When a friend suggests going out for a catchup over breakfast I try to put the decision making back on them. “Where do you want to go?” is usually met with a reply of “I don’t mind – you know where’s best”. Or in the case of my friend Belinda, the reply is “I don’t mind, so long as it’s better than site food”. Going out for breakfast with someone who works on a mine site fills me with anxiety. I know what site food can be like and I would hate ME for taking me to a place that served something like it. Disclaimer – I never intend to go anywhere that produces an unfavourable review with any friends!
I indecisively scroll through my list, checking other online reviews and blogs, looking at instagram photos of the food… trying to not pick a dud but wanting somewhere interesting to review. I keep coming back to The Boutique Travel Cafe in Aveley; it was a risk to go to a suburban cafe out in the eastern blocks of Ellenbrook… but it could pay off.
As the name suggests, this cafe is part of a travel agent. I have no idea how the workers concentrate enough to recommend the best place to stay in Bali with the smell of food and coffee wafting around all day, but they seem to manage!
The menu is much more than I had expected with plenty of inventive dishes for the more adventurous sitting along side the traditional favourites. Prices range from $5.50 for toast up to a whopping $25 for the Boutique big breakfast – eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomato, baked beans, hash browns and chipolatas. I saw this dish come out to a table and my heart sunk – tinned beans, hash browns from the freezer… everything I protest against on a breakfast for that price. Was the rent really high in Aveley? And the important question I was asking myself – had I failed to find somewhere serving food better than on a mine site?
Whilst I don’t believe the big breakfast is worth the $25 price tag, most dishes on the menu are around the $15-$17 mark, which I think is reasonable. They have really catered for families here with a kids menu and pencils and pictures for colouring in. What’s not to love about something that keeps the kids occupied so the parents can have another coffee.
Th team here use Swan Valley roaster Fiori. Smooth, creamy and perfect temperature, their coffee was spot on. It was nice to see a local roaster being used here and if you’re into all that stuff, this coffee has “low food miles” considering the roastery is only down the road.
With so much to choose from on the menu I tried to consider everything. Normally I scan down a menu for key words like “feta” but I was stuck trying to choose between the mexican breakfast ($18) – chilli con carne and a fried egg or the corn and coriander fritters ($17). I am picky with things like chilli con carne and spaghetti bolognese – I only like my own or my mums so I went with the fritters. My decision did not disappoint. Three large fritters sat on a bed of fresh spinach meaning the heat wilted popeyes favourite just enough that it still had a bit of crunch. The menu described the bacon as “crispy” and it delivered on this promise. I LOVE LOVE LOVE crispy bacon and I am going to take a guess here, but I think this strip of piggy was cooked under a grill to get that nice bubbled crispy rind. You know how some fritters are more disappointing than seeing the Mona Lisa in real life? Just full of batter and none of the good stuff? Rammed with coriander, corn and spring onion, these crispy fritters were all killer no filler. A few roasted cherry tomatoes dotted around the dish added some tartness, rounding off what was a great bread free and egg free breakfast.
Belinda chose a dish that is a bit of a litmus test for breakfasts – eggs benedict ($16). If a chef can’t make hollandaise then give up serving breakfast in my opinion. How would this suburban cafe fare in the test? For an extra $1, the ham was substituted for some of that crispy bacon I raved about earlier. I say “some” but it was a hefty serve between the fresh spinach and poached eggs. Now the eggs… they looked like they had been poached in pods or rings. Would you turn your nose up at that? The eggs could have done with a tad longer on the simmer as there was still a sheen of clear whites but once the runny yolks were broken and mixed in with the sauce this was soon forgotten. Hollandaise, the pièce de résistance, was bright, glossy and thick. The creamy buttery flavour was slightly cut with vinegar – perfect. The overall verdict? Well judging by the clean plate Belinda left I’d say it passed with flying colours.
It’s easy to see why this suburban cafe is popular with the locals. There was a line through the cafe to order coffees and the tables were filled early. Steer clear of the big breakfast, unless you think it’s worth the cash, but with a myriad of other well priced interesting dishes on offer there’s no need to consider it.
I don’t mind a bit of a gamble every now and then and I’m glad this one paid off. If you’re a local or even just fancy a drive out through the swan valley, the Boutique Travel Cafe is a sure bet.Shop 9a, 31 Egerton Drive, Aveley
Breakfast served 7am – 11.30am Mon – Fri & 8am – 11.30am Weekends
Originally published on WA Today – Friday 30th January 2015