|this was taken after the late breakfast
rush had ended…
The place had an excellent atmosphere; I felt so good just by being in there. Most of the furniture looked as though it was made of recycled wood, and the tables were decorated with pink orchids in a glass bottle, and a small dish with a pile of rustic raw sugar cubes.
The first thing to order, without even looking at the menu, was some coffees. We got our usual coffees, mine being a strong soy latte. It was a bit of a wait, but forgivable since they were so busy.
I plopped a cube of sugar into the cup and began to stir the froth, which was smooth and silky. Once the sugar dissolved and I took my first sip, which resulted in a gulp, then seven, and the cup was empty.
Not only do they know how to make a strong coffee, but they know how to froth soy milk so that it’s silky smooth, and present a delicious latte with charm. The only criticism is the lack of coffee art, but everything else made up for it.
The menu was printed on thick, recycled paper and had an excellent selection of hot sandwiches, croissants and rolls filled with cheesy, hammy goodness, or toasted sourdough with avocado and even a breakfast salad. The prices were quite impressive. Dave got an egg and bacon batty while I settled on their signature breakfast – the Croque Madam filled with béchamel and ham and a fried egg.
My heart skipped when I saw the waitress approach with our breakfast. They were served on gorgeous wooden boards with terracotta coloured dishes for the sides. My Croque-Madame looked spectacular with a fried egg draped over the top. It has a small side of rocket to provide some greenery.
I started off with a corner of the croquet – crisp and buttery, but I could tell it had been pre-made and just grilled to order because there was a slight staleness. This faded as I worked my way into the centre of the toasted sandwich. Once I pierced the drippy yolk of the fried egg, the golden goo provided each bite with the perfect amount of lubrication. The melted cheese on the top also stepped in with another dimension of savoury goodness.
The closer I got to the middle, the more béchamel sauce appeared, adding its own sultry tones of silky moisture and delicate buttery savours. I had never eaten a sandwich with béchamel in it before, and it seems the French really know how to eat for pleasure. I eventually found myself eating around the centre, knowing that my last bite was going to be amazing… and it was.
Dave’s batty looked like a breakfast burger with bacon, egg and rocket, with a dishlette of tomato relish and a side of mushrooms.
We exchanged bites and the first thing I noticed about his butty was the sweet tang of tomato relish. I have officially made a new rule to never use the tomato relish that comes with dishes, as the usual consequence is an overpowering sweetness that ruins the other flavours – even BACON! I also sampled a mushroom, which was soft and juicy with subtle flavours that only complemented the flavour of the mushroom.
I really liked this café… a lot. The staff were super friendly, knowledgeable about their fare, they made a near-perfect coffee and even supplied a business card for the artist that created the masterpiece on their entry wall. If we ever brave the streets of busy Richmond again, I would happily have my first, second or third breakfast at the Old Barber Shop Café.