From the outside and afar, Gardiner and Field is inconspicuous, and the old ice cream sign on the shingle doesn’t do anything but signal it may have been a corner shop at some point. There is ample parking unlike several blocks up the other way where it is difficult to maneuver between the people and the traffic, let alone find a spot to pull into.
Once inside, you’ll find a chic café with clean white walls and a minimalist appeal I’ve come to realize is rather typical in and around Melbourne.
Of course, another rather typical thing to do in Melbourne is to order coffees, and that is exactly what we do.
Between the four of us, we are able to try many items from the menu. Grilled Thai Chicken Salad (AUD$17) is a bean sprouts-heavy salad with shredded red cabbage, pickled vegetables, Thai basil, mint, and fried shallots, all tossed in a lime dressing. It is beautiful but unfortunately, a little flat in flavor. A little more garlic, fish sauce or lime juice — perhaps all — might have helped energize it a bit.
My son orders Souvlaki Sliders ($AUD$17), two slider sized Greek lamb souvlaki with cucumber, roasted red peppers, olive puree and garlic tzatziki, served with feta covered chips on the side. He says he prefers buns over the pita – obviously his American side coming through – but I really like its crispy texture as opposed to soft buns. The tzatziki and tapenade are perfect accompaniments for the lamb.
Pulled Beef Burger (AUD$18) is a sandwich stuffed with BBQ beef cheek, with accoutrements of whole grain mustard, American cheese, pickles, chipotle slaw and a side of Jerk chips (which we also order a side of).
My Avocado & Mint Smash (AUD$17) with a side of bacon (AUD$5) is exactly the type of food I enjoy on a regular basis. Two poached eggs, with chunks of Yarra Valley feta and mint served on sourdough toast, is garnished with radish discs and sprouts, pomegranate seeds and pepitas. At first, I am skeptical about the pomegranate seeds, but it adds acidity and crunch which works surprisingly well with the whole composition. The savory feta is enough to season the eggs without additional salt.
The Bowl of Jerk Seasoned Chips (AUD$7) is seriously addicting. It is super crispy on the outside with a soft interior. The jerk seasoning is not spicy like what we’re accustomed to, but is delicious piquant and hard to resist.
We end the meal by sharing the Waffles (AUD$15) from the specials “board, a Black Forest Tim Tam waffle with Chantilly cream and a honey whiskey syrup. Unfortunately, the waffles are dense and extremely doughy. It is also on the sweet side, although the fresh berries do help cut that with the acidity. The Chantilly cream is lovely though.
Many hits with only a little misses, Gardiner and Field is a quaint neighborhood joint to sit and enjoy coffee and maybe a bite of something to eat. If you’re in a hurry, there is a grab-n-go case to pick up a pastry and coffee – definitely grab a coffee, single origin is my choice!
Gardiner and Field
43 Union St
Armadale VIC 3143