Egglab has one thing at its core, and that’s breakfast, served fast and cheap.
It’s by Greg Papas, who recently left his job as chief marketing officer at a cryptocurrency startup, and Jana Andrianopoulos, who (along with her sister and brother-in-law) also runs Camberwell cafe The Bakers Wife and Balwyn North patisserie Tatin.
Dishes here are inspired by the breakfast burgers Papas and Andrianopoulos discovered travelling overseas, such as those at American fast-food chain Eggslut. “We thought, ‘Why can’t Melbourne have something like that too?’” Andrianopoulos says.
Egglab first opened on Smith Street, Collingwood almost two years ago, but when the lease ended in April they decided to set up a bigger shop a few blocks away on Johnston Street.
“That was sort of like a test for us,” Papas says. “To see if our concept was cool enough and if it worked.”
And while it’s still pumping out egg-based breakfasts in various forms, stuffed expertly between two slices of bread and served in three minutes, the new Egglab is a lot truer to their original vision than the first.
The Collingwood spot was rudimentary, with an open kitchen, a few tables and little else (“We literally walked in there, smacked in a canopy and started cooking,” Papas says). But Papas and Andrianopoulos have been able to design the new space from scratch.
They gave their friend Nic Morgante, a photographer and architecture student, free reign on the interior. The result is an open space with lots of exposed brick, wooden countertops, whitewashed walls and yolky orange accents. A neon egg sign greets you when you walk in, and the round white pendant lights are a little eggy, too.
The large dining room toward the back of the space has more seating than the entire original shop, but Egglab regulars may notice that the Henrik Thor-Larsen egg chair is gone.
“Someone came in the other day and walked around – didn’t even order – and they said, ‘Hey, where’s the egg chair?’” Papas says. “I said we left it at the old store. And they just left.”
A few other Egglab staples have been given the chop, too. The Chilli Scramble bun is now the Vodka Chilli Scramble, inspired by the pasta with vodka sauce at Carlton’s Capitano, a restaurant the pair love. Version 2.0 is just-set scrambled eggs flecked with chilli and feta and sandwiched between two pieces of soft, toasted brioche with peppery rocket and tomato relish. It’s a little boozy and, funnily enough, reliable hangover fare.
Also new to the menu is the Benny – a fried egg with bacon, wilted spinach, hollandaise and fried potato sticks for crunch – and the lemon-drenched Cotolet, a crumbed chicken cutlet with herb salad, shaved parmesan and a fried egg packed into a ciabatta roll. Papas got the idea from The Pizza Show on Vice’s Munchies, where host Frank Pinello and his nonna make her signature cotoletta.
“They’d [put it in] a bath of lemon juice, and after they fried the chicken they’d bathe it [in more lemon juice],” Papas says. “So it’s really lemony.”
Pricing starts at $8 for the Scram, which is scrambled eggs, caramelised onions, chipotle mayo, cheddar and chives, and goes up to $15 for the Cotolet.
Old favourites such as Mr Potato Head, with a fried egg, a hash brown, house-made relish and cheddar (the optional chipotle sauce is definitely worth going for) aren’t going anywhere, but the Egglab crew is keen to experiment with new dishes now that they’re in a bigger space.
“We just got a smoker out the back that we want to utilise,” Papas says. “We’d like to do some smoked pastrami.”
Cold-press and espresso coffee is courtesy of Allpress, and there are milkshakes and homemade iced tea. Or try the Bae Juice, a South Korean pear juice that promises to ward off hangovers. An alcohol offering is also planned for the future.
122 Johnston Street, Fitzroy
Mon to Fri 7.30am–3pm
Sat & Sun 8am–3pm