Sunday, 12 October 2014

Breakfast Series - the HUB Cafe Kitchen

Ashgrove is not an area that I associate as a foodie hub, in fact, I kind of think of it as the start of the 'burbs and the end of the inner city area.  I'm thinking that I might have to reassess that view!  We were invited along to check out new Ashgrove restaurant the HUB Cafe Kitchen and thought breakfast would be ideal.

We're quite familiar with the Ashgrove, we used to live around the corner in Bardon and a long time ago, I lived in the Gap and drove up Waterworks Road every day to get home.  The HUB was located on Stewart Road, just off Waterworks Road and right by the shopping centre.  It hadn't been that long ago since our last visit to the area, when I dropped SC and her regular dining buddies for their Indian Curry nights, of which I am (thankfully) excused.  Annasamara was right next door to the HUB and when we pulled out the front, we were surprised by the flashy looking new restaurant and even more surprised that that little part of Steward Road had developed into a little foodie hub.

The HUB has pride of place once you turn the corner into Stewart Street and it's pretty hard to miss. The heritage listed corner store style cafe and been completely remodelled and has the feel of yesteryear but a very modern fit out.  As we walked into the restaurant, I was impressed with the very contemporary open style kitchen and bar area inside, and the open feeling of the main dining room, which had massive open doors that let the outside in.  We were greeted by co-owner and head chef John Lambkin, whom was impeccably dressed in his chef whites and a cool green apron that all of his staff were wearing.

We had a table reserved for us in a great spot in the main dining room, but right by the open doorway that gave us a fabulous view of both the restaurant and outside.  We were given a couple of the menus to look over while our fairly regular drink orders of a half strength latte and mango smoothie got underway.  I was really happy to see a pretty extensive range of smoothies on offer, including banana, mixed berries and the fairly unusual pineapple and even more unusual ginger.  I was really happy when my smoothie was presented, it looked thick and creamy, so thick that the mound of smoothie sat above the rim of the glass!

The breakfast menu at the HUB is not what I'd call extensive, but it does have a good mix of traditional and contemporary options.  Where it does excel is the very broad range of optional extras and a really great range of drinks, including smoothies, shakes, juices, teas and coffees. Most importantly, you're able to pretty much build your own breakfast as long as you order the house toasts and spreads.

It didn't take SC long to decide on the hotcakes for breakfast, in fact, I think it may have been a record - no more than three seconds had elapsed between looking at the menu and making her declaration.  The hotcakes came standard with whipped butter, maple syrup and strawberries, with the option of adding ice cream - feeling indulgent, SC went with the full stack.  I have to admit to being a little envious when the hotcakes arrived, there was a stack of three huge but fluffy looking hotcakes piled high with cream and ice cream and loads of fresh strawberries.  Best of all, there was a decent amount of maple syrup, which lasted the entire breakfast.  There was a lovely buttery sweetness in the cakes that worked well with the fresh strawberries - the addition of cream and ice cream were pure indulgence, but what the hey!

I'd gone with the turkish house toast with butter and a huge pile of sides, which included roasted tomato, scrambled eggs, mushrooms, bacon and chorizo.  When the plate was delivered, my initial thought was that the eggs were too runny - based mainly on the fact that I do like my eggs a little firmer.  As it turned out, the eggs were by far and away the most amazing element on the plate! They were runny, but perfectly cooked and all-so-creamy.  A side benefit of the eggs being a little on the runny side was that they could soak into the buttered turkish bread, which added butter to the mix and I was in heaven...  Yum.  

There were a couple of minor hiccups on the plate, the mushrooms, although well cooked, lacked seasoning and where they could have popped, they just tasted like mushrooms.  The biggest opportunity missed was with the chorizo, which was very high quality, but cooked like a normal sausage.  Chorizo is best cooked sliced, so each piece can bleed a little of that chorizo fat and each piece can achieve its own caramelisation.

After our meals had finished head chef John came out to have a bit of a chat about the restaurant and ask us what we thought of the breakfast.  Like all great chefs, John loved hearing about the great parts of the breakfast, but was very open to the feedback about the mushrooms and the chorizo.  We also got a feel for the passion that John has put into the place.  He was incredibly proud of the hard work to get their contemporary looking restaurant up and running and noted that they have changed the menu around twenty times since opening twelve weeks earlier.  The idea was to continue to use fresh local ingredients, but also listen to their diners and make changes when things were not quite right.

While we checked out the HUB for breakfast, John brought over the lunch and dinner menus, with the dinner service being the most impressive looking.  We did get sidetracked for a bit talking about pork chops, bacon, chorizo and pork belly and it was clear that John loved engaging with diners and was passionate about food.

The HUB had some awesome looking artwork on the walls to provide a really contemporary feel to the fit out, something which was helped by the cool dining chairs and beautiful fit out of the kitchen and bar.  There really was a big difference between the old corner store look from outside and the modern feel inside the restaurant.

John's staff were all really friendly and even though the dining room started to fill, they were courteous, friendly and efficient.  

There were a couple of minor issues with my breakfast that John took on board, but on the whole, the breakfast was lovely.  I'm contemplating altering my preference for slightly overdone scrambled eggs based solely on the scrambled eggs I had at the HUB were so delicious.  I'm thinking that a visit one night to check out the dinner menu will be in order!

** We were a guest of the HUB Cafe Kitchen and John for this meal

The hotcakes were superb
Just the right amount of maple syrup to get through the whole stack
Funky looking dining chairs
Some amazing art in the HUB - I really dig the styling
Lots of bright colours and avery modern feel
Yeah, that would look good in my apartment
The staff were great and all dressed in the funky green aprons
There were a couple of dining areas
And this is what it used to look like - big change!

Hub Cafe Kitchen on UrbanspoonHub Cafe Kitchen

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