Apart from my penchant for good food and fabulous wine, I also love decorating and interior design and get somewhat excited about furniture stores and all manner of homewares and kitchen products. Having just moved into my new home in the city, I’ve been busy planning, perusing shops, websites and magazines looking for fresh ideas and came across a new store from South Africa that had recently opened in Melbourne and also features an onsite café. Dispelling all comparisons to IKEA in nearby Richmond, I eagerly went in search of The Kitchen at Weylandts to have breakfast and to check out their product range.
Despite a two tram trip and a couple of blocks of walking, I arrived at Weylandts right on 10am which was good fortune as the store and café had literally only just opened, so I was able to walk in and find a table that gave me a view of the entire floor space. The design of the café, which is located at the front of the store, is aesthetically beautiful with large windows on each side to maximise the natural light, accented by the pale timber furnishings and a white walled interior.
Within the space of fifteen minutes, people appeared from everywhere and the café was more or less full to capacity. Soon after being seated, the skinny latte I had ordered promptly arrived on it’s own wooden palette and I would have to say that it was undoubtedly the best coffee I have had for a long while. Deliciously creamy and hot, the coffee alone was worth the journey to Abbotsford.
The breakfast menu is contained to only one A5 page and offers things that are traditional fare in South Africa such as Kaiserfleisch bacon and Boerewors sausage. I was sorely tempted by The Kitchen French Toast but decided to try to be a little more adventurous after my efforts to get there that morning. There were also a couple of breakfast specials on the blackboard in front of me that caught my eye, in particular the Roesti topped with poached eggs, chorizo and smokey home-baked beans which would be perfect sustenance for a cold wintery day. After finding the Trout gravlax and Sweetcorn Fritters on the menu, tantalisingly described as ‘cured sea trout and corn fritters stack with soft poached egg, charred corn, cucumber salsa and lime-horseradish crème fraiche dressing’ I knew that I had found what I was looking for. Ironically, just after I had ordered, a serving of the French Toast was delivered to the table next to mine and it looked exquisite. I thought long and hard about changing my order but held on to the courage of my convictions.
Although I kept looking longingly at the French Toast beside me, my own breakfast looked quite impressive when it did arrive with lots of bright yellow corn kernels decoratively adorning the plate. Apart from looking extremely inviting, everything on the plate was absolutely delicious. The key was the abundance of sweet corn which gave lots of moisture and flavour in each mouthful, although my favourite component of the dish was the lime-horseradish crème fraiche dressing. There didn’t seem to be any restraint with the inclusion of horseradish because you could actually taste the flavour for a change, which wasn’t overwhelming and complemented all the individual elements of the dish.
The staff are friendly and affable but don’t seem to be all that “switched on” and appear to be unprepared to cope with the sudden change in demand. The person who was originally looking after me, walked directly past my table three or four times to get to another section towards the back of the café, but didn’t glance in my direction or bother to clear an empty coffee cup or dirty plate on the return trip to the kitchen, which was particularly frustrating when there were no other tables opposite to where I was sitting, both hands were empty and I was desperately trying to get their attention so that I could order another cup of coffee. When paying at the register, the person on the till seemed to be a little flustered but asked if I enjoyed my breakfast, to which I replied favourably. When processing the payment a moment later, he asked again if I enjoyed my breakfast, and then replied to his own question “Oh yeah … I’ve already asked you that, didn’t I?” I guess as the saying goes, just because the lights are on, it doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is at home.