Penta in Elsternwick (Melbourne)

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This part of Melbourne town is seeing some noise in its recent offering of good cafes. I’ve written about Glovers Station (which is one of the favourites on The Hungry Wolf and an absolute must). A couple of minutes away, we have Penta. It is completely different in feel and menu to Glovers but it surely serves up the goods. Penta may be a rather newly opened cafe, but it’s owners are not new to the game at all. Amongst them are a string of other relatively well known places but I’ll set those aside for now.

Depending on how you skew when it comes to interiors, you may all at once fall in love with how this place is done up or you may be looking for a bit more to convince yourself of a return. Penta goes fully minimalistic in concept and stays true to that white/grey/wood palette. Being a lover of all things Scandinavian, even I have to say Penta may seem a bit slightly too bare. I like the round table at the back, the concrete like benches and I really like the coffee machine. I’m not too sure about the exposed pipeworks in the ceiling and perhaps a few other tweaks would give the place a warmer feel.

Food-wise, I know many have raved about the Beetroot Bagel (it’s all over the Internet) – and you should order it this sort of thing floats your boat. I am a Nutella fan, and so my eyes were firmly set on one particular dish that I’ve not seen or tasted anywhere else: NUTELLA PANNA COTTA. It’s served with a nut butter banana sushi, honey crumb, strawberries, pomegranate molasses and torched marshmallow. And this may come as good news to many, it’s gluten free! This dish was everything I hoped it would be and more. First off, it came looking so beautiful that I think I spent too long taking photos instead of diving straight in (please forgive me of this sin). Every spoonful of the panna cotta screamed hazelnut and chocolate, and eating it together with the rest of the dish gave an incredibly varied but harmonious mouthfeel. The only thing questioned was perhaps the inclusion of too many (oversized) flowers.

Other dishes were of remarkably high standard too.

Clockwise from top left: Chilli Scrambled Eggs, Braised Pulled Lamb, Sides of Potato Parmesan Rosti and Mushrooms, Penta Benedict

I’d like to call out in particular two other must try dishes which were absolutely sensational – Sriracha Grilled Salmon and Orange Blossom Hotcakes. The grilled salmon was cooked to perfection with enough of caramelisation for added flavour. What won me over was the zucchini noodles, a clever touch of freshness and an interesting way to eat vegetables. Hotcakes are, by now, an overdone thing on cafe menus. Note to cafes: Just because they’re called hotcakes doesn’t mean that they’ll sell like them, you know? So it was an absolute pleasure that chef Nicky Campbell has designed her take of this dish to taste so lip-smackingly good. One of the best hotcakes I have ever tasted!

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Coffee is reasonably good.

You need to eat at Penta. It’s a no brainer.

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Penta
28 Riddell Parade
Elsternwick
Phone: +61 (3) 9523 0716

See how this cafe ranks on The Hungry Wolf’s list of Melbourne’s Best Cafes!

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