John St Cafe sits in the lovely surrounds of old money Cottesloe and has always been known as somewhere that serves the best breakfast in town; it was cool for breakfast before breakfast was cool. I remember visiting many years ago and thinking how absurd it was that we had to line up to get a table and with my past experience in mind I was steeling myself for another session of waiting on the footpath for a table. Arriving at 9.30am we were surprised that we got a table immediately, albeit inside. Outside was full of lucky punters who had just returned from a jog on the beach or couples with their groomed pooches sitting quietly at their feet. It would have been nice to be able to secure a table outside under the shady Norfolk pines.
Andy and I ordered our coffees straight away and we initially commented that the coffee was pretty good. The flavour had a certain sweetness about it…..until we got further into our cup and it started to become bitter like a cheap G&T. We soon found the reason why – coffee grounds in the bottom of the cup. This would either suggest a too fine of a grind or dirty portafilters. Either way, coffee silt is not pleasant.
I doubt the menu has changed since I visited all those years ago; it is a stock standard breakfast menu, which isn’t a bad thing if what they do, they do it well. Prices peak at $29 for the “John St Breakfast” – eggs, bacon, chipolatas, hash brown, tomato and toast along with an orange juice and coffee. There is a $2 charge for gluten free bread. I haven’t seen a charge for this in a while. Is it necessary? Are we not at a stage with GF bread that it can just be another option like rye or wholemeal? As a whole the menu seemed inconsistent in it’s pricing – a reasonable $15.50 for eggs benedict but then an eye popping $14.50 for fruit salad and organic yogurt. Yep… $14.50 for chopped up fruit… with yogurt. Is it served to me by angels in a gold plated bowl while the two remaining three tenors announce it’s arrival with operatic singing?
“The vegetarian lot” ($20) came as plate piled with eggs homemade beans, hashbrown, mushrooms, tomato and toast. The scrambled eggs were silky and soft yet the homemade beans, which should have been the star of the plate, were forgettable. They lacked seasoning and weren’t cooked long enough for the tomato to release it’s natural sweetness. The beans were crunchy – not in a “cooked firm” kinda way… but in a “we showed these beans a pot of hot water” kinda way. Have you ever smelt something and then been able to taste it? I had this experience with the mushrooms tasting like the smell of chlorine. I have no idea what would have caused this but initially they were really nice and herby, then the after taste hit. Not good. A cakey hash brown was the hero of this breakfast – a crisp shell filled with soft creamy potato mixed with mustard seeds.
Andy’s breakfast bagel ($16.70) was loaded with bacon, avocado, snowpea sprouts and cream cheese. The bagel was fresh and the bacon was nicely cooked. Philly cheese is what it is – we all love it. The snow pea sprouts were plentiful, almost out of balance to the rest of the elements but as a whole this bagel was filling and delicious. I had food envy.
I will give credit to the wait staff – they were all very friendly and efficient.
Maybe I’ve become too fussy and spoilt by much better choice these days but I wasn’t impressed by John St cafe. I am sure the crowds of people who eat there every day would disagree with me but I think this place needs to have a good look at what they are serving rather than just riding on the success of years past.
37 John St, Cottesloe
Breakfast served all day, every day.