Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Elk & Pea, Braddon

The transformation of Lonsdale Street from just a strip of car yards into a hipster hangout has been quite interesting. With the opening of the second Roasters and all the vintage boutiques within the trendsetter that is Lonsdale Street Traders, the area has so much new life injected to it. The Elk & Pea opened it's doors in early December, just in time for the silly season festivities.

Ish and I were here for brunch the Sunday before Christmas so this post is a little overdue; but what with all the Christmas and new year happenings I think I have a very good excuse! 

From the outside this place has a bit of a shabby chic look about it with the four communal tables covered in plastic doily table clothes and wooden stools painted white and green, reminiscent of a school room. The interior fit out has a vastly different feel and it is pretty impressive. 

This is what you'll see; a long wooden bar, rough concrete floors, mix of industrial high chairs and upholstered armchairs, unique chandeliers, wooden birdcages, vases full of peacock feathers and of course elk heads adorning the walls and several peacocks perched on chandeliers and banisters looking down at the mere mortals tucking into their food. 

The most amusing design feature is the (bad) artwork hung on the ceiling; why wouldn't you want to look up and see female body parts staring down at you while you tuck into your Sunday breakfast? What will interior designers come up with next?! The overall look and feel is a little industrial and a little quirky; definitely suits the area.

The service was a bit peculiar; we were promptly informed that the kitchen was closed for the next half an hour, which was a bit odd when it was 11am on a Sunday and they seemed to have a restaurant full of people. Nowhere on their Facebook page or the poor excuse of a website does it mention the odd hours the kitchen keeps but for the sake of research we were willing to order a coffee and wait it out.

My flat white was a little on the watery and lukewarm side which is not the coffee's fault, rather the one making it (sorry Mr Barista, I will not speak ill of the quality of Ona coffee, which as we all know is brilliant).

It really irks me when restaurants think it's optional to disclose their menu on their website! What's the point of having a website, I ask?! Anyway, here's the breakfast menu; some stock standard items and some interesting looking items. Once our time out of half an hour had elapsed we literally had to chase down one of the rather stressed out wait staff to put our order in; nothing overly welcoming about the service here I have to say.

Ish ordered the zucchini and corn fritters with mango chutney and poached egg. The fritters were nicely spiced and quite flavoursome. The mango chutney would've been a refreshing accompaniment had the mango not been so ripe and sweet, which didn't quite work with the spicy fritters. 

I ordered paprika spiced poached eggs with paprika butter, chorizo, whipped yoghurt and flaked almonds on sourdough. This was delicious to start with but few bites later I was overwhelmed by how rich and oily the whole thing was. Look at the amount of melted paprika butter in there to start with and it only kept on getting oilier and messier as the butter kept melting! The sourness of the fluffy whipped yoghurt worked really well with the smokiness of the chorizo but all that butter and oil overpowered the whole dish and I didn't enjoy it (I have a feeling they got this dish very wrong on the day, have a look here to see the same dish ordered by someone else on another day; looks much more appetising without all that oil plus I obviously got gypped since I only got one very thin slice of sourdough- hmpf!).

And to top it off, the heat and humidity inside the restaurant was unbearable. The air conditioning was either not working or doesn't exist and we both felt like we were dining kerbside in a tropical country!

So the verdict: I'm sorry to say that I wasn't all that impressed. There are some interesting items on the menu and the fit out is impressive but that's where it stops. If you are going to open up a new venue sandwiched between the two Roasters with their cult like following, you have to deliver at more than just face value. The coffee was ok, the food was 50-50 and the service was rather lacking; I would rather spend my money where I know I'm guaranteed to get it's full worth. But having said that, maybe the food and the vibe is different in the evening... I will report back on this in the near future.

Updated 04/05/13

So it's been a long time between visits and I decided to give The Elk & Pea another go last weekend. I'm so glad I did because I discovered the most delicious breakfast dish, which I would be more than happy to go and inhale every weekend!

So here's the winning dish of smashed avocado with thyme butter 'shrooms, marianted fetta, basil and poached egg on gluten-free toast. One word: amazing! This dish had all my favourite breakfast food items in it and each element was just perfect. The avo wasn't too ripe and mushy, the mushrooms were buttery and flavoursome, the fetta (although on the very salty side) was beautifully creamy and the egg was poached perfectly.

Despite my warnings, my breakfast date decided to order the paprika spiced poached eggs because well, let's admit it, they do sound amazing on the menu. But sadly, her experience was similar to mine when I had this dish last time; it was way too oily and rich and the pool of oil at the bottom of the bowl was very off putting and not enjoyable. Shame, because I really wanted to be proved wrong about this dish. 

However, coffee on this day was just perfect, yipee! And the wait staff's service had vastly improved compared to my last visit 3 months ago. Double yipee! BUT the maĆ®tre d' really could do with a happy pill as I caught her rolling her eyes at one too many customers behind their backs! I say it as I see it and this was definitely not cool! 

So the verdict second time around is much more positive so I will return for the smashed avo and the coffee any time! 

The Elk & Pea on Urbanspoon 


  1. I went there last week and I am kind of in the same boat as you - I would describe my experience as fine and fine is not how I want to describe dining - food is my thing. My meal was nice but nothing special and the service was atrocious. I wont be heading back anytime soon - its cool to be hip and happening but you need to deliver as well.

    1. Really? Was this when we went together? I'll be posting a review soon, and I suppose my take on it was a little different :)

    2. Haha I mean maybe this is a little harsh - I think the service will improve I just found it a little annoying having to keep asking for water and having to kind of get their attention to order and so forth. My meal was nice but nothing amazing. I am going there for dinner on Wednesday haha so hopefully second time around its a little better.

    3. Conflicting opinions! :) This shows that they obviously need to work harder on maintaining consistency in the quality of their service and food. Look forward to reading your review Vanisha and also to hear about your thoughts on dinner Megan! xx