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/
Lunch with my Mum at Urban Pantry was a treat for the tastebuds. We sat out on the breezy deck, and decided to share two lighter dishes – the kingfish ceviche ($18) and the chargrilled octopus ($24), and I treated myself to a house lychee soad ($7). The soda was refreshing, although the lychee flavour had to be mixed in, which was tricky given the glass was packed with ice! But the flavour was lovely, with a sprig of fresh mint. We ate the octopus salad first, devouring the plump, tender pieces doused in a tangy vinagrette. I would have liked a more smokey flavour from a chargrill, but that was my only complaint. The salad had a magic pesto hidden inside – magic, because it was one of the best pestos I’ve ever tried, and it was fun to discover it amid the chickpeas, green beans, kipfler potatoes, roasted capsicum strips and salad leaves. The ceviche was a strong finish, with caviar balanced on top of a radish slice balanced on top of a pile of kingfish, avocado and fresh tomato, accompanied by slices of a luscious lavosh. A mouthful with a bit of everything was heavenly, and we hardly spoke a word while eating. Definitely coming back for both dishes.
Urban Pantry, 5 Bougainville Street, Griffith ACT, http://www.urbanpantrymanuka.com.au/
You know that feeling when your food comes out and you think, yes, I have ordered exactly what I feel like? That’s what happened when I saw my giant Korean Fried Chicken burger ($16.90) at Space Kitchen. The burger comes with bacon (chicken and bacon are meant to be together), the eponymous fried chicken, Asian slaw, Sriracha and a smokey soy aioli. I also ordered a side of chips for $3 (not necessary). The chips were the only let down – a bit undercooked, they lacked freshness and crispness, although were well seasoned. The burger was hard to eat – knife and fork required – but worth the effort. The chicken isn’t super fried, just the skin, so within are tender pieces of breast meat that just melt in your mouth. The bacon was also a little less crisp than I prefer, but added so much flavour with a good streak of fat. The slaw was made by the great combo of Sriracha and the smokey aioli – together, they weren’t too much, and stopped the slaw from being dry. I couldn’t finish the burger, let alone the chips, so maybe a good one to share.
Space Kitchen, Skypark, corner of Furzer and Worgan Streets, Phillip ACT, http://space-kitchen.com.au/
Hi all, I’m travelling next week so won’t be posting again until 19 December. Keep an eye on my Instagram for food adventures in the meantime! I noticed recently that Kingston Grind was no longer Kingston Grind, but the elegantly named Raven & Rose, so stopped in to try the food for lunch. The atmosphere is casual, with a beautiful mural on the back wall and plenty of sidewalk seating. I decided to try the roast chicken and bacon sandwich ($14), with lettuce, tomato, avocado and aioli, which was also the waitress’ recommendation. The sandwich came out in two halves, on a white toasted roll and with avocado clumps pouring out – definitely a good start! I had to swap my bread knife for a steak knife to cut the bread, but once I could cut the bread, it was game on. The ingredients were all fresh, and all the fillings were cold, which was lovely for a warm afternoon. The chicken breast pieces were plump and tender, although the bacon was a little dry. The avocado and aioli were generously portioned and so too was the red cabbage and green leaves. Flavour-wise this was a classic combo, nicely seasoned to bring the best out of the meats. Service was friendly and the sweets on the counter looked great too.
Raven & Rose, corner of Eyre an Jardine Streets, Kingston ACT, no webiste
If I could have claimed to have a ‘local’ while in Santiago, Cafe Publico was it. The staff were really patient with my terrible Spanish (they even taught me how to order an orange juice) and, of course, being located in an arts centre (the GAM), everything was stylish too. Breakfast isn’t a big deal in Chile – usually a couple of pieces of toast with eggs, jam or avocado suffice, but I thoroughly enjoyed trying a couple of the different pastries on offer. When I looked up ‘food to try in Chile’, manjar was high on the list. The Chilean name for Argentina’s dulce de leche, manjar is a sweet, milk-based dessert (think a richer version of Nestle Top Fill), which at Cafe Publico, is served sandwiched in flaky croissants. Heated up, the sweet, rich manjar goes gooey and a bit runny, oozing out of the croissant. Ok, it is messy, but wow, it is tasty too! With a cuppa and a fresh juice, there’s no better way to start the day. As a side note, the alfajore negro (dark chocolate alfajor, kind of like a jam-less, manjar-filled Wagon Wheel) here are also excellent.
Cafe Publico, GAM, Av Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 227, Santiago, http://gam.cl/tu-visita (Spanish only)
Canberra cafes just keep getting better and better. I met a friend for a weekday breakfast at Teddy Picker’s, a recent opening in Campbell, alongside The Pedlar. The space is vast and modern, but avoids feeling cold with plenty of greenery and a range of pickled goods for sale in jars (love the calligraphy on the labels!). I started with the very Instagrammable Purple Smoothie ($8.90), with blueberry, mango, banana, honey and coconut milk. The texture was great, but the coconut flavour dominated the smoothie, so you couldn’t pick the other flavours. For breakfast, I had the Oats (dairy free, yay! $13.50), served with coconut, mango, puffed wild rice and macadamias. The dish was huge, and beautifully presented. I absolutely loved this breakfast – the oats were amazingly creamy, served cold (perfect for a warm day, although hopefully they’re served hot in winter) and had just the right balance of sweetness, without being a ‘sweet breakfast’ as such. The mango and macadamia combo is a real winner, adding great textural contrast, along with the innovative take on wild rice. With friendly service and plenty of fun menu options to try, I’ll be back soon for sure!
Teddy Picker’s, 65 Constitution Avenue, Campbell ACT, http://www.teddypickers.com.au/