I can’t believe I hadn’t been to Coffee Lab until now – this place is awesome! I met friends and we sat outside in the fresh air. I ordered the ‘No Ragrets’ (sic, $17), with a cornmeal hash brown, kale, poached eggs, Pialligo bacon and James Brown sauce. There was literally nothing about this dish I didn’t like. The hash brown was a creative interpretation, more like a baked potato in shape, and with a slightly grainier texture than a potato version, but still super tasty and filling. The kale was well-seasoned and moreish, while the Pialligo bacon worked its usual magic of making everything taste better. It was cooked with a good balance between crispy and soft. The eggs were perfectly poached, but what really brought the whole thing together was the James Brown sauce – I wonder if they’ll share the recipe with me? This dish brought together all the things I look for in a good breakfast – nothing too heavy, but filling, warming, and with good variety of texture. The menu here has a lot to offer, and I can’t wait to come back and explore it further.
Coffee Lab, 26 Narellan Place, Canberra ACT, no website
Sydney really knows how to do garden-inspired eateries. Flower Child has been on my radar for a while, and on a recent trip to Sydney we stopped in for a casual brunch. Oh my, the space here is so delightful. Full of indoor plants and botanical upholstery (without being too much), I would have loved to spend a whole day just enjoying the conservatory-like space. But, on to the food. I started with a fresh orange juice ($7), which came out with a slices of orange balanced on a cocktail stick above the juice. Yum. I ordered the Breakfast Plate ($17), with soft boiled eggs, maple bacon, avocado, quinoa and tomato salsa, goat’s curd and fig on sourdough. Firstly, maple bacon is the most delicious thing ever. Crispy, sweet and salty perfection. My dish also had two spears of asparagus (bonus!), which were tender and tasty, and I liked (but didn’t love) the grainy quinoa ‘salsa’ – it was more like a salad, I’d expected something saucier. The avocado portion was generous, and the eggs were correct for being boiled, although I still prefer poached. Overall this was a nice breakfast, but I think there are better menu items to explore. Until next time.
Flower Child, Westfield Warringah Mall, Condamine Street and Old Pittwater Road, Brookvale NSW, http://flowerchildcafe.com.au/
The last time I went to Teddy Picker’s I felt a bit unwell, so didn’t end up ordering my dish of choice – the Brekky Roll ($15) with crumbed brisket, ‘red eye’ mayo, pickled jalapenos shallots and a fried egg – but I rectified the situation this visit. Firstly, what I love about Teddy Picker’s is the non-traditional breakfast options. Sure, other places have more choices, but you’re going to encounter unusual flavours here, which shows their understanding of the Canberra market. The Brekky Roll is a perfect example. No bacon here – the crumbed brisket is fried to crispness on the outside, leaving the meat within tender and moist, so that the overall effect is a texture party in your mouth. I love that the meat is a little bit sweet from the slow cooking, and this works perfectly with the tangy mayo slathered on top. I am a huge fan of the deep fried shallots (so much crunch!) and whilst jalapeno isn’t your typical breakfast accompaniment, the pickled version used here adds so much flavour, I couldn’t imagine the dish without them. My only gripe was that the egg wasn’t positioned to ooze into the roll (it went all over the plate instead, such a waste), but I think I’ll just have to go back and perfect my technique.
Teddy Picker’s, 65 Constitution Avenue, Campbell ACT, http://www.teddypickers.com.au/
I love Two Before Ten in Aranda, and was excited to hear they’ve taken over the space that was occupied by 79 & Fine in the city. The decor hasn’t changed much, but the menu is certainly more expansive than its predecessor’s. I ordered a fresh juice, which unfortunately tasted awful, so the staff kindly replaced it with a bottled juice. So it was a disappointing start, but when my breakfast arrived, all was redeemed. I ordered the Brown Bear ($13) – a boiled egg with avocado and a rye muffin, with mushrooms. The plate was beautifully presented, and my egg, when opened, was cooked to perfection. The salad greens on the side added a hit of fresh, crispness that complemented the other textures nicely. Both the egg and the avocado were nicely seasoned (I do love a good smattering of pepper) and the rye muffin wasn’t too heavy, as I often find rye to be. On the other hand, it wasn’t so light as to not be filling, so the balance was just right. The mushrooms did steal the show a bit – juicy, earthy and salty, I scooped these up with no remorse. A perfect weekday breakfast in town.
Two Before Ten, 1 Hobart Place, Canberra ACT, http://www.twobeforeten.com.au/
This may be the ultimate hotel breakfast of all hotel breakfasts. Because, attached to Hotel Clasico in Palermo Hollywood, is Möoi, a beautiful space, and the breakfast location for hotel guests. Here, you are presented with a full breakfast menu to order from, which is all included. That’s right. You order breakfast from the menu, and can mix and match different items. Amazing. On arrival, you receive a fresh cup of orange juice and a choice of tea or coffee – I always picked black tea, which was served in a delicate cast iron teapot, Japanese-style. My first food combination was the scrambled eggs and smoked salmon bagel. One thing about food here is that the portions are always huge, so clearly it was a mistake to get a two-part meal. The eggs were light, fluffy and cooked to perfection, to enjoy the maximum flavour. I particularly liked the addition of spring onion slices for extra bang. The bagel was fresh and dense, and of course the salmon was divine, although sadly I couldn’t eat more than a few mouthfuls. Luckily I stayed for a week so had plenty more chances to get it right!
Möoi, Costa Rica 5468, Buenos Aires 1414, Argentina, no website
Dear Mocan & Green Grout, I love your baked eggs. I have been a fan for a long time, and you never, ever let me down. Seriously, I’m not even being sarcastic. This visit was no exception, and I couldn’t be tempted to part from your beautiful, runny yolks, or your spicy tang of harissa paste, no matter how exciting your menu. I always take a moment to appreciate the top quality of the local bread you use for dipping, lightly toasted. I don’t want to be critical, but a little knob of butter could improve its potential exponentially, should you be so inclined. Oh, I can’t write without telling you how much I adore the charred eggplant lying at the bottom of this pan of deliciousness. I can’t cook eggplant to save my life, so having it dished up with such delightful creaminess is wonderful. With a squeeze of lemon, your Meredith chevre becomes sprightly and fun, joining the flavour party with the sort of gusto this dish warrants. Of course your restaurant space is welcoming and elegant, to match your quality food. Please keep doing what you’re doing. Thanks, Sharon
Mocan & Green Grout, 1/19 Marcus Clarke Street, New Acton, ACT http://mocanandgreengrout.com/
One of my friends came to visit from Melbourne recently, and we met at Penny University for brunch. I was immediately drawn to the salmon-laden options, and decided to try the ‘Winter Fishing in Yemen’ ($21) and a fresh watermelon, apple and mint juice ($7.5). The dish comprised a freekeh risotto with miso salmon, roast fennel, cherry tomatoes and a 65 degree egg. The serving was huge, and I was impressed by the amount of salmon included – flakey, tender salmon, although to be honest, I couldn’t really taste the miso. The risotto had a fabulous texture, viscous and rich, although I found the whole dish rather salty (perhaps that was the miso’s contribution?), just a shade past the point of enjoyably salty. Fennel isn’t generally my favourite, but it worked really well in this dish, adding some good textural contrast, although the cherry tomatoes kind of stole the show with their charred, sweet pops of flavour. Spinach leaves and red cabbage completed the ensemble, enriched by the perfectly runny egg. The serve was a bit too big for me, and I was glad of the juice to help quench my thirst – enjoyable, but probably not a dish I’d go back for in particular.
Penny University, 15 Kennedy Street, Kingston ACT, http://pennyuniversitycafe.com/