Top Paddock is already one of Melbourne's standout cafes with its spacious modern fit out and extensive imaginative menu. Meeting here in a trendy part of Richmond with my salubrious brother (Melbourne businessman and food critic extraordinaire) we commented that "these people know what they're doing". And they surely do being of the stable of Three Bags Full, APTE and Two Birds One Stone - some of the best cafes in Melbourne. Chatting with one of the owners Nathan Toleman at the restaurant, the team have pulled their experience from the other cafes and have even progressed the cafe concept.
What I love is that the team have not reproduced their earlier successes but sought to give Top Paddock its own identity. In the early days of Three Bags Full it seemed there were similarities with the menu of stalwart APTE. Which is fine. But here at Top Paddock the menu options are distinctive and even exploring new ground. Kudos.
Top Paddock has a light and airy feel with plenty of space (and is accessible with nearby parking) and great use of timber paneling and modern fittings. Some serious coin has gone into the layout and to great effect. Top Paddock has a superb ambience for romantic escapades or catching up with friends. Check out the tiling along the wall, dark timber floor, semi industrial ceiling, cool world music (at the time) and the cute display cabinets with treats. The spacious outdoor area is also alluring on a fresh Melbourne morning.
I waited at the communal table weighing up where to sit for our catch up - but soon realised this place was filling fast on a Saturday morning so grabbed a table on the top level.
This is not predictable cafe fare. Head Chef Jesse McTavish is on fire with inventive dishes and sources his own ingredients. We were impressed with the Top Paddock menu options, most of which are available all day. Many brunch menus in Melbourne appeal to me with 2 or 3 standouts from the litany of choices - here at Top Paddock it was a case of 6 or 7 intriguing possibilities. If you feel like Muesli or Fruit Toast then go for it - there is always a group that are wanting simple options. Ricotta hotcakes with blueberries, maple, seeds and organic mascarpone beckon. Then there's the Pulled pork on rye with prunes, leaves and goats curd. Tempting.
Further dowm the menu there are even more exotic choices such as Kingfish with chilli fried egg, avocado, salsa and lime and blue corn tortilla. Or the Three mushroom omelette. Something of a signature dish has been the Soft shell fresh Qld mud crab roll with fennel, dill, lime mayonnaise in a brioche bun. Not to mention the Top Paddock breakfast with house made sausage, pickled onion, bacon, Adelaide green tomatoes, poached eggs and relish on toast. And the list goes on...
Yet we ordered the Gin and lime cured ocean trout with beetroot relish, potato galette, poached eggs, leaves, and goats curd with toast (as pictured below). This was a sensational dish visually, and the cured ocean trout was divine. The potato galette went superbly with the trout as did the acidity of the relish. Cracker.
The waiter recommended the White anchovies and jamon serrano with fried eggs, pedron peppers, and manchego on toast. I admit I expected a few key but tasty ingredients on a small choice slice of toast. I was delightfully wrong. Another generous portion of gourmet delights with visual appeal. Garnish heaven. The white anchovies brought a hit of salty seafood but not overpowering as they seemed to be cured. The fried eggs were cooked to perfection and went superbly with the anchovies. The highlight was the generous amount of quality jamon. Yeah baby. The pedron peppers (wonderfully slightly blackened) were delicious as was the manchego Spanish cheese. Of course all this came with quality bread. A Spanish style breakfast that was for me one of the best I've had in Melbourne.
And my breakfast was enhanced by a superb side plate of the house made sausage. Even that came with garnish.
Top Paddock excels in so many areas, including the coffee. The coffee devotee can grab a filtered coffee. My strong latte had a great crema and hit the mark (we enjoyed 2 lattes each). They even offer the soy coffee option that frustrates some baristas in Melbourne - but come on, the customer is king.
Check out Top Paddock's signature mud crab roll below on sexy brioche - indulgent and popular...
Top Paddock also excels with its cakes and desserts...
Little things make all the difference. Top Paddock even offers a kid's breakfast egg and bacon on toast for only $6.50 - they know what customers are looking for... Pleasing to me was the opportunity for reasonably priced side plates, fresh juices on offer and reasonably priced mineral water. Yes and wait staff provide table service here. And did I mention there was a Pork belly and fried egg roll with relish for $12 and a killer Steak sandwich - dude food heaven - and on my bucket list.
Top Paddock has gone to the top of the charts for me and I left the place raving. I have a few other loves in Richmond I will be faithful to no doubt. But I found Top Paddock compelling. The crew from Three Bags Full etc haven't come here half baked but fully loaded. This is a serious culinary destination.