My boyfriend and I have been all over Victoria’s vibrant food scene since we arrived six weeks ago. He’s on a vacation, so the natural thing to do is meet up with friends over brunch, grab a mid-afternoon coffee on your way to the next tourist trap, and give in to those summer ice cream cravings on hot nights. I can safely admit that we’ve been to nearly every restaurant worth checking out. It’s not surprising that our favourite meal to partake in is breakfast (or usually brunch by the time we get going. Hey, we’re on vacation after all!)
One of the first all-day breakfast haunts we visited was Mo:Lé Restaurant on Pandora Avenue. They serve up some mean eats from seasonal and local produce and create their menu with all patrons in mind. They have the classic omnivore options, but they also have specialized diet options for vegetarians, vegans, and celiacs. Mo:Lé is a place for all foodies and everything they make includes a heavy dose of love.
The restaurant is busy and loud; there’s always a small congregation of folks waiting outside for a table. They’re the typical “hole-in-the-wall” café that everyone seeks out because you know you’ll get some great service and good eats. The first word that comes to mind stepping over the threshold of Mo:Lé is “arty.” Festival and music posters adorn the walls and main counter, making you feel as if you’ve stepped into your funky college friend’s apartment. The staff is friendly and attentive but not pushy, which is a trait one always appreciates the morning after a long Saturday night.
First off, I do not recommend ordering any espresso coffees. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m spoiled, having gotten used to Melbourne standards, but I’m finding it very difficult to locate a good cappuccino in North America. I’m sure their drip coffee is decent, but both my cappuccino and my boyfriend’s latte tasted burnt. Next time, I’ll stick to their regular cup o’ joe.
Although the coffees were a bust, the brunch items were satisfying. I decided on the Smoked Fish Benedict with salmon ($16). I felt it lacked seasoning and could have done with a bit more lox, but the hollandaise was well balanced, creamy, and smooth, and the eggs were poached textbook perfect. The biscuit was fluffy and had tons of flavour, but the clear-cut winner of the dish was the pesto hashbrowns. If you order nothing else at Mo:Lé, make sure you order these delightful specimens. The potatoes are crisp on the outside with fluffy, tender interiors. Their pesto is sublime. Hint: if you top them with a little of their homemade hot sauce, you are in for a flavour explosion. Simply wonderful.
My boyfriend was also a huge fan of the pesto hashbrowns served with his Wild Smoked Salmon Scramble ($13.50). He enjoyed the scramble, but also thought it could have done with a bit more seasoning. Furthermore, the lemon-lime creme fraiche overpowered the salmon — the dish probably would have worked better with a more subtle, lemon-infused cream cheese. Overall, it was a fair meal, but we would pass on it a second time.
For all its popularity around town, I was a little disappointed in Mo:Lé. While their service is spectacular, I don’t think their food quite measured up to the hype. I was expecting to be blown away and was left standing in a slight breeze. While the pesto hashbrowns are something out of a dream, I feel their mains need a little bit of work to match them. I would visit Mo:Lé again, but maybe to check out their lunch menu and sample their cocktails. I have my eye on their Vodka Berry Iced Tea.
Note: Please be advised that I am not in any way affiliated with this restaurant and that the views expressed in this article are my personal opinions. I am not a professional critic; I am not receiving any endorsements or revenue from this review. I try to remain as honest as possible in all my restaurant reviews and recount my experiences as truthfully as possible.