We had a fairly bad experience with Top Paddock previously when we got there one weekend. It was quite busy, we were ignored by the waitstaff for quite a while (literally ignored, not ‘please wait’ just plain straight walking past back and forth without paying us any attention) and once we were seated, the venue was incredibly noisy due to it having lots and LOTS of bare walls with no noise absorber whatsoever. So we basically decided to walk out at the time as Josh is fairly sensitive to bad acoustics (it gives him a terrible headache.) But I was quite determined to eat there because I have heard so many good things about this place and bad acoustics doesn’t bother me as much. So I needed a new tactic – I needed a brunch date who wasn’t Josh and I needed to be there on a week day.
The opportunity presented itself when Mum was in town and we were on our way to Australian Open to see Roger Federer playing the second round against Simone Bolleli. Sure, Top Paddock isn’t exactly walking distance to Rod Laver Arena but it mattered not because I wanted to eat at Top Paddock, damn it. Luckily this time, we found parking easily (unlike last time when we had to pay exorbitant parking for a meal we didn’t eat – yeah still grumpy about that) and we were greeted nicely by the waitstaff and were seated in a nice sunny spot. A much better start this time. The venue itself is actually quite spacious and gorgeously fitted out – but yes the acoustics when busy really were absolutely atrocious (my friend pointed out, when I told her about this that I am old, I am. I admit it.)
(Flat white – $3.80)
We were in a bit of a rush for the tennis but service was quite prompt and we didn’t have to wait long for coffee and food. We peruse the menu (and obviously I wanted to order everything but it was breakfast and we could only eat so much.) Mum decided to order the soft shell crab (first picture – Queensland soft shell mud crab & salad with lime mayonnaise on a brioche bun – $21) because I may have suggested that it’s one of their more popular dishes. Okay, I wanted to try it. It was really quite good. It was the meatiest, juiciest, best soft shell crab I ever had and the salad, mayo and the bun all complimented each really nicely.The only complaint about it is that the soft shell crab itself was overly salted.
(Local snapper with chilli-fried egg, avocado, tomato, lime and corn tortilla -$19.50)
I decided on the snapper and while it was the prettier dish of the two and was quite good, I found this dish to be a bit scattered. There was nothing to tie all the ingredients together but the ingredients were definitely of good quality and I did enjoy the dish although I wouldn’t recommend it. The same complaint as the soft shell crab applied, the snapper pieces were over-salted. Whoever on the seafood duty that day must have been fairly heavy handed. The coffee was fantastic though.
So despite a fault start, and a few things that weren’t quite right, we enjoyed having a nice coffee and brunch in a lovely space on that sunny day. The food focused itself on really good ingredients and the prices reflect that. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back and sample a few more dishes there in the future.
Top Paddock Cafe [ Web Site ]
Address: 658 Church St., Richmond VIC 3121
Phone: 03 9429 4332
Hours: Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm, weekends & public holidays 8am – 4pm
Public Transport: Trams 78 & 79 (right out front), East Richmond Train Station (700m)