Brunch · Melbourne · Sweet Treats


If I were to describe Nora in 1 word, it would be ‘abstract’. Nora is not quite your average Melburnian cafe with poached eggs, smashed avocado, toast or usual espressos and let me show you why…

This cafe first came on my radar when Andrew chanced upon it while walking home from uni. He tried a coffee there and said the menu looked interesting. So that was the first time I caught wind of this cafe and shelved it somewhere in my memory bank.

The next time, I read this and I was intrigued. I’m a huge fan of Ottolenghi and my friends, if he is impressed by this newcomer in the Melbourne cafe scene, there’s got to be something about this place.

So from the back of memory bank, I pushed it out and to make it top on my wishlist. And that’s how we wound up here!

The very interesting menu
Nora is run by a Thai-Australian couple and the Southeast Asian influences can be seen in the menu

So what gives Nora that interesting edge?

4 reasons.

Firstly, you don’t get tap water. 


Surprise surprise, this is the first cafe where I’m served FREE sparkling water. I guess that makes the experience pretty novel but some of my brunch companions don’t like sparkling water and requested for tap water.

Secondly, do not expect your normal lattes/flat whites/cappuccinos etc.

On the Rocks & Saigon - $4 each
On the Rocks & Saigon – $4 each

I came in a little late and was immediately asked for my coffee order. A little flustered from the brisk walk I had just made, I instinctively asked for a magic. However, upon sitting down and studying the menu carefully, I realised that their other offerings were a lot more unusual!

So I promptly changed my order to On the Rocks – was perfect for the hot morning too!

At first taste, I found the cold brew coffee really bitter. I made that comment and the lady boss heard me. Immediately, she offered to make a sugar syrup to go with the coffee. (Wow is that good service or what??)

Trying out the sugar syrup
Trying out the sugar syrup

That sugar syrup made a world of a difference! After adding it, the coffee became really pleasant to drink. The use of sparkling water also made it quite refreshing. I would liken it to an iced kopi-O but with a bolder taste coming from the espresso. I reckon they should consider giving the sugar syrup to customers who order this particular coffee!

As for the Saigon, it had that Asian dimension with the pandan taste coming through. It also tasted really refreshing and was like an iced kopi 🙂

Thirdly, it’s not your typical brunchfare. 

Just look at the dish presentations... how artsy are they??
Just look at the dish presentations… how artsy are they??

We totally weren’t expecting the dishes that were set before us. I mean, we kind of knew what we were getting, but not presented like that!

Martin's place - $18
Martin’s place – $18

This was Andrew’s dish which had ox tongues. He let us try a bit and the tongues were really tender.

Dear Mitchell - $14.50
Dear Mitchell – $14.50

This was eggs with a Thai twist and I thought the flavours went well together. The flavours were sharp and fresh with the fried shrimps and spring onions. The eggs were also done in a custard-like way which I thought was quite creative.

The only thing that we found lacking in this dish was a little sauce. So overall, it was a little dry.

Pig from the ground it's raised from - $18.50
Pig from the ground it’s raised from – $18.50

The first thing that came to my mind when I saw this was, why is the plate only half-filled? I can’t say I’m a big fan of this particular dish presentation as it makes the portion looks smaller.

As you can tell from the above, this comes with a side of bread pudding and raw cabbage with peanut sauce. Again, the flavours were sharp and clean that countered the fatty pork. But again, overall we found the dish quite dry.

So yes, you getting my point now about Nora having an abstract edge? Have to give them props for thinking out of the box in terms of the food and presentation!

Lastly, CHARCOAL TARTS. Enough said. 

Charcoal Tarts - $5 each
Charcoal Tarts – $5 each

Haha again, we were given a surprise when this was presented to us. I don’t know about you, but because of the tins, it reminded me of chee kueh, served upside down!

Charcoal Tarts unveiled - Sour Cherry & Kafir Lime Cream, Lemon Grass & Ginger, Strawberry & Tamarind Cream Cheese
Charcoal Tarts unveiled – Sour Cherry & Kafir Lime Cream, Lemon Grass & Ginger, Strawberry & Tamarind Cream Cheese

So before Nora, there were these charcoal tarts that were already making their way round other Melbourne cafes and getting famous. Ottolenghi even made special mention of them – so what’s the deal with these tarts?

Upclose with the Sour Cherry & Kafir Lime Cream
Upclose with the Sour Cherry & Kafir Lime Cream

As exotic-sounding as those ingredients are, all 3 Charcoal Tarts were lip-smackingly delicious. They all had great combinations of flavours and we had a hard time deciding which was our favourite tart. All 3 we tried that day were winners!

And the thing is, the offerings of the charcoal tarts are different each day so there are more flavours to try out!

We also realised that the tarts were carefully divided into 5 portions, for each of us (as you can see above) – that’s really thoughtful service 🙂

So yes, Nora is quite your atypical Melbourne cafe, for the reasons given above!

Although I was not particularly blown away by their brunchfare, I thought the food was still quite interesting. I was also quite impressed by their personable service, which made our experience at Nora quite pleasant.

Their cold-brewed coffees were pretty good as well, and yes, I was most excited by their charcoal tarts!

So I reckon it’s worth checking out Nora for ’em famous tarts, and just chill over 1 of their cold-brewed coffees. With the weather warming up, it would be the perfect excuse for a cuppa cold coffee and tart for a treat!

Nora on Urbanspoon

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