Going out for breakfast is a recent phenomenon.

Great Ocean Food: A breakfast to celebrate

November 14, 2019 BY

I had a birthday last week.  No milestone event, but creeping towards the one starting with six! 

We started the day having breakfast with our eldest daughter, who was in Melbourne for the weekend and began a discussion about eating out early in the morning.  She was incredulous to discover that going out for breakfast was quite a recent phenomenon.  In her millennial world, the idea that a product or service is not available almost on call is unheard of.

When I was at university in the early Eighties, Melbourne had only a handful of restaurants or cafes which served breakfast.  After a late Saturday night, we would head to Fitz’s Café in Brunswick Street for breakfast at about 10.30am.  It was most bohemian and was the only place I can remember which served bacon, eggs, sausages, mushrooms and really thick sliced toast at that time of the morning.  Perhaps there were a few of the larger hotels which served buffet breakfast; but at that stage, these establishments were not frequented by the general public and most certainly did not have their door darkened by the likes of university students.

From my memory, the grass roots of the early meal and brunch were grown in Fitzroy.  Not surprising, given the student and creative population at the time.  But as my wife was quick to point out on Saturday, the real impetus of the movement came with the adoption of a breakfast menu by the then, relatively new to Australia, McDonalds (their first Melbourne store had opened only a decade earlier).  This fine culinary institution had a long track record of success serving egg and bacon muffins and hash browns in the USA long before anyone in Australia knew what a hash brown was.

At the time (about 1987), my wife was working for the advertising agency which had the McDonalds account.  In the marketing world there was no more important business than writing copy and launching products for this American gastronomic behemoth.  The introduction of breakfast was a big gamble and I clearly remember people saying that breakfast would never take off in Melbourne.  “Who would pay good money to eat a bowl of cereal or bacon and eggs when it is so much easier to stay at home?”

Famously, the egg and bacon McMuffin was offered to the population of Australia, which embraced it with gusto.  I would suggest most of the initial enthusiasm was created by those who had been out too late the night before – it was wonderful hangover food.  It has since been adopted as the norm and it started a ritual that almost all of us enjoy today.  I ordered Bircher muesli for my birthday treat.  It remains one of my favourite ways to start the day.

Bircher muesli


1 cup rolled oats

Half cup apple juice

1 green apple, grated

A quarter cup natural yoghurt

1 tablespoon of honey

2 tablespoon flaked almonds

Extra yoghurt, honey, peaches and raspberries, to serve


Place oats and apple juice into a bowl and stir until combined. Leave mixture to stand for at least one hour (alternatively you can leave it covered in fridge overnight).

Add grated apple, natural yoghurt, honey and flaked almonds and mix well. Serve and top with a dollop of yoghurt, peaches, raspberries and a drizzle of honey. Almost any fruit or nuts can be added to your liking.