Veganuary Challenge 2017

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Some of my readers may have heard of Veganuary. For those who haven’t it’s a food challenge where you eat vegan foods for the whole month of January. So that’s no products that come from an animal – including cutting out honey and even some wines!

The purpose is to raise awareness of animal suffering, help the environment, but also showing that being vegan is not as limiting as people think. I was definitely a curious carnivore but also reluctant to give up my favourite food groups…

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Aubergine Restaurant

Aubergine is a quiet little restaurant tucked away at the Griffith shops in Canberra. It has a small outdoor garden area and many tables for two inside facing alongside the floor to ceiling windows.

Before December 2015, we had only been here once as a couple because it is a very popular fine dining restaurant (therefore expensive), and we have been attempting to try all of the fine dining restaurants in Canberra (without blowing the budget!) We decided to return to Aubergine for our anniversary so we could celebrate in style and with some delicious food and wine.

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Weekday Dinner at Little Brooklyn in Kingston

As many of my readers may have guessed, I love anything vintage and vintage inspired. My favourite decades are the 1920s, 1950s and 1980s. I particularly love how there are vintage inspired restaurants and cafes popping up everywhere at the moment.

Little Brooklyn is a funky restaurant and bar in one of the restaurant suburbs of Canberra: Kingston. It has vintage posters spanning various decades plastered all over the walls. There are cute round tables with red and white checkered table clothes and larger booths up against the walls. It’s cosy yet spacious.

I actually had my “vintage inspired” 25th birthday party here just after it had first opened. It was lots of fun and I had been thinking that I should return again, but I guess I never got around to it.

This time my mum, my sister and myself happened to be in Kingston around dinner time, so we decided to grab something to eat at Little Brooklyn.

From memory, the menu has changed quite a lot in the last 18 months. There was no risotto like I remembered having for my birthday. There also did not seem to be many gluten free dishes available. What is in abundance is a good choice of burgers and lots of American style food.

We happened to be there on a Wednesday which was the $15 wings night. The deal gives you 1kg (that’s right a whole kilogram) of chicken wings, and a drink, for just $15. I was pretty tempted to get it, but no one wanted to share with me and I definitely wasn’t going to be able to eat 1kg of wings for myself… Or could I? Challenge accepted, pending the availability on a later date…

I decided on nachos, because, well, they are my favourite food. They were listed in the “Fingers” section, so I didn’t expect them to be a large serving. The menu didn’t say that they were gluten free, but I was willing to risk it for my favourite meal.

When it came out, I realised that it was creamy sauce-like cheese, not the grated tasty cheese I have come to expect from nachos. I think this is just the American style of food that this place offers, so I probably should have thought about that beforehand.

I’m not a big fan of these creamy sauce cheese. It reminds me of mayonnaise, and I’m fairly certain mayonnaise comes in a bottle… I don’t think cheese should come in a bottle. Cheese is not liquid and comes in a solid block – and I should know – I come from Bega, the land of Bega Cheese!

Anyway, enough about cheese.

So the nachos had a delicious bean and tomato salsa mixture. This was supposed to be mixed through pulled steak…but there was hardly any meat in my nachos. I’m actually perfectly happy with vegetarian nachos, but if I am told that I am getting meat in my nachos, I expect a good meat to chip ratio.

Speaking of the chips, they were not the usual corn chips that I am used to. They had a different kind of aoperance to them – they almost looked translucent. But they tasted pretty good!

There was nothing special about the presentation of food. The nachos and burgers my mum and sister bought all came out in woven baskets and gave it a casual feel. This definitely tied in with the restaurants rustic 1950s look.

My mum and sister both got the Big Brooklyn Burgers. I was surprised the burger wasn’t bigger when it was advertised to be a “big” burger. I was informed by my mum and sister that their burgers were alright, but nothing to special.

The burgers came with a side of chips and aioli dipping sauce. I had some of this with a couple of chips and it was enjoyable.

I left the restaurant not feeling quite satisfied with my meal, but I love the vintage quirkiness of the place, so I guess I would probably still come back… Actually, I do want to try the $15 Wings deal so I will be back to give Little Brooklyn a second chance.

My Rating of Little Brooklyn

Atmosphere: 4/5 | Customer Service: 3.5/5 | Speed of Service: 4/5 | Presentation of Food: 2.5/5 | Taste: 3/5 | Value for Money: 3.5/5

Total Score: 20.5/30

Overall: Little Brooklyn if funky and cute place to go for a casual dinner. I wouldn’t recommend the nachos but I am keen to return for the $15 wings!

For more information on Little Brooklyn go to their website by clicking here

 

Have you been to Little Brooklyn in Kingston? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section!

Bye for now,

Vintage Barbie xoxo

All opinions in this post are my own. Unless otherwise stated, this post has not been sponsored and I have not been paid for this post

See you in the Social Media Atmosphere:

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aussie heath products gluten free allergy

Friday Lunch at Treehouse Bar Canberra

It seems that I have been treating myself to a sit down lunch at least once a fortnight, normally the day after pay day. While it is good to save money, I work pretty hard so it’s nice to treat myself and properly get away from work for a hour.

Recently I went for lunch with a friend from work and we decided to try the $9 lunches at Treehouse. This little place used to be a dingy bar full of people in black clothes only, sticky floors and barely any lighting. It had an alternative type of crowd and it was sometimes fun to go on uni-night. A few years ago it was done up with the front windows opening up, a funky upstairs area, and a beautiful fairylight tree. It’s still a little dark inside, but definitely not dingy anymore!

I like the welcoming atmosphere of Treehouse and its a nice place to come for cocktails or a bite to eat when having Friday drinks. But lunch at Treehouse is definitely something new to me. I have walked past the $9 lunches sign so often, I would think that I would have dined here plenty of times!

When we came in for lunch, we were escorted to the bar-like-seating around the walls of the establishment. Once seated, two tall glasses of iced water were quickly brought over to us. This is something I hadn’t experienced before and was great to see that they already had the initiative to give us water – I hate having to ask for something as simple as a glass of water!

Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of the lunch menu, but there were approximately 5 dishes on there for the $9 deal. My friend chose the linguini and I chose the chicken tenders. I forgot to ask if the tenders were gluten free but nothing stood out as containing gluten and I didn’t get sick afterwards so I am fairly certain they were gluten free.

The food also came out so quickly. The staff apologised for the wait but we were surprised at how quick it was! We actually finished our lunch with 15 minutes to spare before we had to return to work… Pretty sure the food was cooked in less than 10 minutes!

The linguini was a good lunch size – probably around an entree size. If I was eating this I would be pretty happy with this size because you don’t want to feel weighed down and sluggish when having to return to work later.

Mine dish had three smallish tenders of chicken breast and a few large pieces of Cos Lettuce. I’m glad there was the coconut rice with it to help fill my hungry tummy. There was also a generous serving of sauce next to the rice, and I didn’t get to eat all of it so there was definitely enough. There was also lots of herbs over the rice which gave the dish a fresh taste.

The combination of all the ingredients was like a fresh Asian inspired taste. The chicken was cooked well. It was still slightly juicy and definitely not dry. I really enjoyed this lunch, but just wish there was more. Unfortunately I left still hungry. I understand that it is lunch, but for someone like me who prefers to eat lots for lunch and less for dinner, I was a little disappointed with the amount of food on my plate.

I thought the presentation of the food was great, and I suppose more food would make the plate look crowed and messy. It is quite possible that the pretty presentation is the reason for smaller sized chicken tenders.

The service was great. The staff were friendly and I particularly liked that they allowed us to split the bill. I think we may have been talking to the owner about this – he was saying that he will often not go back to a restaurant if they don’t allow groups to split the bill. I think that is very true, and in today’s society were hardly anyone carries cash on them, so we need to cater for that and splitting bills should be a must.

My Rating of Lunch at Treehouse Bar

Atmosphere: 4/5 | Customer Service: 4/5 | Speed of Service: 5/5 | Presentation of Food: 4/5 | Taste: 4/5 | Value for Money: 4/5

Total Score: 25/30

Overall thoughts: I would definitely go back to Treehouse for lunch, but I might have to order a side of chips to keep me from leaving hungry!

For more information on Treehouse Bar, click here

Have you been to Treehouse? Post your thoughts, comments and links to your reviews in the comments of this post 🙂

Bye for now,

Vintage Barbie xoxo

All opinions in this post are my own. Unless otherwise stated, this post has not been sponsored and I have not been paid for this post

See you in the Social Media Atmosphere:

Instagram: @vintagebarbie17 | Facebook: Adventures of Vintage Barbie – Blog | Twitter: @vintage_barbie1 | Polyvore: vintagebarbie17 | Pinterest: @vintagebarbie17

High Tea at The Tea Salon Sydney

I’ve been to quite a few hens weekends. A lot of them have been in Sydney as well. I definitely had fun at the last one I attended, which including high tea at The Tea Salon.

This is not your traditional high tea. It is set right in the centre of shops in the Pitt Street Westfield mall, which I found a little strange at first. It also looks like it is permanently busy, especially if people can come in when they are in the middle of their shopping. However this gives it a casual, relaxed kind of feel. There is a secret little kitchen off behind some shops, with a large cabinet in the centre of the cafe for water and glasses. It is very cute, a little kitsch and fairly girlie. They had so many cute serving dishes and teacups that I would like to have at home myself!

We had a very group, I think around 20 people. Obviously this kind of place is not meant for groups this big and it looked like they had struggled to fit us all in the same area. Quite a few of the round tables were pushed together, which made the placing of food very squished, and also made socialising with others a little difficult. I often had my back to some of my friends because of how we were set up with the round tables.

Staff seemed a little overwhelmed at times. There was no coming to the table to make sure that our food was ok and no one coming to top up water. They didn’t even leave the water jug so we could top up our glasses ourselves, which was a little annoying considering I wanted water, not champagne at that time in the day. Although, the pink champagne was pretty nice… Just wish I felt like drinking it and it probably would have enjoyed it more..

The great thing about this place is that you can choose to eat a la carte, or select the high tea platter. There are also many options available for vegetarians, gluten free, dairy free and even pregnant women.

So for once, I was actually rewarded for my gluten intolerance – I got a whole platter to myself! It was amazing! There were so many pieces of food that I literally took a bit of everything but could not get anywhere near finishing my platter!

There were the standard scones with jam and cream, but also blueberry scones and raisin scones with orange marmalade. If you order scones off the al a carte menu then you can try a fair few different tasty treats.

I found the gluten free scones to taste extremely doughy and even with the jam and cream they were quite dry. I somewhat expected this of gluten free scones though as it would be difficult to make scones with the same texture and taste as your regular, gluten included scones.

There were lots of sweet things and I literally could not eat them all. However I made sure I tasted everything, even if it was only a little bite. There was this indescribable dessert in a shot glass. I think it was a custard of some sort with tea on top. It reminded me of camomile flower buds mixed with some other tea. As I said, it was indescribable, mainly because it have no idea what it was! I also was not a fan of the taste.

Champagne was fairly nice too. It was pink, sparkly and had a sweet taste to it. However it added on an extra $11 to the total bill, so keep that is something to keep in mind for next time.

There was a good selection of teas to choose from – There were a few regular black teas and green teas, rooibos, chai and then a good selection of flavoured teas. I can’t remember what it was called and I forgot to take a picture of the tea menu, but I do remember that it was kind of like an apple pie. It was scrumptious!

My rating of The Tea Salon

Atmosphere: 3.5/5 | Customer Service: 3/5 | Speed of Service: 4/5 | Presentation of Food: 4.5/5 | Taste: 4/5 | Value for Money: 4/5

Total Score: 23/30

For more information on The Tea Salon, go to their website: http://www.theteasalon.com.au

I would definitely like to go to The Tea Salon again to try out many more of their funky teas and possibly get some other delicious treats on the menu.

Have you been to The Tea Salon? Tell me your thoughts on this place!

Bye for now,

Vintage Barbie

All opinions in this post are my own. Unless otherwise stated, this post has not been sponsored and I have not been paid for this post

See you in the Social Media Atmosphere:

Instagram: @vintagebarbie17 | Facebook: Adventures of Vintage Barbie – Blog | Twitter: @vintage_barbie1 | Polyvore: vintagebarbie17 | Pinterest: @vintagebarbie17

Rustic Rocky Road

I love taking my baked goods into work to share with everyone. I love trying out new recipes at home, but sometimes I don’t want to eat the whole batch for myself. The alternative is to take the treats into work, which is always nice for my work colleagues. 🙂

I have been wanting to make rocky road for a while, so I figured that making it for my work colleagues would be a good idea. I tried out one batch but decided it didn’t work out – I used too much coconut, and no where near enough chocolate… no one should ever have to hear the words “not enough chocolate”!

I decided that this previous recipe wasn’t good enough for work. Frankly, I was a bit embarrassed (although my partner and my sister seemed to enjoy it!)

So I tried the recipe again over the weekend. This time I used plenty of chocolate. I used a lot less coconut too. I also decided to mix it up a bit and use a pack of four flavour/colours of marshmallows as well as some soft jubes. Looks like it turned out well because everyone came back for a second (or third) piece of this batch of rocky road!

My recipe uses a lot of chocolate – half a kilo to be exact. And whilst this sounds like a lot at first, remember that you mix it in with other ingredients, so it’s a good idea to have a lot of chocolate so the taste chocolate isn’t lost in all the other ingredients.

When I mixed in my marshmallows, I let them sit on top of the chocolate as I was taking photos… In the meantime they melted slightly… When I mixed them into the chocolate they were a little gooey but I think this actually worked in my favour as they were mixed in just right.

The best part about this recipe (other than the chocolate and sugar hit) is that it’s super easy to make – just melt, mix, set, cut and eat! It really is that simple!

Ingredients

500g milk cooking chocolate – you could also use a mixture of milk and dark cooking chocolate

250g salted butter

2 cups of marshmallows – I chose a four flavour mix

1 cup soft jube lollies

1/2 cup glacé cherries – optional but recommended to use anyway

1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts – You could also buy whole and roughly chop up

1/4 cup desiccated coconut

Method

1. Cut the marshmallows in half and set aside. Roughly chop the macadamias if using whole macadamia nuts. Measure out all other ingredients and set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat.

3. Break up the chocolate and allow it to melt in with the melted butter. Mix butter and chocolate around with a wooden spoon (or large plastic ladell if you don’t have a wooden spoon). Ensure chocolate is fully melted.

4. Poor in the remaining ingredients. Mix around until all ingredients are completely covered in chocolate.

5. Grease a small baking tray with butter or oil and line it with baking paper – the butter or oil will help the paper stay in place. Poor in mixture. Ensure mixture is evenly distributed in tray.

6. Place in fridge for a minimum of four hours. I recommend leaving it in there overnight.

7. When mixture is set, remove from baking tray and remove baking paper. Use a sharp kitchen knife to cut strips of the mixture. Then cut the strips into bite sized pieces.

Store in a plastic container in the fridge.

Optional: you can sprinkle with icing sugar before serving

Do you have a rocky road recipe?

Don’t forget to tag me in your pics if you make this recipe!

Instagram: @vintagebarbie17 | Twitter: @vintage_barbie1 | Facebook: Adventures of Vintage Barbie – Blog

 

 

NAIDOC Week Function at Canberra Convention Centre

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a function at the Canberra National Convention Centre. I was lucky enough to be invited to the Aboriginal Hostels Limited NAIDOC Week luncheon. I was invited to go through the work organised tickets and went along with 5 other people from work.

It was a terrible, cold winter day outside, and it was definitely no fun walking in the wind and rain over to the Convention Centre from my work.

Once we were there we realised that this was quite a big luncheon. There were fifty tables of 10 – yep that’s right – 500 people were at this function. The funny thing was that the Grand Hall that we were in wasn’t even full!

It felt like forever before we were served our meals. There was the starter bread, but of course I couldn’t eat it.

A waiter came over and asked me if anyone had any dietary requirements. I told him that I am gluten intolerant and one of the girls is a vegetarian. I assume he forgot about this entirely, or didn’t tell anyone – when the mains came out they tried to give the vegetarian a steak, not just once, but twice!

Speaking of the timing for mains, it was very haphazard. One main was placed down at our table, then another one came five minutes later and ten minutes after the first dish was placed down was when they finally brought out the remaining dishes. I guess they probably shouldn’t have brought those dishes to our table as there were a few surrounding tables that seemed to have the same thing happen.

Good thing the food was good! The steak was juicy, moist and tender. It looked fairly pink – probably rare. The mash was creamy and smooth, but there was only about a tablespoon of it. I wish there was more! The mushroom sauce was also delicious, but it was very thin and watery.

It wasn’t until we were eating our mains that someone finally came to our table and asked us if we wanted any drinks. Well, he actually asked if we wanted any more drinks, but we hadn’t even been asked for our first round of drinks! Oh well…

When the desserts came out I tried to tell them that I’m gluten intolerant but the wait staff seemed to ignore this. Both desserts were not gluten free, but the Poached Pear at least had the least amount of gluten than the Chocolate Cake Mousse, so I chose to eat the pear. There were some kind of crumbs scattered all over the bottom of the plate, so I picked up my pear and scrapped the crumbs off to the side.

The pear itself was perfectly poached. It also had a tangy taste to it – like a mixture of cider and lemonade. I couldn’t quite out my finger on it, but I definitely enjoyed it. It was even more delicious when it was dunked in the sweet creamy angliase sauce on the side. I could eat this desert all day!

Overall, I enjoyed the experience at the National Convention Centre. But if I was having a wedding or another large important event, I probably wouldn’t pick this place because of the lack of organisation and attention to detail by waitstaff.

Friday Night Sharing Plates at Soju Girl

I remember when Soju Girl opened a few years ago. It was considered a hip new place to go. I went when it was still in its early days with a small group of people. Back then I enjoyed quite a few cocktails as well as the share style meals.

I was invited to go recently, and whilst there certainly were no cocktails involved, it was a lovely dining experience with a group of people from my work.

A Zucchini Flower, as well as trying a prawn and lychee from the Spicy Prawn Dish

The kind of eating at Soju Girl is described as “refined Asian sharing plates”. It’s a similar experience to going to a Chinese restaurant and each person on the table ordering a different dish to be shared with the group, alongside steamed or fried rice.

There are more choices than would usually be expected at this hipster-style restaurant. Surprisingly there are plenty of gluten free options – about 75% of the menu. I love that on the menu it says “the menu has been designed with gluten intolerance in mind” – hooray! I actually have a choice this time and not a forced choice!
The menu also caters for vegetarians and even vegan.

My table consisted of a variety of dietary requirements: gluten intolerant (me), vegetarian, vegan, and two people with shellfish allergies. With that many dietary requirements, eating out can be difficult, often with people feeling left out or feeling like they are that “annoying person”.

It’s good that there is finally a place that caters for all dietary requirements! And I love that it’s a pass-the-dish-around kind of setting. It gets people talking, breaks the ice between people that don’t know each other very well, and truly allows everyone to fill their bellies with delicious food.

The friendly staff always make sure that everyone knows how it works at Soju Girl before they let everyone properly look at the menu.

Essentially there are the large plates and the small plates. You choose a few plates to share around the table, and you can add some sides on as well. The dishes will usually be staggered throughout your time there, so you are not overloaded with too many choices at once, and so the dishes compliment one another.

Crispy Pork Belly

Food reviews

Zucchini Flowers: I’ve got two words for this dish: absolutely delicious. The fillng tasted like minced turkey or pork mince, although it was completely vegetarian (and gluten free!). It came with a ginger, soy sauce and capsicum dipping sauce. They didn’t even need the sauce though because they were so tasty! My dish of the night!

Pan Tossed Prawns with Crispy Noodle Salad: whilst this dish technically not gluten free I ate part of it anyway. The prawns had been mixed with lychees which gave it a nice sweet taste. The prawns themselves had a delicious slightly spicy taste to them. The only problem was that my prawn had not been entirely removed from its shell, causing me to have an uncomfortable chunchy bite into part of my prawn. But the meat of the prawn melted in your mouth. The sauce had a tomato-style-tang to it. It came with a crispy noodle salad, which I obviously didn’t have as it is not gluten free.

Crispy Pork Belly: Not the best pork belly I’ve ever had. It was not a melting in your mouth experience like I usually have with pork belly. The crackling was thin but not too salty. It had a pleasant taste but it isn’t something I would choose again.

Lamb Shoulder in Massaman Curry: This dish was a lot bigger than I expected! There was a very generous lamb shoulder in the middle of the curry dish. It had a medium spice to it, delicious aroma, and was well marinated. We ordered some steamed rice to have with this dish.

Sizzling Asian Mushrooms: The sizzling mushrooms came out like the sizzling lamb dish at Chinese restaurants – in the same kind of plate, with the dish still sizzling away. It was mixed with fried egg, tofu and Asian vegetables. It was another winner dish for me. It was great that this dish could be eaten by almost everyone at the table – it was gluten free and vegetarian, but not vegan. Although the it was not entirely vegan, the vegan diner at our table still ate some of the vegetables out of this dish and it seemed that she enjoyed the taste of this dish as well.

Lamb Shoulder Massaman Curry

I was totally shocked that after all that food it was only $26 per person! And that was even after everyone put in money for the person the dinner was in honour for.

I would definitely recommend going to Soju Girl and I am already thinking about planning another dinner there soon. It would be great for groups of friends or work colleagues to catch up over dinner and share delicious food.

I would say Soju Girl is one of my top restaurants in Canberra.

For the full menu please click here.

 

 

Breakfast at 5 Senses Tuggeranong

I love going out for breakfast. There's so many delicious and yummy things to try. And I love coffee. Oh do I love coffee…

In the last year, my partner and I often have a brunch dates. I feel that it's very much a responsible-grown-up-couple date: we don't go out drinking on Friday nights so we are up at 8am on Saturday morning. Plus it's nice to go have a little date together.

We recently decided to go have breakfast somewhere near our home. Often when people think of weekend breakfast in Canberra, they go to Kingston or Manuka. But we wanted to stay close to home so we decided to try something different.

Driving along the main street along the side of Tuggeranong Hyperdome we saw a few different cafés and coffee shops packed with people. We eventually saw a reasonable looking cafe called 5 Senses Gourmet Cafe. It looked like a good place to grab a bite to eat so we decided to done here for breakfast.

The first thing we noticed when looking at the menu was that it didnt have basic bacon and eggs with toast. Ummm… Ok…

This is basically all my partner would order for breakfast – simple, plain, good old fashioned bacon and eggs. He ended up asking the waitress if he could get this and she said that would be fine. I'm guessing that the owners wanted to keep the menu “gourmet” which is probably why this basic meal is omitted from the menu.

I ordered eggs benedict with salmon and gluten free bread. It's my favourite breakfast dish so I tend to always order it!

When it came out I was informed that the hollandaise sauce is not gluten free. I was pretty disappointed with this. The hollandaise sauce is an integral part to this dish. It was nice enough of them to put the sauce in a jug so I could “choose” if I wanted it on there. But it is annoying that they would offer the gluten free option for this dish, if it cannot be fully gluten free. Or the waitress should have told me when I placed my order and asked if I wanted a different gluten free dish.

Well it was a bit too late to change my mind when the food was already cooked and in front of me – I was so hungry so I just ate it anyway. I could have asked for something else but then I would have to sit and watch my partner eat his meal while my meal was re-prepared. Plus I hate being that annoying gluten free person. It's annoying enough for me, there's no need for me to be annoying for everyone else…

So I just started eating it anyway, minus the sauce. That's when I wish I said something. The bread was extremely dry and floury. Gluten free bread isn't the nicest tasting bread, but this was ridiculous. It tasted like I just ate a cup of grainy flour!

This would have been fine if I had slightly runny eggs. In my experience, the poched eggs are made so the yolks are still slightly runny, and they ooze out when you cut into them. This was not the case for my eggs benedict. The eggs were hard and overlooked. So not only did I not have any sauce, I also didn't have my slightly runny eggs.

My partner was not impressed with his meal either. Firstly, they added baby spinach leaves to his bacon and eggs. As a simple man when it comes to food, he doesn't need any of the fancy extras. So he wasn't impressed with this addition.

Also, the bacon had a strange taste to it. This bacon was not your regular Aussie bacon. It was thick and tasted a bit like Spam!

At least my coffee was good. I have bought takeaway coffees from here before, so I knew they could at least do that. And my partners chocolate milkshake tasted nice as well.

But we weren't here for the drinks – we were here for a meal. And we were very disappointed. At the end of our brunch date we concluded that this place was the worst breakfast we had ever eaten at a cafe. And when you're paying $50 for breakfast, you expect good quality. Unfortunately I won't be going back to this cafe (even for coffee, out of principle) because it left a bad (flour) taste in my mouth…