Invited out to Northcote once again for brunch. The Espresso Room is nestled in the middle of brunch central so the bar was set quite high as were my expectations. Read on to see how it faired compared to the rest!
First up, it is such a huge space with a lot of character to it. I appreciated that it wasn’t your average modern eatery, airing on the side of homeliness and comfort with a lot of knick knacks around the place. It brought a family feel to it and with a great outdoors area I wouldn’t hesitate to bring a family and a dog down here to hang out on a beautiful day. With all this came a local friendliness to regulars which was great but didn’t extend to visitors like myself, which was unfortunate after such a great impression on entering.
I have to call this out at first. We waited over 40 mins for food from ordering to arrival at the table. Unimpressive considering the 1.30pm arrival which is well past peak brunch and the place wasn’t busy at all.
On to food, the Eggs on Hash (Crispy hash browns, topped with melted tasty cheese, smoked salmon, fresh spinach, fresh tomato, two poached eggs, finished with Hollandaise) had an overall great flavour with touches of freshness and temperature variation amongst the elements which kept things interesting. The substitution of a hash brown instead of toast was a good touch and added even more flavour to the dish. It was good not to bother with bread crusts and soggy bread this time around. The cheese was a highlight for me as a cheese lover, it added an extra saltiness to the dish that elevated the flavours surrounding it. You have a choice of pesto, dukkah and hollandaise for your sauce but I’m so glad I picked the hollandaise as it brought everything together really well. Some issues with the dish were that the tomato did seem a bit out of place, and the finer touches were missed with salad leaves being thrown on the dish with no dressing. A good basic dish but needing some refinement.
Next, the French Toast Special. I was not a fan of this dish as it was so dry and kind of eggy. It really needed a drenching of maple syrup rather than just a drizzle to revive it. The most redeeming factors of the dish would be the mascarpone which had a nice liquorice taste to it that wasn’t too overwhelming and added some moisture to the dish. I’ve never personally been a fan of bacon on dessert either but if you are then this had plenty of it so definitely give it a shot, though the bacon was soft rather than crispy.
Buttermilk Pancakes (House pancakes drenched in maple glaze, raspberry infused mascarpone, fresh berries, and cocoa crunch crust) were pretty much exactly like the french toast special. The same mascarpone, the same amount of maple syrup and the same berries. The pancakes themselves were fluffy but also really dry much like the french toast. It reminded me more so of a cake than anything else. There really needed to be some sort of sauce to this to pack in flavour but also add some moisture to it.
Oreo Freakshake wasn’t all that freaky but was incredibly delicious with more so a Nutella base with Oreos on top. Didn’t deliver as ordered on the menu but definitely a highlight and I would order it again.
A fairly average brunch that overall was ok but not really a destination brunch. I would say it would be great if you are hungry and in the area for a quick bite as the portions are huge and best suited suited for groups.
Presentation (5): 4
Taste (5): 3
Service (5): 2
Atmosphere (5): 4