Every time i visit Ballarat, my first stop is to get hold of a Round the Way bagel. Back in the day that would mean lining up in the chilly Ballarat air outside Dazzlers car wash to get my fix from the food truck.
Now the guys Peter Marios & Ryan Slater have new digs you can visit in Main St, schweeet! Food truck fans fear not, the van is still truckin’ too.
The cafe is cosy and welcoming with a window bench for people watching. One wall is adorned with New York skyline pictures, and the other with the compact but all killer no filler New York styled sweets cabinet, as well as a pretty big coffee bar.
A chalkboard above the counter houses the menu of various bagel sandwiches and sides at the pocket change size of $4 a pop. Life advice comes for free, order now!
For the thirsty, the drinks menu spans Redskins milkshakes and cold press coffee with soda and secret flavours. Certainly not your average.
Friendly service finds us a 50’s inspired formica table and takes our order. In just a few minutes, our hot, fresh bagels are dispensed through the servery which is styled to look like the serving window of the food truck. Nice touch!
I get a compliment of my choice of one of the two vegetarian bagels on offer – the East Village ($12) – which is the waitresses favourite. Served in a cardboard tray with it’s own little Tabasco bottle to turn up the heat to your liking, my mouth is watering.
The East Village is a house made falafel patty which is more like the best veggie burger patty I’ve ever had! Juicy, full of spices like cumin and herbs like parsley, plus chunky bits of chickpeas, its a winner.
The bagel itself is soft, warm and has been toasted to perfection before being slathered with butter. This alone is just so, so good.
Finishing the burger-bagel is a generous dollop of house made hummus, fresh juicy tomato with punch, and crunchy cos lettuce that also adds a nice buttery bitterness. Heaven.
Mr Wino and Daddy Wino make short work of their El Cubano’s ($13). Loaded with juicy, fall apart shredded pork, turkey, they barely stopped to draw breath and exalt about how good it was.
Despite not being massively hungry (this was our second lunch!) we also sampled the Coriander slaw ($4) – and i was so glad we did. Ridiculously creamy, crunchy red cabbage, fresh local apple batons, and plenty of coriander made this a great addition to our meal.
I seriously cannot wait to return – next time with a bigger appetite – to also try the mac and cheese, cold press coffee soda, and a little something-something from that dessert cabinet (lemon cheesecakes that look like a fried egg, anyone?).
Ballarat and bagels are now forever linked.
Don’t visit The ‘Rat without trying one. Or three.