DANDENONG RANGES & YARRA VALLEY

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Dandenong Ranges

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Amanda’s Cafe at Yarra Junction
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Phone: 03 5967 1593
Address: Shop3/2460 Warburton Hwy, Yarra Junction

Amanda’s Cafe

Amanda fired up her cafe in 2007 but started her culinary vocation working the floor at such institutions as Jean Jacques by the Sea and Stephanie’s. Family and cheese-making in France followed, then Amanda opened her eponymous concern, which is scattered with French prints, fresh bouquets and objets galore.

It makes sense that the cafe is called Amanda’s, as it is she who semaphores you into the blue-walled room, wrestles the till and can be heard praising the cook over yet another superbly hollandaised eggs florentine. The sure-handed cook used to fry them up at Wombat’s Chai cafe in Healesville until she was, er, poached.

Breakfast is indeed a standout here and includes poached eggs with a sumac-spiked Moroccan sauce, house-made dukkah and hummus-smeared bread from nearby Candlebark Bakery. There’s also lightly toasted, almond-studded muesli crowned with Hoddles Creek blackberries and yoghurt, warm milk optional.

The cafe is only open for breakfast and lunch and is closed on Sundays but Amanda has grand plans to expand both hours and horizons and has already set up tables on what was a weedy nook between the cafe and the neighbouring butchery and plans to establish a kitchen garden.

You can sit outside and have lunch ferried out: perhaps baked curry chicken pies with roast beetroot salad, or a spanakopita made with local rainbow chard cut through with fetta.

There’s always a soup — maybe a carrot-pumpkin concoction so orange you might want to check it with your Geiger counter — rest assured, the colour comes from organically grown produce that rolls down the hill from the Moora Moora co-operative, and other organic sources.

As for ready-mades, there are chewy ciabatta rolls filled with goodies such as local goat’s cheese, Otway ham and roast vegies. Sharing cabinet space are cafe-made cakes, including a lemon tart and a flourless Kennedy & Wilson Chocolates beast.

These treats, plus top-notch coffee and a child-friendly book nook, make Amanda’s a worthy spot to recharge. In fact, the experience may well eat into the rest of your day, in a mighty fine way.

From a Review by Patrick Whitton in the Age Newspaper, 17th January, 2011.