Elk and Pea - Sunday Boozy Brekky

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Elk and Pea, a funky cafe on Braddon's Lonsdale street serves hearty food with a Central American influence. Part of the Parlour family (which includes Parlour Wine Bar and Knightsbridge Penthouse) Elk and Pea is a more eclectic dining establishment than its counterparts. With Elk heads along the colourful graffiti-ed wall and stuffed peacocks adorning the interior, this restaurant is visually appealing, especially if you get to sit inside what I call the "Birdcage Table".

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On this occasion, I was invited* by Elk and Pea to sample their Sunday Boozy Brekky, which is available all day (from 8am - 3pm).

When Macgyver Boyfriend and I arrived at 11am, it was still packed with patrons so I was super glad I had booked a table beforehand.

There are two boozy brekkies on offer. I ordered the Smashed Avocado, Mushrooms and a Mimosa ($25*).  As a meatlover, the thought did cross my mind whether I made the right choice in ordering this vegetarian dish. Was it going to fill me up? But when it arrived, all doubts flew out of my head immediately. This was a vegetarian dish of mammoth proportions. However, the size wasn't the only thing that impressed me. The mushrooms had been cooked in thyme-butter and were absolutely delicious. Combined with the smashed avocado, marinated feta, torn basil, and poached egg - it was a delightful vegetarian feast. The mimosa cocktail of orange juice and sparkling wine was the perfect accompaniment.

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The other boozy brekky dish was the Grande and a House Beer ($25*), which Macgyver Boyfriend ordered so we could try one of each dish. If my vegetarian dish was of mammoth proportions, then the Grande was Jurassic-sized: two eggs done your way on sourdough toast with bacon, chorizo, mushrooms, spinach & black beans. This was a generous big breakfast with a Central American twist. Macgyver Boyfriend let me try the chorizo and it was a big mistake. It was so amazingly flavoursome that I kept trying to steal it from him!

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If you're looking for a fun and hearty breakfast or you're recovering from a fun night, the Boozy Brekky at Elk and Pea is definitely for you!

*Macgyver Boyfriend and I dined as guests of Elk and Pea.

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Quick review: Chatterbox Espresso Bar, Belconnen, Canberra

Chatterbox1 Immediately, I was drawn in by the bright and funky interior of Chatterbox Espresso Bar. The splashes of yellow everywhere (yellow chairs, yellow zig zag patterns on the ceiling, yellow coffee machine) tied the trendy elements together into a coherent colour scheme. The living wall (a wall of plants), an interesting chandelier (which I nicknamed the "spider chandelier") and the tiled walls created points of interest within the cafe.

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A quick skim of the menu and I noticed that caramel lattes weren't mentioned (nor other syrups) but I decided to order one anyway. As soon as it came, the aroma of caramel wafted up at me. I couldn't wait to take a sip. I wasn't disappointed. Happily, the coffee didn't burn my mouth either (this is a common enough occurrence at other establishments to warrant this comment).

I was tempted by almost every item on the menu and took a fair amount of time umming and ahhing over what to order for breakfast. Normally, I would go for french toast if it's on the menu. While the brioche french toast ($12.50) at Chatterbox did appeal, I normally prefer mine with bacon. After much debate, a recommendation from friends who had been here before convinced me to order the Potato Stack ($14.50). You could have it with ham, bacon or salmon and I decided on the salmon.

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This is a breakfast that ticks all the boxes. The textures and flavours of the whole meal complemented each other. I particularly loved the combination of the crunch from the two potato patties (thinly grated potato strips made into a patty and deep fried), and the gooey yolk from the poached egg. The smoked salmon added decadence to the dish, as did the creaminess from the cottage cheese. It had everything I could possibly want in a breakfast!

I think I will be looking for every opportunity to come back and try everything else on the menu!

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IPho

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My best food scout was doing his usual patrols and noticed that a Vietnamese restaurant had opened in Garema Place so we had to check it out.

Pork and prawn rice paper rolls: $5

The dish photographed way better than it tasted. Each roll was fairly large but consisted mostly of chopped lettuce and I could not taste any fragrant Vietnamese herbs. About halfway into the roll, I noticed a discoloured piece of lettuce...oh wait, nope. It was a sliver of sliced pork that was stuck onto the lettuce. The pork was sliced so thinly (and only one slice in the roll) that I couldn't even taste the pork. It would have been preferable to have a much smaller roll with better pork/prawn to lettuce ratio.

Rare beef noodle soup: $11.50

First things first, I've had much better pho than this. It's the broth that makes it for me and this one was underwhelming in flavour and overwhelming in the amount of oil layered on top of the soup. For some reason, the soup wasn't particularly hot either. I like my hot soups to be hot, especially when I've made the effort to brave the chilly Canberra weather.

On the bright side, there was a decent amount of beef and I enjoyed the crunch of the freshly sliced onion. I also have to give credit for the variety of sauces available on each table (hoisin, chilli sauce, fish sauce). I did also like that the pho was accompanied by the usual plate of bean sprouts, chilli and very fragrant basil.

This place may still be settling in as it has only been open a week or so but given the central location and the lack of Vietnamese places on offer in the Civic area, there may not be much incentive to lift the quality of the food.

Food Avenue Rating: 5.5/10

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