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Sunday, April 11, 2010

John Street Cafe

I generally like to have a bit of fun with the titles of my posts. They might be a little groan-worthy at times but I figure it's best to start off how you aim to continue. For this review though, I aimed to spend as much time coming up with a post title as the owners of the restaurant did coming up with their business name.

John Street Cafe is located on John Street, in Cottesloe. It is a cafe.

Although it is not located on the water (it is about 400m up the street from the beach), it certainly has a beachy vibe with the blue exterior, alfresco tables, inside dining that is quite open to the elements, and of course the Norfolk Island Pine Trees which are quintessentially Cottesloe (though perhaps not so much as they are quintessentially Norfolk Island).

Also adding to the beachy vibe are marine themed paintings decorating each table. The table in the below photo was a little difficult to see with the glare coming off it, and I originally thought I was photographing it the right way up. Can't you see the octopus in the top left, and a funny crab with crazy yellow eyes hanging out in some orange seaweed? Upon realising my error I had a look at Ms Mermaid the right way up, and found her a little mannish for my liking so I'll show you Messrs Octopus and Crab instead.

The specials are written up on a blackboard inside, and also on the specials menu, and I was quite excited to see that one of them was "corn cakes, smoked salmon, cream cheese, rocket, red onion and avocado" ($21.50). I then perused the usual breakfast menu, which is actually available all day, and upon spying "the vegetarian lot" which consists of "free range eggs, homemade hash brown, mushrooms, tomato, homemade baked beans and organic toast" ($19.50) I found myself torn. I was unable to decide until the waitress came to take our order, and I suddenly found myself eagerly ordering the special. My eagerness was shortlived however, as it turned out that the smoked salmon special was for lunch only. Thwarted!

Luckily for me, I was a little thrown by this so just ordered "the vegetarian lot" without thinking to change anything with it. I say luckily because I've just noticed the menu says "please don't ask for changes, as refusal may offend".

This reminds me of a breakfast visit to the Blue Duck, also in Cottesloe, a few months ago. I ordered the "smoked salmon benedict" but asked for it to be without the hollandaise (I know, I know) and with the addition of some grilled tomatoes. The waitress said "we don't do substitutions" then stood staring at me. I then asked if it was possible to get the dish without hollandaise, and was told that was fine, so I followed this up by asking for some additional tomato, which was apparently also fine. Voila, smoked salmon benedict without hollandaise and with grilled tomato! I'm a magician.

The Vegetarian Lot - free range eggs, homemade hash brown, mushrooms, tomato, homemade baked beans and organic toast ($19.50)

Homemade hash brown, as part of The Vegetarian Lot

We didn't have to wait too long for our meals, and were impressed with how they looked when they arrived. The hash brown and baked beans certainly looked "homemade" and the eggs seemed nicely poached. This tasty appearance however was ultimately the downfall of the dish, as the taste really didn't live up to expectations. The beans were a little too hard for my liking, and seemed quite under seasoned as they were surprisingly bland. Similarly, the hash brown looked tasty with the wholegrain mustard and parsley running through it, but it didn't have much taste to it and was a bit stodgy in texture. Luckily the eggs were cooked well with a runny yolk, and the bread was quite nice too. The mushrooms were the saving grace of the meal - a generous serving, packed with flavour, and not overly oily.

We also ordered two long blacks, which came out before our meals. The coffees had a decent taste and temperature, though mine was totally devoid of any crema. We stayed chatting for some time after finishing our meals and ordered one more coffee each, and this time they were quite watery, so I guess overall the coffees were a little hit and miss.

The service throughout our visit was great. Attentive from the moment we arrived, and very friendly, even when delivering bad news about the lack of breakfast corn cakes and salmon. Sadly however the meals and coffees were disappointing, despite spending over $50 for the two meals and four coffees, and I will not be returning in a hurry. A shame really, I'd have liked to see Messrs Octopus and Crab again.

John Street Cafe
Address: 37 John Street, Cottesloe
Phone: 08 9384 3390
Opening Hours: Daily 7:15am - 5:00pm

John Street Cafe on Urbanspoon


Mark @ Cafe Campana April 11, 2010 at 10:38 PM  

It's a little disappointing it didn't taste the best because the menu description and the photo look good. I am a little unsure of green things in hash browns. They are meant to be brown, as the name suggests.

pTsaldari April 11, 2010 at 11:27 PM  

Dear Hold the Hollandaise! Really enjoyed your visit to John Street Cafe. It amazes me how everything may seem so perfect and up market but when it comes to the true test - to test the true mettle of a food establishment - poof it's gone along with the Hollandaise sauce! Pity, because it wasn't cheap! Always enjoy your blog,

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite April 12, 2010 at 6:39 AM  

Yes I wondered about the green bits in the hash browns too. Now am scratching my head to think of a GREAT place for brunch when you hopefully come to Toronto in June....

Ian R April 12, 2010 at 7:16 AM  

I'm glad that someone else had a similar reaction to me at this overhyped joint.

Don't get me wrong, my breakfast was good (I also had the vego the lot), but it wasn't great. Given the lofty reputation (this place is absolutely raved about in the Western Suburbs "the maid's off today, let's go out for breakfast" set) and lofty prices, I was expecting a lot more and came away disappointed.

Food lover April 12, 2010 at 7:36 AM  

It's so frustrating when you are served a dish that looks amazing, only to realise the taste doesn't match its looks... And coffee devoid of crema is just not right. Hope you are luckier next time :)

Pam April 12, 2010 at 8:45 AM  

What a bummer that the food and coffee didn't meet your expectations... at least you had good service.

vickys April 12, 2010 at 8:49 AM  

The menu does sound sooo yum though! And it really sucks when the service is tops but the food doesn't match. You feel kinda like the good friend who doesn't wanna tell you friend how bad her hair is...

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella April 12, 2010 at 8:52 AM  

LOL at the post title reasoning! :P A bit of a shame that it didn't get get there but good tip on getting substitutions done ;)

Evelyne @ CheapEthnicEatz April 12, 2010 at 8:58 AM  

Ah too bad it did not live up too expectations. Tables are cool though!

Gastronomy Gal April 12, 2010 at 9:03 AM  

Ah ha - the good old 'rephrase the sentence to get what you are after trick.' Good one!

Jo - SecondHelping April 12, 2010 at 10:59 AM  

I enjoy the titles of your posts - and often try and work out from the title that appears in my reader what it is going to be about before I read it!

I don't think this place was deserving of your creativity - so good choice for this post!

Devan April 12, 2010 at 1:22 PM  

It looks like the mermaid is balancing the salt shaker on her left boob. You could have had fun with the salt and pepper and place them in different positions on the mermaid.

$19.50 for a breakfast is so damn expensive. You're paying for the Octopus and Crab ;)

April @ My Food Trail April 12, 2010 at 1:59 PM  

I love the clever titles of your post so please keep it up! :) And as I have said many times before, I love your writing style too!

LOL @ Devan's comment. You so should have repositioned the salt & pepper shakers on Ms Mermaid!

I think it almost better to have a meal that looks terrible and tastes fantastic than the other way around!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef April 12, 2010 at 3:22 PM  

Mark @ Cafe Campana - I know, doubly disappointing when it looks so promising! I hadn't thought of the brown issue before, you are totally right!

pTsaldari - hehe, I should change my blog name! Thanks very much, your words are too true sadly. At least I'm used to paying such silly prices in Perth, it's all too common here to get reamed for mediocre food. Thank you!

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite - all the more things to get stuck in my teeth, dammit. Oooooh Toronto brunch. Maybe we could squeeze in breakfast and lunch around brunch too ;)

Ian R - I agree - the brekky was good, and I ate most of it (left most of the hash brown and beans) but certainly not worth being hyped, or the price. I wasn't really aware of the reputation to be honest, so I didn't have too high an expectation and still ended up disappointed. I guess I'll have to find somewhere else to go while my maid is off.

Food lover - yes me too. I think I'll try my luck elsewhere though!

Pam - very true, you're willing to overlook a bit when the service is good, but I'd much rather overlook somewhat bad service for excellent food.

vickys - Nice analogy. Both very tricky situations ;)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella - thanks! Now to figure out how to pull a rabbit out of my hat. I like rabbit, it's tasty.

Evelyne @ CheapEthnicEatz - Maybe I could just take my own porridge with me and sit with Messrs Crab and Octopus.

Gastronomy Gal - an oldy but a goody :D

Jo - SecondHelping - thank you! I hope I don't run out of stupid one liners or cheesy wordplays any time soon. Surely my brain is full of such silliness :) Thanks!

Devan - Oh man, why didn't I think of that? I could've completed the mannish appearance with a pepper five o'clock shadow too!!

April @ My Food Trail - thank you thank you :D I know, what a lost opportunity, and I completely agree with the look/taste problem. Much better to be pleasantly surprised by an ugly dish, even if it means ugly blog photos ;)

Betty @ The Hungry Girl April 12, 2010 at 7:41 PM  

Oh, such a shame about the lacklustre meal :( I hate when that happens. I'm glad you outsmarted the waitress at Blue Duck! Hah. No substitutes is so silly, what if people are allergic to certain things? Lame.

Agnes April 13, 2010 at 11:07 AM  

That's a pricey vegetarian breakfast! Or is that Perth prices?

I liked your substitution story - who's a smartie pants? ;)

penny aka jeroxie April 13, 2010 at 5:10 PM  

$50 for 2 meals and 4 coffees? I wont be running back there anytime soon either.

Hannah April 13, 2010 at 6:57 PM  

The breakfast is available all day but the specials only at lunch? Classic. :P

I also love your hollandaise story - I had a similar experience when a waitress told me they couldn't make an affogato, despite serving both ice cream and coffee, because "the kitchen and bar are different".

5 Star Foodie April 13, 2010 at 9:02 PM  

Neat table decorations! So sorry that this place didn't live up to your expectations.

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge April 14, 2010 at 5:36 AM  

I totally got sucked in!! That hashbrown looks so tasty, would not have guessed that it would turn out stogy and bland.

I havent had my morning coffee yet, I seriously could not see any crabs or octopi (pleural is octopi right?).....I can however see the mermaid....with some seriously flabby arms!!

tasteofbeirut April 14, 2010 at 10:26 AM  

Funny! there is a similar type of place in Dallas.

Rachel@Coconut Crumbs April 15, 2010 at 5:26 AM  

just for the record, I appreciate your fun post titles!

Lori @ Wannabe Gourmand April 15, 2010 at 12:36 PM  

I had to turn my laptop upside down to make sure that those suspiciously placed black squiggles were the straps for her shell brassiere and not an unfortunate patch of body hair. Have been to John St a couple of times and have also felt food is so-so...more of a place to be seen for the local Cott mums I think.

Conor @ HoldtheBeef April 15, 2010 at 10:08 PM  

Betty @ The Hungry Girl - that waitress was no match for my hungry self! I know - I can understand that they don't want people to just invent their own dishes, but a couple of simple changes of a dish that is composed of separate parts anyway, is surely not impossible?

Agnes - Perth prices, oh yes. They aren't all so bad, of course, but this is not at all surprising :( hehe, it's me! :D

penny aka jeroxie - Totally!

Hannah - Fools! I had a friend get told once that they couldn't have an affogato because the kitchen was closed and they were only serving drinks (including coffee) and their basic desserts (including ice cream).

5 Star Foodie - At least I made the most of the tables for my probably one and only visit. The tables and I will always have those 45 minutes.

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge - they got you too!! Goddamn sneaky tasty-looking tricksters. Perhaps you need an Irish morning coffee first (unlike the mermaid who needs a protein shake and some dumbells)

tasteofbeirut - I guess it's a little like faces - there are only a finite number of possible variations, right? :)

Rachel@Coconut Crumbs - thank you!! I shall continue :D

Lori @ Wannabe Gourmand - nah she seems to have kept up the personal grooming at least, I guess using oyster shells or something. Glad it's not just me (with the so-so food, not with the using oyster shells).

mademoiselle délicieuse April 18, 2010 at 8:31 PM  

Ahhh, shame it wasn't as good as it seemed. Real shame, esp given the attentive service.

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My love of cooking is surpassed only by my love of eating, though I never quite recovered from the beef I was served at college. I'll try almost anything once, but it takes a very special piece of offal or beef to get me to try it again.

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