Monday, June 11, 2012


Before I talk about Beatrix, I have to explain omakase.
The word omakase means "up to you" to Japanese.
It's what sophisticated customers say to the chef when they sit in front of the sushi bar: an invitation to present what he thinks are the best ingredients of the day(and also to show off his skills).

Now, Beatrix is a tiny little cafe in North Melbourne.
Every Wednesday the owner uploads a picture of their weekly special on their facebook page, and that's it: one special ciabatta a day.
Sometimes it's Sydney Road, a ciabatta with pumpkin falafel. Other days it's Rocky, a prosciutto and ham inspired sandwich. Perhaps she's got a nice rack of lamb shoulder for the week, hence she made Sampson with a killer coleslaw. If you're lucky you get their own rendition of the Vietnamese Bahnmi - coconut infused chicken with shredded carrot and cucumber. My favourite is the Wanda - smoked ocean trout with steamed potato and roasted tomato with beans on olive mayo with egg. Actually, no, my favourite is Fryday - crumbed flathead with paprika served with almond skordalia. I went there 3 days out of 3 when it was offered.

Apparently their cakes are awesome too. I'm really not a cake person, but the first time I saw their lemon chiffon cake I had to order it because it took me back to my childhood. While researching for this post, I realized food bloggers actually rave more about their cakes than the ciabattas. I beg to differ for obvious reasons. 
I hate it when celebrity chefs are asked about their success, they say something like 'oh I just source the best quality ingredient I can find'. (It's like a photographer saying 'my secret is the most expensive camera') That's not what professional chefs do, that's what mothers do. It's total bullshit. But that, in a nutshell, is what Beatrix is all about.
It isn't exactly omakase, but the confidence is there. It is not easy to pull this off. You have one seating with the customers to make the impression that the quality is consistent. I enjoyed the chicken sandwich today, and I trust that the pulled pork sandwich tomorrow will be equally awesome. It's like going home to mum. You do not question the tender loving care she puts in your food. 

One time I found a hair in my sandwich, and I contemplated letting it slide.
Now that's brand loyalty.