For a cafe that’s not on a high street or eating/shopping strip, The Stables of Como is one super-busy eatery.
It’s a spacious place (though not cavernous) and on a weekday lunch hour there was still a queue for an indoor or outdoor table. And it wasn’t just the ladies-who-lunch and the yummy-mummies of Toorak and South Yarra turning up. I saw hipsters! Hipsters at a National Trust property!
For The Stables of Como is not just any old cafe. It’s located amongst the beautiful landscaped gardens of Como House, a 160 year old property just minutes from urban Melbourne, and is housed in, you guessed it, the former stables of the grand mansion.
Perhaps the reason people are making The Stables of Como a dining destination is because of its pedigree. The group behind Eastern suburb favourites Porgie + Mr. Jones, Snow Pony and Friends of Mine are the people behind the cafe and the diverse menu, friendly smiling staff and attention to detail in the decor demonstrate their hospitality experience.
On a sunny day the picnic benches resting on fake turf are in hot demand, but the interior decoration is just as beautiful. Enamel pendant light shades, white bentwood chairs and elegant floral arrangements offset chalkboard walls, a back shelf groaning with colour-coordinated jars of produce…and one huge wooden bench beckoning you with glass-domed cakes, biscuits and pastries, like a grown-up version of a toddler’s birthday party lolly table.
The kitchen offers all day breakfast menu and lunch dishes which start at 12 midday. I opted for a main serve size of a spring risotto, a velvety mix of rice, spanner crab and fennel, finished off with prosecco and herbed marscapone for extra decadence ($24.90).
My dining companion Gourmet Chick had the Tuna Nicoise ($24.90), an outrageously large slab of just-seared tuna served with a mix of vegetables, a drizzle of smoky lemon vinaigrette and crowned with an oozy soft-boiled egg.
As I mentioned before it is well worth saving room for dessert. We shared a frangipane and blueberry tart ($5.50) which was very pretty but too dry, leaving a rather unpleasant mealy texture in the mouth.
A better option was the orange Bergamot NY baked cheesecake with gingerbread ice cream ($13.90). I have not had a New York baked cheesecake since those solid doorstopper cakes were all the range in the 90s, but this is a very good version – not too heavy, not too light, just right and with a hint of citrus to spike the dairy richness. The gingerbread crumbs and ice cream also elevated it above the norm.
Other old-fashioned treats which will be sure to appeal to children or those with a fondness for sweets that hark back to sticky childhoods include the musk sticks ($1.90) and giant chocolate freckle ($2.50).
If you’re visiting Como House and Gardens but don’t fancy a sit-down mea, The Stables of Como offers picnic packs and you can even rent a croquet set, frisbee and rugs to loll on! What a beautiful way to spend a day (and from 22-24 November the Paris to Provence French Festival will be taking over the grounds as well – check out my review of last year’s event).
Sunday, 10am until 5pm
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