Located in South Melbourne along Bank St, right next to the South Melbourne town hall. This was an unexpected stop for me this weekend, as my original intention was to locate Emerald Hill. There were sufficient patrons seated down to warrant a try, not to mention I had already gotten quite hungry seeking brunch at lunch time!
Overall, Zappa was a good experience, and I wonder why it is rating so low on Urbanspoon. Perhaps the inconsistency of service and food is an issue, but I would have to return several times in future to determine this on my own. But on this occassion, I found the waitress friendly and attentive while the food was certainly above expectations for the relatively cheaper price tags (don’t forget, we are in South Melbourne afterall).
Given the proximity to St Ali, it is natural to make a comparison of all the coffees in the vacinity. I had previously given the Chez Dre coffee the thumbs up, and I am doing the same for Zappa with certain caveats. The flat white I had was actually one of the better ones I’ve experienced in the area. Served at a good temperature, not scalded or burnt, my main complaint about it was that it was too milky which masked most of the coffee flavour.
I had the Eggs Hollandaise, which is an odd option given the Italian inclination of this cafe but I wasn’t aware of this aspect until I was paying the bill. The eggs were prepared very well, lovely runny yolks to ooze over the crusty bread. I found the hollandaise sauce too buttery though, which battled with the yolk for flavour dominance in my mouth. But if anything, the hollandaise was a good substitute for mustard for the extra sausage ($4) I ordered. I don’t know if Zappa buys the sausages or makes them themselves, but I was pleasently surprised by how lean and meaty it was. There was little fat which usually makes for a dry boring sausage, but it was grilled close to perfection with sufficient juices retained within.
The other interesting item on the menu is Purgatory. This was described as being loaded with chilli, and I’m guessing this might be an indicator of Southern Italian cuisine which typically uses plenty of chilli peppers. Points have to be given for the interesting appearence, and you’d be lying if you told me such a dish is anything but visually uncommon, if not rare, on your breakfast/lunch table. I have to admit I was initially a little disappointed for the lack of heat in this dish. But I did enjoy the combination of flavours in this one – the large-ish piece of flat bread with the wonderful, tasty tomato sauce/relish (quite generous in serving portion too), topped with spinach, eggs and cheese. The runny egg yolks were a nice contrast to the lighter flavours because it provided some body for the more diffuse tomato sauce and spinach.
I’d be quite happy to make future visits to Zappa. Again, I think it deserves more than it’s current 74% on Urbanspoon, and a major plus is that you can sidestep any jostling for tables that is prevalent at the other cafes, especially those closer to South Melbourne market.