Tall Timber (+ Q&A with le chef)
60 Commercial Rd, Prahran VIC 3181
Sauteed kale, asparagus and green beans with poached eggs, almonds and feta on quinoa loaf (I get it without the loaf and add mushies – all time favourite! I order this 95% of the time!)
Roast pumpkin bruschetta consisting of poached eggs, feta, hummus, and seed & nut dukkah on a quinoa loaf
Beetroot cured ocean trout on smashed peas, radish, black tahini, poached eggs and a mint, parsley, pistachio and almond pesto
I eat at Tall Timber so often that I don’t even need to order these days. “Tell Ryan that Sarah is here” is enough to get my favourite dish (pictured below) complete with the appropriate adjustments on its way to me (Ryan being the wonderful head chef, for those who aren’t aware). And that’s not the reason I love it so much – it hasn’t always been this way. It’s just through my embarrassingly regular breakfast dates (and my also embarrassingly predictable dish of choice) that my lovely relationship with Chef Ryan has developed. As much as I love good food (either that tastes good or is good for you or both), it’s increasingly rare for me to keep coming back to a cafe if it hasn’t yet officially joined the Matcha Maiden family (Nic and I love to return the support that we are so grateful to be blessed with wherever we can), especially if it generally involves queuing for upwards of an hour (we don’t like to queue). But, Chef Ryan is just the gift that keeps on giving and now he can’t get rid of me (and, when it comes to matcha at TT, we’re working on it I promise).
Coming back to the concept of “good food”, this of course has a different meaning for all of us. What I find so special about Chef Ryan’s menu at Tall Timber is that it caters for just about any food personality. We all have different priorities when it comes to food – flavour, texture, presentation, nutritional value, ingredients, sustainability, price, surrounding environment…. I have tasted almost all of the menu at TT and it absolutely covers all bases. There’s both sweet and savoury, small and large, vegan and non-vegan, healthier and more indulgent. One of the stand-out features of Tall Timber is how it further caters for the endless list of dietary requirements that plague society these days – the already varied menu can be further tweaked to accommodate your allergies/intolerances/preferences (read more on this in the Q&A below). Into each dish, Chef Ryan has injected his fine dining background with his more recent embracing of the health food movement to create food that tastes good AND is good for you. And, most importantly, it also LOOKS good – Ryan has grabbed the social media bull by the horns and nothing leaves his kitchen unless it is infinitely photogenic and Insta-ready!
“…it amazed me how you could still eat incredibly tasty meals without your fats, gluten and sugar etc.. so now I’m out to prove to everyone that fruits, veggies and greens etc can still make your tastebuds pop!” – Chef Ryan
It’s clear from a quick glance at my Instagram feed that I order the same thing every time. I’ve been lucky enough to attend a few foodie feasts that Ryan has put on for us which has allowed me to fully enjoy all that the menu has to offer. But I always come back to the breakfast greens which, as I mentioned above, always arrives without the quinoa loaf and fetta and with a generous serve of mushies instead. Flavoursome and fabulously filling are not descriptors you generally think of when you hear the term “breakfast greens”, but somehow this dish always leaves me as full as a goog (but full of healthy nutritious food so the inevitable food coma never comes with any guilt). It’s a win-win situation!
Other superstar dishes are listed at the top of this page and are ever-so-popular among our little foodie family (the famous house bircher with a poached pear is also pictured above). It’s never hard to find a date for a Tall Timber visit, none of us can get enough of it. The only down side worth noting (which is entirely unsurprising and a side-effect of a great foodie find) are the incredible queues that TT draws at peak times and the common shortage of parking options in the vicinity. But that can’t be helped and is to be expected at any place worth visiting. Just plan your visit strategically and don’t be one of those silly billies who rocks up at 10am on a Saturday expecting to be seated straight away. I mean, it’s Melbourne – act accordingly.
Since I really don’t have much to say about TT except that I adore it, I thought it would be interesting to do a little Q&A with Chef Ryan. He tends to stay behind the scenes cooking up a storm but his talents are gaining an increasing amount of attention with the rise of social media (and all of our insatiable snap happiness). I thought it would be nice to actually chat to him about what goes into his dishes and share a bit of his personality with you. Ryan is always ahead of the curve and is proactively expanding his repertoire with foodie events and other exciting things, so stay tuned! Asked him a few questions that I personally was quite curious about (but if you have any more, e-mail me and I’m sure he’d be happy to answer).
Q&A with Chef Ryan
What do you eat for breakfast? Do you eat your own food?
I am Definitely a Greens man when it comes to Breakfast! some sauteed Asparagus, Brocollini, Beans or Kale.. some poached Eggs, Feta, Almonds or Hazelnuts, smash it with fresh Lemon and Boom! Happy Days!
Best way to poach an egg cafe style?
Without doubt the most common question I get asked! Haha.. everyone is scared of how much vinegar they use.. and focus on swirling the water etc… No need!!
All you need is 12-15cm water, 1cm vinegar, the water to be a light boil! Crack the room temperature eggs close to the water to prevent a splash!
If there isn’t enough vinegar, it won’t hold like a ball.. and if the water temp is too low it will sit on the bottom and come out flat! 🙂
2.5 mins and you are good to go!
What are your top 3 ingredients to cook with (and why)?
– Pomegranate Molasses – its my favourite “drizzle” to add that wow factor to a dish! I have all my waiters taste it when they start working with me and their reaction is the same every time.. “Wow thats amazing!!”
– Lemon/lime – the ingredient that just opens up those taste buds and lets you enjoy all of the individual flavours in the dish! Not to mention its amazing capability of breaking down fats! 🙂
– Mint/coriander/thyme.. all herbs! Haha.. im a herb freak.. anyone who cooks without them just misses out on adding so much fresh flavour to their meals. There’s always a herb to match a dish and they give it so much life!
Who is your favourite person to have cook for you when you take off the chef’s hat?
Anyone who has the passion to please! 🙂 I am a strong believer in anyone having the ability to please another with cooking good food if they have the passion to produce it!
What comes first for new recipes, how you want the dish to look or how you want it to taste?
Awesome question! I tend to design the dish on presentation then add the flavours and textures as I go! I have such a strong love for food presentation and “wowing” the customer before they even take a bite, it comes from a background in Art! Making someone eat a meal they usually wouldn’t, based on the fact that it looks amazing, now that’s a success in itself!
Where does your drive to be so accommodating for dietary needs come from?
I think it really comes from when I decided to do paleo for 6 months as an experiment to get a feel for how my customers live their lives with their dietary needs. The amount of places that weren’t accommodating was pretty atrocious, especially in this day and age! So I decided to be that guy who will make his customers experience an amazing meal when they dine in, no matter what dietary conditions they have! There’s ALWAYS something you can make them that tastes delicious! 10 years ago, chefs would refuse to cook for them because they didn’t understand, but it’s the 21st century, it’s time for chefs to accept, adapt and get creative! 🙂
Why do you have such a passion for cooking nourishing food?
Again relating to when I undertook the paleo lifestyle, it amazed me how you could still eat incredibly tasty meals without your fats and gluten and sugar etc etc.. so now I’m out to prove to everyone that Fruits and Veggies and Greens etc can still make your tastebuds pop! It’s not a chore to eat well.. or a punishment as too many people seem to see it. You need to look after your body and mind, and you can do so without losing any flavour in your life! 🙂
What is “#sexyfood?”
Haha #sexyfood is my nourishing version of #foodporn basically! I see it as: a) food that is presented beautifully and makes you want it badly.. b) food that gives you that feeling of satisfaction when you eat it (generally followed by a “oh my god it’s so good comment..” haha ) and c) food that makes you feel sexier for eating it! You know it’s healthy, you now know it tastes amazing, you feel nourished and full of energy and you just feel amazing after finishing it! 🙂
Whats your go-to meal after a busy day?
I generally do a “ready steady cook” at home with my fridge.. pull out a bunch of ingredients and challenge myself to turn them into an amazing little dish in about 10 minutes! But my main quick dish is Shredded Chicken breast, Loads of Basil Leaves, Avocado, Cucumber, Lemon juice and tahini dressing.. so quick, fresh, tasty and satisfying!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I want to own atleast 2 x cafes, either 1 in Melb and Syd or both in Melbourne! I want a cookbook released in dedication to my recently deceased Grandmother, would love to have my own product available for retail and to be actively consulting “nourishing sexy food menus” in other countries. The world needs to learn to eat better.. not just Australia! 🙂
Follow Chef Ryan: @chefryan85
Follow Tall Timber: @talltimber