Lunch at the Cupping Room

It had been a while since I visited the celebrated cafe, mainly because it’s so popular the wait queues are ridiculously long on the weekends. Luckily for me, I had a Thursday off work so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to visit the cafe during less busy times. Unfortunately I went a couple weeks before they launched their Spring menu, so a few of the items below are no longer available (the salted caramel and popcorn milkshake and fruit toast still are!)… but you can still ogle at the photos!

Salted Caramel and Popcorn Milkshake

Salted caramel has probably become one of the most popular dessert flavours over the past few years, and I can totally see why.  It’s that combination of sugar and salt that makes it so moorish. Surprisingly, I took a while to drink the entire milkshake as I was preoccupied by the amount of food we’d ordered, but as it sat there waiting to be drunk, the popcorn itself soaked up the liquid while the caramel coating remained crunchy. Each popcorn sort of turned into some crunchy explosion of salted popcorn milkshake. The milkshake itself was really thick too, so it remained cold until the end. It is very sweet, but what else can you expect from a salted caramel milkshake?

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Red Velvet Milkshake

Basically a decadent chocolate milkshake accompanied by a classic red cherry on top, this was absolutely delicious. My friend ordered this one and as soon as I had a sip, I was instantly jealous—this was definitely my favourite between the two milkshakes. It wasn’t overly sweet and there were little chunks of chocolate in amongst the smooth and slightly tangy milkshake—I believe it had a bit of sour cream in it. Unfortunately this isn’t available in their Spring menu, but maybe we can petition to get it back?

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Charshu Pork

A thirty six hour sous-vide pork belly dish that came with garlic puree, half a soy boiled egg, dollops of kewpie mayo, crunchy charred cabbage and a salmon rice cake. The pork was relatively tender but there was a bit too much fat that hadn’t cooked away or rendered down—I’m pretty easy when it comes to pork belly but I do prefer crispy or rendered skin over solid fat. Apart from this, I couldn’t fault any of the other elements. The cabbage was still crunchy and had a good savoury flavour. The egg was slightly over runny (which I prefer), but my favourite component was the salmon rice cake. It had a crunchy exterior and a soft and flavoursome interior which went really well with the creamy kewpie.

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Baked Eggs

The Cupping Room’s baked eggs came with mushroom, silver-beet, leek and double brie, and olive tapenade and toasted sourdough on the side. The baked eggs itself had a super intense mushroomy, savoury, salty flavour, so I thought the olive tapenade was unnecessary as a side dish. The brie helped cut through the intensity of the mushrooms and was a nice addition. I was expecting the dish to come with more sauce to mop up with the freshly toasted bread, but it was actually quite dry. Despite this, it was still a really tasty dish.

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Pumpkin

This was the one dish I came to the Cupping Room for after seeing a post on Instagram (I swear I don’t spend THAT much time on the gram…). This dish consisted of herb-crusted roasted pumpkin, lentils, quinoa, cottage cheese, pickled heirloom radish, orange segments, roasted pepitas and lemon and tahini vinaigrette. With three huge wedges of tender roasted pumpkin, it was more substantial than I initially anticipated. The cottage cheese didn’t add much in terms of taste, and because the other elements weren’t inherently salty I would have preferred some feta or pan-fried halloumi to lift it’s flavour profile. I thought the pickled radishes and orange segments were a really nice addition as they added level of sweet tanginess to the dish.

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Hotcakes

I’m not a huge fan of sweet breakfasts, but my friends insisted on ordering this dish. The dish came with two thick hotcakes, apple and rhubarb jam, a dollop of orange marscarpone, granola and Canadian maple syrup. The hotcakes themselves were fluffy and the granola had a nice spiced flavour but it had bits of dried fruit that were potentially over-dried during the toasting of the granola—rather than soft, chewy pieces of fruit, they were hard and tough. I couldn’t see or taste any rhubarb in the apple and rhubarb jam, but it wasn’t overly sweet and still had a nice mellow flavour. I thought there was way too much maple syrup in the dish, but the orange marscarpone was a nice addition to help cut through that.

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Fruit Toast

On top of everything, we also ordered the Three Mills fruit toast with cottage cheese, banana and honey. Unfortunately, the banana was a bit overpowering so I couldn’t taste the cottage cheese or the fruit toast itself. I do love banana, so it was still enjoyable to eat but for the sake of the toast I would have left the banana out or put it on the side. I think they now serve their fruit toast with strawberries, ricotta, honey and almond instead, which I think is a good move—it sounds amazing!

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I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad experience at The Cupping Room. They not only produce tasty food, but are consistent, innovative and seasonally change their menu. If you haven’t tried them out (although I doubt you haven’t), give them ago!

Details for the Cupping Room:

Opening hours:

Weekdays

7:00am – 4:00pm

Weekends and public holidays

8:00am – 3:00pm

Address:

1/1-13 University Ave, Canberra

Breakfast at The Grounds of Alexandria

I have a confession… this post has been sitting in my drafts folder since March… I was debating on whether or not to post it considering I came here so long ago, but I took so many photos it would have been a waste if I didn’t. So, here you go! (Five months later…)

I visited the cafe at The Grounds of Alexandria in Sydney earlier this year when I picked my boyfriend up from the airport. It was the perfect breakfast stop before the 3 hour drive back to Canberra, and oh my, was I amazed. I didn’t realise how huge the establishment was! I believe the area used to be an industrial car park which the owners transformed into something really special. Not only is there the cafe but a restaurant, called The Potting Shed, as well. They also bake bread and pastries in-house and roast their own coffee beans.

As you walk in you are welcomed by a vibrant green walkway.

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There is a carnival-like atmosphere as you make your way through to the cafe passing carts filled with colourful desserts. Although not pictured, there was even a doughnut vendor cranking out fresh, doughy balls of fried, sugary goodness.

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I had to resist all the desserts on offer since we were about to eat breakfast but I definitely need to try some next time I visit! Kinda regretting that I didn’t get some to-go… ah food regrets.

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They even had a homemade lemonade cart right outside the cafe.

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Our Signature Avocado

I ordered the Ground’s signature avocado dish which came with avocado two ways; smashed and sliced, heirloom tomato, two poached eggs, a huge slab of feta, pomegranate seeds, a sprinkling of za’atar and mint on house baked bread. Yes. I love it when cafes add cheese to their avocado dishes. Cheese makes everything better. I liked the pops of sweetness from the pomegranate, and the za’atar gave it a nice tang.

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Breakfast burger

My boyfriend ordered the breakfast burger. It’s hard to go wrong with bacon, eggs, avo, lettuce, cheese, tomato relish and smokey mayo on a brioche bun. Let’s just say he was pretty satisfied and demolished it in about five bites (although not before I stole a sneaky nibble). The smokey mayo was pretty damn good and worked really well with the tomato relish. To make the dish even better, we got a side of crispy polenta chips with the burger. Unfortunately all the photos I took of them were horrible, but trust me they looked good!
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How could I not order a coffee at a coffee roastery?

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While we waited for our breakfast, I wandered over to the front counter and found this marvellous array of bread. Mmm carbs…

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I loved the homely feel of the cafe with rusty signs, brick walls and wooden surfaces.

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Oh and I forgot to mention, there is a florist right next door too! IMG_1066IMG_1078

The Grounds of Alexandria is really something. I’ve never experienced breakfast quite like it and I’d totally recommend a visit if you’re ever in Sydney.

Details for the cafe at The Grounds of Alexandria:

Opening hours:

Weekdays

7:00am to 4:00pm

Weekends

7:30am to 4:00pm

Address:

Building 7a, 2 Huntley Street, Alexandria NSW

 

Brunch at Coffee Lab

I had heard so many great things from Coffee Lab in the city, so I was really excited to try them out last week. My good friend was down from Queensland, it was relatively early in the morning (11 is early right?) and we were in need of some caffeine and good food – it was the perfect opportunity to hit up one of Canberra’s up-and-coming cafes.

As soon as you walk through the doors you can feel the über-hip-Canberra-cafe-vibe. From the warm wooden panelling scaling the wall, vibrant hanging green foliage to a large communal coffee table with newspapers and magazines strewn across the surface, the cafe just invites you in to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee.

We started with a round of tea and coffee. I’m generally a flat white drinker but was mistakenly given a latte. It was really no big deal seeing as though I don’t see a big difference between the two. I guess one plus is that lattes look better in photos! The latte was smooth and definitely hit the spot.

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The First Frost

I love mushrooms, and after hearing good reviews about this dish from my sister I had to try it. The dish came with mushrooms two ways; roasted and sautéed. They were nicely cooked with a subtle garlicky and herb flavour which wasn’t too overpowering. I was really happy to see some enoki mushrooms thrown in amongst the toppling mountain which is different from a lot of other cafes – big thumbs up for that. It also came with zucchini ribbons, alfalfa sprouts and lemon, all of which added a crisp freshness to the dish. The marinated feta was a little surprise underneath the mound of mushrooms as I had missed that detail when reading the menu. All I can say is that cheese makes everything better – one of the only philosophies I stand by in life. The portion was incredibly generous, and so it is decently priced at $16.00. I also added two poached eggs for $4.00, but had I known how big the serving was I would have been fine without them!

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No Ragrets

My friend ordered the No Ragrets which I found out later is one of their best sellers. It comes with a cornmeal hash brown, smoked Piallago bacon, sautéed kale, poached eggs and a generous drizzle of James Brown sauce. My friend described it as a “fancy eggs benny” and loved it. She said she doesn’t normally like kale due to its bitterness, but actually enjoyed it in this dish because it was quite subtle (and perhaps drowning in delicious hollandaise-style sauce). Priced at $17.00 I will definitely try this next time I come in.
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Look at that yolk-porn…
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Dillon You Son of a…

My other friend wasn’t too hungry and so she went for a lighter option of your classic avo on toast. Coffee Lab’s version comes with avocado rolled in black and white sesame seeds, marinated feta, chilli flakes, alfalfa sprouts and lime served on sourdough toast. She thoroughly enjoyed the addition of feta and chilli, so at $15.50, it was a hit. 

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I really enjoyed the food and coffee at Coffee Lab and am keen to try more of their menu. If you haven’t already tried them out, lock them in for your next brunch date!

Details for Coffee Lab:

Opening hours:

Weekdays

7:00am to 4:00pm

Weekends

8:00am to 3:30pm

Address:

26 Narellan Pl, Canberra

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Brunch at Ivy and the Fox

I had been meaning to try Ivy and the Fox after thoroughly enjoying a delicious lunch at its sister cafe, Fox and Bow, in Farrer last year. I have to say, it didn’t disappoint. There’s a lovely outdoor seating area that looks out over a field of bright green grass and towering eucalyptus trees -the perfect atmosphere for some brunch lovin’. I had just walked a decent 30 minutes from Hancock library to the café and so I was absolutely famished. Despite it nearing lunch time, I was craving something breakfast-y. I think I associate that feeling of being ravenous with waking up in the morning and desperately needing to fuel my stomach. Luckily for me, Ivy and the Fox do all day breakfast.

Mr Fox

The ‘Mr Fox’ completely cured my hunger. Pretty much a ‘big breakfast’ that you get at your stock-standard café but with a Spanish flair. It came with two fried eggs, mushies, roasted tomatoes, bacon, a giant crispy hashbrown, perfectly charred chorizo and morcilla- a Spanish style blood sausage. This was actually the first time I’d ever tried blood sausage, and I bloody loved it. It tasted like an awesome pork sausage with an extra depth of meatiness. To be fair, it wasn’t my first experience with animal blood in dishes. Growing up with a Vietnamese background exposes you to some really cool but somewhat strange foods.

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Señorita Fox

My friend ordered the ‘Señorita Fox’ and it looked so beautiful I had to take a photo. It came with a thick slice of toasted sourdough, a wedge of avocado coated in black and white sesame seeds, two poached eggs, Tasmanian smoked salmon, asparagus and a decent chunk of grilled haloumi. My friend was incredibly generous and cut off a bit of the avocado for me to try, and I have to say, the sesame seeds really added another dimension to the avocado. It was toasty and didn’t need any salt, which is generally unheard of with avo! Definitely will order this dish next time.

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Kiss Me Katut

My friend ordered this mango, pineapple and coconut smoothie that came with a giant scoop of passionfruit gelato. Sweet, tangy, refreshing and basically a meal in itself.

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Green smoothie of some description

I actually ordered a pear, kiwi, cucumber and kale juice however I received this green smoothie (unless it was just a really, really thick juice). I can’t actually figure out which smoothie this is from looking at the menu, so the more I think about it, it was probably what I ordered but maybe their juicer was broken and they had to use a blender? I tasted a lot of banana (maybe residue from the blender? Totally just making things up now…) which was a bit over powering but it was cold, refreshing and really filling.

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Salted Caramel Cronut

Oh yes. Not much to say but that it was flakey, crispy, sugary and had an oozy custard filling. The perfect way to end a meal.

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Ivy and the Fox may be a bit out of the way, but it’s definitely worth it! Give them a go.

Details for Ivy and the Fox:

Opening hours:

Weekdays

8am to 4:30pm

Weekends

8:30am to 3pm

Address:

Old Canberra House, 73 Lennox Crossing, Acton