The café is a bit of a surprise in itself; it's down a side-street, from which you enter into a space that is large and long. It has a really nice feel to it, though you are surrounded by concrete above and below. It tends to be a bit loud for oldies like me and Mr P.; we do wish that this trend for hard surfaces would quietly fade away:-) But there is a lovely atmosphere, and it is nice to spend a bit of time here, chilling out.
|heading into the depths|
Let me tell you about our most recent (Autumn) lunch here: I started with a cappuccino, while Mr P. had a freshly-squeezed orange juice. My drink hit the spot - strong and hot, with lots of chocolate sprinkled on top and lurking delightfully in the bottom. Hubby's OJ was frothy and cold and delicious. Nothing nicer than juice straight out of the fruit :-)
|delish coffee with choc sprinkles $4.50|
|freshly-squeezed OJ $8|
We moved on to our meals: hubby had an OG Cheesy (burger), while I chose the Banoffee French toast. Is that not a beautiful dish, my friends? At a glance, it looks like avocado purée and scallops, but it is actually caramelised banana, with miso caramel, banana cream and blood-orange gel. Yes, very sweet, but oh so delicious. I even ate the banana! And as regular readers know, that is a big call for me:-) My only suggestion would be to add a bit of crunch with a herby/salted praline - just to give it a bit of a twist, and to cut the sweetness. And maybe a scattering of fresh mint? Oh, and the toast itself was well done, without being soggy or too dry.
|pretty as - Banoffee French toast $18|
Here's where my tale gets a bit sad. Mr P. was disappointed with his burger. (Not sure what OG means, and the waitress didn't know either.) Is this burger meant to be like one from that chain - you know, the one with the big yellow M? I have to tell you that even though this is a wagyu beef pattie, we both felt it was very similar in taste and texture to the big yellow M version.
|OG Cheesy (burger) $20 - lid on|
Here are the things that Mr P. didn't like about his lunch: the pattie was incredibly bland, with little or no seasoning. I had to agree; it was crying out for some salt and pepper. There was very little sauce and no relish. I guess the sauce is also meant to be like the big M's? I could taste gherkin juice (?) in it; it was okay but not outstanding. Hubby is not a fan of brioche as a burger bun; nor am I. It just doesn't make sense to have a sweet, buttery bun with a meat pattie! We were confused about the 'rustic' fries as they seemed like normal chips. I expect rustic to be thick and probably with a bit of skin on. They tasted fine though; crunchy outside, soft inside. Hubby would have loved a bit more than a slice of cheese and a bit of lettuce on his OG though. So, not a winner for Mr P.
|OG Cheesy - lid off|
Our Summer visit was similar; I had a wonderful meal, while Mr P. was underwhelmed with his choice. Our milkshakes were cold and delicious, but we wondered why they had used syrup instead of real fruit for his drink? Frozen fruit is so easy to come by these days, and lots of cafés use it for their drinks. Happily my Nutella shake was wonderfully cold and so delicious; I chose well (as the waitress said).
|Strawberry shake/Nutella shake $6.50|
Wow, my dish of cured ocean trout was just so pretty and so delicious. Cured in beetroot and vodka, it came with a yuzu gel (citrusy but a bit too sweet for me), beetroot, fennel, buttermilk and salmon roe. I was very happy with this dish. The trout had a great texture, the pickled beetroot was a bit crunchy (a good thing), and the pop when you ate the roe was a bit of fun and flavour. Such a good choice! This dish is not on the Autumn menu, FYI.
|cured ocean trout $24|
Oh dear, Mr P. made an unhappy choice from the Summer menu too. He chose the king oyster mushrooms, with asparagus, parmesan custard, onion jam and sourdough. And a 63° egg, with a side of hash browns which he enjoyed, though we figured the hash browns were not house-made. The mushrooms and woody asparagus were unpleasantly chewy; the dobs of white sauce turned out to be the parmesan custard which was grainy and tasteless. And so very little of it! We expected the custard to come out in a ramekin, or to be a big dollop at least. The sourdough had a tangy flavour, but one piece was over-toasted and the other underdone. Poor Mr P. was not a happy man:-( And I have to say, $25 all up for his plate was... mmm... kinda expensive.
|mushrooms $20 with hash browns $5|
So, weirdly if you asked me about this place, I would say 'fabulous, go for it!' But if you asked Mr P., he would say 'be very careful about which dish you choose'. Not sure how this can happen within one kitchen. Another thing we found a bit of a worry is that there seems to be no disabled access. Hubby is partly disabled, and found it a bit difficult to get inside without a railing to hold onto. Perhaps we missed another entrance?
|on each table|
|inside the café - modern but still welcoming|
Final thoughts: Service was friendly and prompt; the atmosphere is very welcoming, but the food can be a bit hit and miss. All up, we had a pleasant lunch both times, though I luckily chose better than Mr P.
The Pickings' Verdict:
Food: 8/10 from me; 5/10 from Mr P.
(Our meals were independently paid for.)
2 Masters St., Newstead 4006
Ph: 07 3257 4523
Open 7 days a week from 7am to 3pm