With the impending Bacon Festival (yes, that’s right, in case you haven’t heard) kicking off at Newtown’s Cuckoo Callay on 9 February, I decided to drop in over several visits to sample a few bits from the regular menu before it gets temporarily modified with all things porcine.
All the exposure these guys have – be it from hundreds of people walking to and from the train station, word of mouth or the constant trickle of write-ups has created a perpetually busy cafe that seems to stand out from many of the others.
And they don’t even have a cronut hybrid on the menu.
Coffee-wise, it’s pretty decent, be it hot and milky espresso-based or chilled and temple-numbing cold drip.
My favourite plate of food has to go to the mother ducker (22). An earthy ensemble of lentils, sautéed spuds and shreds of tenderly warm duck topped with the most perfect poached egg. Pity the shaved asparagus was a no-show and the chilli jam was more akin to a chutney with no bite whatsoever. Negatives aside, this is one bowl of goodness I’d tuck into anytime, despite not getting everything the menu declared.
It’s all about cumin-spiced lamb in the beeting the sheep (19) – rolled in thin pastry and fried until golden and crisp. Some grated beetroot (I think it’s meant to be pickled) and goat cheese provide the condiment-factor, with a little extra crunch from shaved radish and snow pea tendrils.
With many innovative breakfast options, it can be a little tricky choosing without the risk of food envy when you spot something else go to another table.
Cured salmon is always a winner in my books, so I chose it with the #hashtag browns 2.0 (18). Bacon steak or grilled haloumi are the other add-ons. The salmon is absolute perfection and I’m chuffed with the generous quantity of it.
The let-downs? A poached egg that had way too much simmer-time, rendering it to a hard boiled egg. And a pity the bubble and squeak hash brown patty it came with was pasty and lacked any form of noticeable seasoning.
A touch of Americana is evident in the berets, stars & stripes (15) – a rather sexy collection of ingredients that get the tastebuds dancing. Brioche French toast weighed down with maple bacon, whipped ricotta and smear of peanut caramel. A light sprinkling of cornflakes sealed the sugary deal. This one’s a winner.
So too is the chorizo that comes with the speedy gonzalez (18) – strong porky and paprika flavours that, with the fried eggs and beans, make for two rockin’ breakfast burritos. And the lemon-marinated avocado zings up the palate in the process.
On a separate visit, the YOLO granola (14) puts a nice spin on breakfast. The yoghurt & honey panna cotta not only has perfect wobble, but its delicate sweet vanilla flavour melds nicely with the crunchy granola and berries.
There’s a bit of a wow moment when the pig in a box (22) lands on the table. A 63° egg spills its golden innards down the sides of a bacon ‘box’ that’s filled with pork and camembert. Sweet roasted truss tomatoes and a flavoursome chutney add to the breakfast pleasure.