You know a café is going to be good when you walk in and join a long queue of people to wait for a table and that's exactly what happened at Au79 on the weekend. Named after the symbol for gold and true to its name, Au79 produces gold in every aspect of their dining experience.
We weren't quite prepared for what we were to encounter at this popular café in Abbotsford and due to that exact popularity, bookings could only be made at certain times so we just had to wing it and hope for a table.
We arrived at around 11.30am and the Maître D greeted us at the door with a list. He immediately told us there would be around a 30 minute wait and then added our name to the list as we squeezed in to the queue. Something that is very important at any café or restaurant is keeping your customer's informed and these guys did it very well. When the expectation is set straight away, people will usually be happy to wait as they did at Au79. We didn't see anyone decide to leave and the system they had in place was well structured and allowed them to move through the queue as quickly as possible. While waiting we were able to grab a takeaway coffee from the counter which kept our hungry stomachs happy.
While waiting, we could definitely see why this place was so popular. Firstly, the interior was beautiful. The café itself is very large and encompasses a front and back section. It is covered in luscious greenery which makes it feel like you a dining in a modern greenhouse.
Also on display behind big glass windows are rooms where they make their own beautiful cakes, tarts and bread as well as their own coffee blend. We couldn't help but have a peak as one of the staff members iced the macaroons like a pro and we loved that these items were made in-house adding to the vibrant atmosphere of the place.
We were seated within the half hour down the back end of the café. There are plenty of tables on offer and lots of space which makes for a great dining experience. The high ceilings make it feel really open and spacious as well as the windows for natural light. When we first arrived there were 200 people seated which gives you a sense of just how big it is.
The waitress was very friendly and also apologised for the wait. She made sure water was at our table immediately (yusss!) and checked for drinks. We didn't have to wait long for our food order to be taken and we had already checked out the menu while waiting so we knew what we wanted.
We opted for the Smashed Avocado for $18 (served with salted ricotta, chilli dukkah, rice crisps, fresh lime, two poached eggs and toasted rye sourdough) and the Hazelnut Belgium waffle for $19 (served with milk chocolate & hazelnut mousse, chocolate egg, hazelnut praline, banana compote, citrus gel, raspberries and fresh orange). The only downside to our visit was that we were not told how long the food would take. We expected there to be a wait as it was busy but it would have been great to have said when taking our order that the wait would be 45minutes and kept us updated as well because our stomachs were grumbling and we kept turning around to see when it was coming.
When we eventually did get the food, it was presented beautifully and looked delicious. What excited us especially about the smashed avocado was the bread. There's something special about homemade bread and it really added to the dish. The eggs were poached perfectly and the different textures from the crunch of the dukkah and rice crisps made for a delightful mouthful. The ratios were perfect and all the flavours were well-balanced and we demolished it within minutes.
The Belgium waffle was a piece of art and that hazelnut chocolate egg was on another level. The waffle itself had a slight crunch on the outside with a nice fluffy middle, exactly how a waffle should be. The mousse was exquisite and the crack of the chocolate egg was tantalising on the tastebuds. It was quite a sweet dish, but the fruit gave it a lovely freshness and balance.
So as the name suggests, Au79 is gold. As a reasonably new café to the Melbourne scene, these guys really know what they are doing and everything has been thought out carefully. The atmosphere is really lively, the service is great and the food is beautifully presented and delicious. The coffee was great and they also had a range of healthy smoothie options on offer. Prices are on par with what you would expect to pay and portion sizes mean great value for money. These guys are also popular for their turmeric and matcha lattes although we were not game enough to try them this time around.
Our only tip would be to expect a wait on the weekends as it is very popular but worth the visit. On your way out, don't forget to grab a loaf of sourdough to take home for later, you won't regret it. We can't wait to head back!