I’m having rather a nice re-introduction to work this week after my holidays, at least as far as the non-work parts are concerned (alas, work itself has been pure trained-monkey stuff since Monday). About half my scientists are off at a conference at a Queensland resort island, and the rest of us have been assuaging our feelings of envy with High Tea at the Langham on Tuesday, and a champagne breakfast today.
(Of course, the main topic at today’s champagne breakfast turned out to be whether or not our travellers would actually make it home, since the airline helpfully cancelled their flight 36 hours before departure, and I’ve spent most of the intervening time trying to get them re-booked, despite the best efforts of said airline. We’re still not all that sure that they won’t wind up stranded in Sydney tonight.)
But I digress. We decided to investigate a new cafe in Brunswick, Veri Koko, which is on Sydney Road between Albert and Glenlyon and serves food with a Mediterranean and Greek feel. Actual Greek food is pretty rare on Sydney Road – you can take your pick of literally dozens of Turkish restaurants, and we are certainly not lacking in pizza shops, but I don’t think there are any other Greek places there at all. I cook a lot of what I think of as Generic Mediterranean food, and am rather fond of Turkish food, which uses similar ingredients and flavours – but it’s only when I actually eat at a Greek restaurant or café that I am reminded just how distinct the flavours are. Greek flavours seem to be cleaner and freshers, at least to my palate – more imbued with lemon and oregano, and much less imbued with yoghurt and cumin.
Anyway, I have to start by saying that Veri Koko were very nice to us. When we rang to book and asked about champagne, they were a bit worried because they don’t normally have champagne – but then they rang us back about five minutes later to say that they would go out and *buy* champagne, just for us. And when we finished our breakfast this morning, our waitress came by to ask if we were planning to leave soon, because the chef would like to make us some complimentary sweets, if we could just hang around for another ten minutes or so.
We decided that we could.
As for the breakfast and the menu generally, it was really good and slightly unexpected. Think traditional café brunch things with a Greek twist. The breakfast omelette included olives and bits of loukaniko sausage; the people who ordered pancakes with berries and ice-cream commented that they could taste a floral flavour in the syrup; and my poached eggs on toast came with bacon, loukaniko, tomato grilled with oregano, and really good spinach cooked with olive oil and I think garlic. Looks like an English breakfast – tastes completely different. And very Greek. I noticed a lamb omelette on the dinner menu, which sounds deeply weird to me, but I’d be willing to find out what this lot do with it.
Also, the servings were lavish – by which I mean, I’ve only just had my lunch, partly because work has been very busy, but mostly because I just wasn’t really hungry until about 4pm.
The only slight negative was, ironically, the complimentary dessert, which was loukoumades, a sort of Greek donut with a honey and walnut syrup. It should have been absolutely wonderful, but the chef’s generosity over-reached itself, because some of the larger donuts were not quite cooked in the middle. But really, it was a free dessert, something I would never make myself, and the flavour and crusty bits were lovely.
(They did make me rather miss Nonna’s fritelle with sultanas in them, though. Which I am never going to make, because I refuse to learn how to deep-fry things… One must stop somewhere, and I can cook plenty of rich, decadent, and deeply unhealthy foods without adding deep-frying to my repertoire.)
Anyway, Loukoumades or not, I will definitely be going back there – their food is so interesting! And the staff are lovely.
Because Veri Koko is a very new cafe indeed, one can’t yet get a menu from their (place holder) website, so I can’t really tell you that much about options – my impression was that there wasn’t all that much on the savoury side for vegetarians, though I certainly saw one of the vegetarians in the group having a savoury breakfast, so either there was more than I thought or they are happy to adapt. I also don’t know whether they cater to the gluten-intolerant… in typical Mediterranean style, there is bread with everything, and I don’t know if they stock a gluten-free kind.
Clearly, I shall have to go back and investigate further. Maybe for lunch or dinner. Such sacrifices I make for you, O my readers!
Veri Koko is located at 333 Sydney Rd, Brunswick