffee (house blend: 50% Brazilian Amanzonia; 30% Ethiopian Yirgacheiffe; 20% Costa Rican Turrazu), Photomonkey was heard to proclaim it the best steak sandwich ever, while my notoriously high standards for eggs Benedict, which have been discussed extensively before (see our The Outpost review), were happily met. Success. Warm and friendly service, if a little chaotic, and top-notch lamingtons. We were reluctant to leave.

We returned a few weeks ago to show our Sydneysider friend what a Melbourne brunch was all about. The weather even put on a show and we sat at high tables in the pot plant-studded courtyard – a gorgeous bright space with stone walls and wooden tabletops and benches. Once again the service was a little all over the place – bit of a wait to place our order – but the Bloody Mary and freshly squeezed OJ sent our hangovers packing while corn fritters, smoked salmon, coriander and avocado salsa ($16 + poached egg $18) were right on the money.

One member of our party ordered the homemade smoky borlotti bean bruschetta, with avocado and Persian feta puree, served with a poached egg, parsley dressing and shaved grana padano ($16.50) and was disappointed. He isn’t normally a beans man, so maybe this is an issue of personal taste as opposed to cooking competency, but I must admit the beans were a tad undercooked making the whole dish, quite literally, a bit of a mushy mouthful. When we pointed out the problem the dish was quickly ushered away and removed from the bill. Simple, so no dramas there.

This is a smart but warm fit out – the interior especially looks pretty upmarket with its black-and-white stripped awning, but the wide open windows soon dispel any hint of Richmond-esque exclusivity. It looks like the breakfast and lunch menus have a lot more to offer, so come rain or shine, we will be back!

Pillar of Salt

541 Church Street

Richmond 3121 Tel: (03) 9421 1550

Hours:

Monday-Friday: 7:30am-5:30pm

Saturday: 8am-5pm

Sunday: 8am-5pm

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