Saturday, 21 December 2013

Breakfast Series - The Corner Store Cafe

A couple of months ago on one of our infrequent forays into the suburbs, we stumbled across a little cafe as we made our way home.  We didn't have time to stop in and check it out but made a mental note to check it out sometime.  As often happens with a 'mental note', it was soon forgotten and the Corner Store Cafe faded quickly from memory.

Fast forward a few months and we had to again go on a field trip to the suburbs, this time to hit our preferred medical centre at Taringa.  I was there to get a blood tests done and had been fasting from the day before, so we thought that grabbing a breakfast out in the 'burbs would be a good idea (I know, its not really that far away from the CBD).  With not much of an idea of where to eat in the western suburbs, I checked out urbanspoon and quickly spotted a name that was familiar, you guessed it the Corner Store Cafe.  

We thought it might be touch and go to get a table, mainly because our trip to the doctor wouldn't finish until about 9:15am, which would have put us right in the peak hour for breakfast.  Our real hope was that we would have been finished with the early risers crowd and not quite yet hit the brunch crew.  As we wound through the back streets of Toowong from our medical centre, I started to have doubts that SC's usual back street approach to driving through the suburbs would actually get us to out destination.   I needn't have worried as SC's internal GPS had us pulling up out the front of the Corner Cafe with nary a wrong turn.  And when I say pulling up out front, I mean right out front, SC managed to score a street park right in front of the cafe!

The Corner Store Cafe is a cute little 'turn-of-the-century' cottage on Sylvan Road in Toowong, which is one of the coolest suburbs in Brisbane (they do say that inner west is best).  The cafe really stands out, with it's stark white facade and open patio area that seats a heap of diners comfortably, it's almost like a beacon calling out for people to come and visit.  

We were in luck.  While it was still super busy, there were a couple of seats still available and we were quickly shown to a table under the wonderful patio area to one side of the cafe.  The patio area was split into two levels, with the retaining wall separating the levels used as seating for the upper area and I was comfortably sitting on a big cushion on this wall.  The menus we were given to look over had a small but relatively diverse range of breakfast goodies on offer.  The menu had a good mix of traditional and contemporary fare and doubled as the lunch menu as well as having a decent looking drinks selection on the flip side.

Being really busy, we flagged down our waitress and took the opportunity to order drinks and breakfast at the same.  A short while later SC's half strength latte came out in the smallest glass we had seen for a while.  It was kind of small and skinny at the same time which would have attributed the strength of the coffee, which was probably half strength in a normal sized glass, but in this little baby was more like a third strength.  I'd ordered a mango smoothy, which came out a few minutes after SC's coffee.  I had been getting a bit nervous about it being forgotten and as I was about to follow up on it, our waitress was headed our way with my glass. The smoothy was quite nice and had a great texture and consistency but it lacked just a little bit in flavour.  I could taste the mango, but it could have been stronger.

There was not much of a hesitation for SC in choosing her breakfast with the 'croque madame' with pane toast, leg ham, gruyere, fried egg, pickled onion and seeded mustard being a standout.  A croque madame is essentially just a big toasted sandwich and this one was huge, so big it dominated the bread board it was delivered on.  It was not only huge, it was scrumptious!  The pane toast was golden and brown with thick leg ham that is perfect for this Christmassy time of the year.  What set this apart though was the melted gruyere which had a beautiful full bodied flavour and had seeped into every nook and cranny in the sandwich.  The perfectly 'sunny side up' fried egg added some yolky flavour to the dish and the seeded mustard and pickled onion gave it some contrasting 'bite', overall it was a winner.

There is an extraordinarily large number of ways of having eggs at the Corner Store Cafe, in fact I've never seen so many options of having eggs 'your way'.  They came poached, fried, scrambled, chilli-fried, chilli-scrambled and green scrambled.  Whew, there were almost too many options but for me the simplicity of well cooked and creamy scrambled eggs is the only way to go.

I ordered my scrambled eggs with a side of roast tomato, bacon, mushrooms and chorizo.  I suspected that it would be a big plate of food and when it was delivered I was not disappointed. I was especially hungry after my fast and thought a big plate of food would see me right, and mostly it did.  There were a couple of standouts on the plate for me, the scrambled eggs were in fact creamy, fluffy and perfectly cooked.  The bacon was great, nice and tasty and cooked just right and the tomato, while not what I was expecting was wonderful.  There were dozens of red and yellow cherry tomatoes that packed a punch of flavour, even thought they were slippery little suckers and hard to spear with a fork.  I had some issues with the mushrooms, which admittedly were well cooked, but the lacked any seasoning at all and were just bland.  The main issue though was with the chorizo, it wasn't chorizo for me, spicy sausage yes, but not chorizo and it really disappointed me....

We were amazed with how packed the Corner Store Cafe was and had forgotten what it was like to hang out in the inner western suburbs of Brisbane.  We weren't looking that scruffy ourselves but there were some peeps that had really dressed up for breakfast, nothing strange there.  What we also noticed was the 'Lorna Jane' set that were wearing their exercise gear out for breakfast.  Now it is possible that they had been out for a workout and were looking to refuel but it was equally possible that it was just the 'look' they were going for and I find that a little strange.

The breakfast was pretty good but was let down a little for me with the mushrooms and chorizo.  I'm amazed at how many cafes put mushrooms on a plate without the right amount of seasoning, or even any seasoning at times.  It can be the difference between a good breakfast and an amazing one and I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that mushrooms are a little bland without a pinch of salt and pepper.  The other issue at the Corner Store Cafe was the chorizo, which is one of my favourite food substances ever.  The sausage on the plate just didn't match up to any chorizo I've had before and I'm pretty sure it was just a spicy sausage (there is a big difference).  So, for me there are just a couple of things that could have elevated this from a good breakfast to great.

I can see how the Corner Store Cafe would be a big hit with the inner west (is best) set, it's in a great location, the building is amazing, especially with the huge outdoor dining area and the menu is pretty decent.  On a beautiful sunny Saturday morning after a fast and a decent feed, I was feeling pretty content.  Bring on the rest of the day!

I'm seeing heaps of old milk jugs being used as water jugs lately and I like it...
Light fluffy eggs were great but the mushrooms needed seasoning and the chorizo was not chorizo
The mustard and pickled onions really added to the croque madame
The lower deck area was packed.  Is it just me, or are there a lot of blondes in this photo?
The kitchen and inside area of the old cottage that make up the Corner Store Cafe

Corner Store Cafe on UrbanspoonCorner Store Cafe

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