Disclaimer: Winston and his sister dined as a guest of Streat Cafe. All opinions are honest and based on own personal experience at the time.
Pictures of their team on their wall... Nice
Miso and Shiitake Broth, Crispy Tofu, Roast Eggplant, Soft Boiled Egg and Soybean Chilli Paste - $16
Lamb in Filo Pastry - $18
Fried egg, wilted kale and carrot, smoked almond yoghurt
Weekend Special - $18
Osaka Breakfast, Okonomiyaki pancake, wagyu scotch eggs, wakame salad with yuzu dressing
The people behind Streat had contacted me a few weeks ago to come into their cafe in Flemington to try out their new Autumn menu.
Now, I have heard of Streat prior to this after seeing a few of their popups around the city. I know that Streat is a non for profit (NFP) organisation that strives to provide youths from troubled backgrounds around Melbourne with various tools to increase their life skills and hopefully turn their life around. They are a fully functioning cafe chain which serves to fund all these initiatives. Having done my fair share of volunteer work at other NFP organisations (like Engineers Without Borders) during my time at university, I definitely have deep respect for the work that they do.
On a separate note, they did express preference that this post be more about their food instead of their social work. Good on them for wanting honest and constructive feedback so they can find ways to improve (a great attitude to have for business owners).
As for my experience at Streat, what struck me first was their menu. I think they have got a good variety of dishes for people to choose from in terms of quantity of options (without being too overwhelming). Besides that, I also noticed that there were Asian influences in several of their dishes (probably due to the fact one of their chefs was of Japanese descent), which I thought was a refreshing change to see. In terms of offerings, I liked what I was seeing already.
To start, I found the food to be fair but definitely had room for improvement. Coffee was good. The Japanese soup dish with crispy tofu was great. The broth had great depth of flavour and umami. The roasted eggplant inside was just so tender and flavourful as well. The lamb filo dish was rather tasty but did come out a bit dry, maybe needed a runnier kind of sauce to go with it instead of yoghurt? Finally, I liked the idea behind the weekend special. It was an enjoyable dish to eat but I'm not entirely sure about the presentation of it.
Overall, I think the food at Streat Cafe was pretty good to start with but has potential to be taken to the next level. They had the right idea behind the menu, with the flavours to match. Some minor improvements to be made with execution. Finally, maybe even pimp up the plating and presentation a little bit by playing around with different plates, giving the food more height and detail on garnishes? For me, this last point is something I don't really mind but because the standard of cafes in Melbourne has become exceptionally high these days (picture perfect food everywhere, with lots of colourful edible flowers even) that I know what other people's expectations are. Truthfully, I know that enhancing their presentation is definitely something that they need to do if they want to be a major player and make themselves more competitive.
I enjoyed my meal at Streat Cafe and can see that they are doing pretty well in Flemington. They're on the right track already so I wish them an even bigger and better success in the future!