This is how much I expected to love Miss Marmalade.

Monday. I borrow a car to drive through choc-a-block traffic on Alexandra Parade to meet my friend A there. On arrival, my baby vomits copiously on herself and on me. The mess is so bad that I have to drive home straight away without any lunch.

Three days later. I borrow a car to drive through choc-a-black traffic on Alexandra Parade. The second attempt at a lunch date is more successful and A and I have a great catchup while dangling babies on our knee.

But when it came down to writing this post I thought about it carefully and I have mixed feelings about Miss Marmalade.  I asked for A’s impression as well and her feelings confirmed that I hadn’t I enjoyed my meal enough to recommend it to anyone who (a) didn’t live locally (b) didn’t have kids. Frankly, it wasn’t worth special trip.

Firstly, my chai. I’ve had Calmer Sutra chai before and loved it. I’m not sure what the difference was in this version but it tasted quite weak. Pretty presentation though – love those double-sided Bodum glasses. Coffee is made with Five Senses beans.

The all day breakfast menu and lunch options all sounded so good I actually had trouble deciding what to order. In the end, I decided on a reasonably healthy option as I had a beady eye on dessert – marinated chicken salad Greek yoghurt, seeds, pomegranate with pumpkin fritters ($15.50). A ordered a toasted panini from one of a choice of five ($10.90).

Both meals came out promptly. My salad was, well, ok. The deep-fried fritters were a bit odd actually in both taste and texture, sort of like a vegetarian version of popcorn chicken. My overall impression was that it was a pretty forgettable dish, even though it contained my all-time favourite salad ingredient, pomegranate seeds. A’s sandwich was, in her words, also ok. While a sandwich is a simple thing to make, it can be done in spectacular fashion – but this one was not particularly exciting or remarkable.

Dessert was a slice of 80s-throwback peppermint crisp cheesecake. I had it sitting on the floor with our babies in the back room, which has a carpeted corner and furniture for little people with an exciting array of rattling, dangling objects in the toy box. The back room is very popular with parents groups and people with kids generally, so if you want to avoid that sort of crowd then be warned.

The cheesecake was a solid mass of baked cream cheese which felt like a heavy brick in my stomach. In fact, that’s how I would characterise all of our food that day – cooking that lacked finesse.

Not even that colourful toy box and kid-friendliness of the place could outweigh that fact for me. So I’m happy to let the parents of Brunswick have it to themselves.

I suspect I’m a dissenting voice in my assessment of Miss Marmalade – two of my reliable go-to food blogs Melbourne Gastronome and Food Rehab liked it and the Urbanspoon commenters rave about it. Maybe I should have stuck to the breakfast menu? Who knows.

Miss Marmalade, 126 Union St, Brunswick +61 3 9388 8202
Miss Marmalade on Urbanspoon