Ecabar, Darlinghurst

‘Twas an excited party of diners (DFs) last Saturday morn, awake with long-weekend-excitements since it broke dawn. To the snow we were headed for adventures a-plenty, and it was….going to be epic. (What even rhymes with a-plenty?)

Anyway. Facing a five hour drive, we had to divert the hunger that had been a-brewing by mid-morning. Our party of six did this by heading on over to Ecabar in Darlinghurst.

We started off with a couple of chai lattes, a flat white, a latte and an orange juice. The juice conversation had gone something like this:

One of the DFs: “could I please see the juice menu?”
The waiter: “Sure, it’s orange, carrot, apple, pineapple…etc, etc, etc”
One of the DFs: “uhh, so…early…to…be…making…decisions…orange”

My chai – if you remember from my Tripod Cafe review, I admitted my snobbish ways with the great drink of chai. I’m going to have to say that I didn’t love this one. It was very…white. It sort of tasted like warm milk with a jar of cinnamon waved in the general vicinity with a decent stack of sugar lumped in afterwards. No complaints from the coffee drinkers though.

I can confirm the presence of cinnamon

Next up, I painfully made everyone wait to dig in while I photographed their brunches. We had perused the menu for a decent while and I noticed that a number of the more interesting dishes on their website were not on the menu. We settled on an eggs benedict with smoked ham ($15.50),

Eggs benny

a ham, cheese, tomato and dijon mustard toastie ($8.50),

So arty with the shadows and the triangles and stuff

a….toast with vegemite (lame! $5) and three dukkah spiced eggs ($15)

Dukkah spiced eggs

The toast was as you’d expect it. Toast. Two pieces of it. With a smack of vegemite and butter.

The dukkah spiced eggs…Ecabar seemed to take the same approach to this one as they did with their chai: not actually flavouring the main ingredient with spices, but rather, waving spices over the main ingredient’s general vicinity. Here, I guess I was expecting some form of eggs baked in a terracotta pot with deep, spicy, flavourful dukkah throughout a rich tomato-y sauce as opposed to two largely vinegary poached eggs with a sprinkle of the spice dumped on top (oh, and an artsy line across another part of the plate). I was also expecting a little more effort from the avocado/hummus mix underneath the eggs rather than literally avocado smashed up and mixed with hummus. It was as described, I guess, but at the same time, I was probably expecting more than a little bit of toast, a smoosh of avocado and two vinegary eggs for 15 bucks.

No complaints from the other parties (how wrong can you really go with toast?), though the eggs benedict looked like it had been sitting around for a good 5 minutes and had developed that custardy skin on the top.

Ecabar…I probably won’t be back. We want our brunches full of excitement – deep flavours, warming undertones, surprising freshness. Or at least comfort. Big, warming bowls of comfort. Not flat, boring, small, un-innovative serves of blandness. Sorry, Ecabar…

Ecabar Cafe and Wine Bar
2/128 Darlinghurst Road
Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Ecabar Cafe and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Tripod Cafe, Redfern

Redfern. There you are, shrouded in mystery, in dodgy reputation. Someone once told me even the cops wouldn’t go into Redfern. Given this was only a couple of years ago, they were probably pulling my leg. But the point still stands. When the shit went down, Redfern is probably not where you wanted to be.

But now. The yuppies. They have flocked in their packs. They have bought their renovated terraces, they have knocked down state housing. “But where will we eat?” the yuppies one day questioned, concerned, “We certainly can’t walk to Crown Street in 0ur suede boots and camel-coloured chinos, and we certainly can’t start our day without a triple shot, half foam, skim soy, extra chocolate sprinkles, chai-infused, decaffinated monstrosity!”.

Fear not, young yuppies. For I shall tell you a tale of a street. And on this street, once lined with workers cottages and a sole pizza shop, the baristas have been busy. This street is Abercrombie Street.

One fine and dreary morning, DF and I strode hastily along Abercrombie street in search of a hearty brunch on a cold, rainy day. After undecidedly wandering back and forth between a few cafes (“this one looks cozy”, “but the sum total of chairs at this one is 3”, “this one has too many trendy people”), we plonked ourselves down at a table inside at Tripod Cafe.

A quick perusal of the menu later, we ordered at the counter, a bacon and egg roll ($7), a baked beans, chorizo and sourdough ($12) and a pot of chai ($4.50). I spotted some quality-looking quiches in the cabinet at the front, as well as some drool-worthy muffins that had just come out of the oven, still in their muffin-tray housing. DF2 (from Saturday Sushi Night) tells me they also do an awesome $12 pasta special at lunch time)

Not too long had passed and my pot of chai came out. I’ll admit to being the biggest chai snob I know, always in search of the next perfect blend. Allow me to rant: too many punters out there serve this sickly, sweet, syrupy excuse for chai. So sweet is this chai that my teeth actually begin to ache. This is not chai. Chai is cinnamony and gingery, anise-y and cardamom-y. It is heavenly and lightly sweetened by honey, if you so wish. And this was the cup I got.  This chai was fantastic – I think the hunt may be over.  Served brewed with milk, in a teapot with a cute little pot of honey on the side, this was the perfect start to a cold winter’s day. They also sell bags of the tea for $10 but given the 4 bags I already have to get through at home, I thought this was probably a little excessive.

It was truly chai-licious

With tantilising smells of frying bacon becoming ever-surrounding, we looked on with glee as our waiter brought out brunch. DF’s bacon and egg roll probably could have done with a little more (read: any) presentation. But it was what it was – a bacon and egg roll. Plenty of bacon, a runny egg and a smear of tomato relish.  It wasn’t mind blowing but for 7 bucks it was decently hearty.

Bacon & egg roll

My  beans and chorizo came in a cute terracotta pot, served on a chopping board (they’re everywhere!) with two toasted, buttered slabs of sourdough. The chorizo had a nice little kick and the whole lot was wading in a pool of warm tomato-y puree. I did get this overwhelming sense that the chef had just chucked a can of four bean mix into some tinned tomatoes, and it would have been nice to have that slight crunchy/chewy texture of chorizo that had initially been fried for a while before being added to the mix…. but aside from that it was warm, tasty and satisfying.

Beans and chorizo with sourdough

DF and I were at the happy stage where we had eaten an appropriate amount. We were neither bursting nor famished – a happy middle ground. And then. Those chefs, those taunting chefs brought out a new tray of muffins. Out of a choice of mixed berry and banana brazil nut, we went with the former ($3.50, though because at some point we had had a coffee (…or a chai) I was only charged a bargain $2). The waiter must have been flustered, as a few customers came in and out immediately after my order, he clean forgot about it. Immediately flustered as soon as I walked up to the counter, the penny dropped and we ended up getting the muffin to go. All good, we weren’t in a rush. As we walked home in the rain, munching on this warm, crunchy, fresh muffin top (Seinfeld fans, the best part of a muffin, am I right?) and the rest of the muffin stuffed full of berries I thought to myself…ain’t life grand.

Delicious, fresh mixed berry muffin

Cafe Tripod
262 Abercrombie Street, Darlington

Tripod Cafe on Urbanspoon