St Ali, like the aforementioned fine morning establishements was packed when I presented myself with one other hungry and thirsty soul. The wait time I was advised would be a mere fifteen minutes which passed quickly. The eatery is housed in what appears to be a converted warehouse on a side-street in South Melbourne that shows some of the typical Melbourne "character" that the locals have come to appreciate and almost expect. Metal roller doors act as windows and the loading dock when opened exposes part of the dining room. The place is easy to find if you keep an eye out for a crowd hanging outside a random building on Yarra Place.
When our name was called and we were shown to our place at a communal table, the hostess immediately asked if we would be keen to order coffee. I thought that was very efficient as normally you are seated and wait a while for the pleasure.
The place had a good vibe with background music that did not intrude, but yet complimented the environment. The staff actually smiled when you dealt with them and everyone in general that worked there looked like they were enjoying themselves which was remarkable if not refreshing in the morning. Posters for the Big Day Out 2013 are affixed to the wall and the menu even has a Big Day Out theme which made me fondly recall concerts from yesteryear, which I thought was fun and convenient enough for those who haven't thought about the forthcoming festival which is touring in January 2013. You have the opportunity to purchase a ticket direct from St Ali along with a premium beef burger for the package price of $165. One stop shopping indeed.
The clever menu highlights a breakfast called My Mexican Cousin, which inspired the name of the restaurant at the Melbourne Theatre Company. Despite being intrigued as what could be so delectable that would cause the naming of a restaurant when I also like, I chose the Full Spanglish ($21.50) breakfast which included two eggs cooked at 63c for 63 minutes, house beans, blood sausage, Istra bacon, portobello mushrooms and house-dried tomato on sourdough. Freshly squeezed juices complement the one-source coffee, which lives up to expectations and the plaudits as so many of the "cool kids" that have recommended this place told me to go for the coffee (and to stop walking to St Kilda for my poor alternatives) and I wholeheartedly now agree with them. I may have to start wandering by for takeaway coffee in the new year. Dining in, you are provided a small flask of hot water so you can make, in my case, your long black, as strong (or weak) as you want which I thought was a nice touch.
The food was served in a reasonable amount of time and when I requested another long black, it was delivered with a smile. The eggs on the sourdough were great and the blood sausage and gourmet quality bacon complimented them well. Such care was taken with the eggs (or at least it appeared so) that I thought I was holidaying on Hamilton Island at Qualia as that was the last time that eggs have made an impact on me not withstanding fights I had with them as a randy teenager on Halloween.
Paypass facilities made payment a quick one when we decided to go and I left feeling not only satisfied but a bit happier compared to when I arrived. For that alone, it was worth the money.
I am not sure that the "cool kids" will consider me one of their clique now that I have been to St Ali but I reckon I am a better person for having the experience. If you fancy driving to this place, be aware that on Sunday you can park on the street without having to worry about being fined as there are no parking restrictions on Sunday.
12 Yarra Place South Melbourne VIC 3205
(03) 9686 2990
My Rating: 13/20
Value For Money: 3/5
Comment: Unrestricted street parking on Sunday
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com
At the time of this post, 79% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also like St Ali.