Where: 173 Rankins Rd Kensington
When: Tues-Sun 8am-3pm
Eat-in and take-away
Payment: Cash Only
If you are ever driving through Kensington, down Macaulay Rd and a little corner-store catches your eye, follow your instincts and stop. For too long I’ve driven past Luncheonette, wondering what was behind that cute retro window signage. Finally, I made a date for a weekend breakfast and stopped in. I was glad I’d arrived early as I had some choice among the mere four tables (more outside). It was surreal inside, a miniscule room with original plaster ceilings and brick walls painted gleaming white. As the name suggests, this place had a hero in the fifties diner. Shelves held housewives’ plastic storage containers and mounted on the wall was an original 50’s fan with powder-blue blades. The retro revival stopped with the music which was glitchy and indie, made even more surreal by the clanging train crossing bells across the road. These things did seem at odds with the serenity of the simple, white room and I wondered if it was more peaceful on colder days when they might close the front door.
On the menu, I was pleased to find the only item paying homage to fifties cuisine was the ‘waffle of the day’, which looked alright actually. The hot breakfasts were more or less limited to baked eggs, with the lunch menu offering some sophisticated looking sandwiches. On display by the original vintage cash register were mouth-watering pastries supplied by Dench, just to make choosing even harder.
Willing to indulge myself I ordered the breakfast platter ($15.00) which consisted of toasted muesli, rhubarb compote, pistachios, organic yogurt, orange-blossom honey and raisin toast with butter and preserves. Although my meal arrived sans preserves, I wasn’t too fussed as it scrubbed up quite well. The rhubarb compote was delightfully fragrant with spices and rosewater while managing to stay neither too sweet nor sour. The fruit toast (also Dench) is orange-spiced and dense, served with enough butter to keep the most calorie-guzzling of us completely satisfied. It was a shame that the toasted muesli was a bit bland and left a dusty taste in the mouth, which I didn’t notice until all the rhubarb was gone, which was quickly. The little pinch of pistachios was delicious, although barely a mouthful was there. It just seemed to me that the ratios were a bit out for this dish and had there been more rhubarb, nuts and honey then the muesli wouldn’t have ever seemed a problem.
Dining Partner induced some serious food-envy when his baked eggs with chorizo ($13.50) arrived. I’m usually the first person to whine about the bland abyss which is a dish of baked eggs but this one turned me around. Good quality chorizo is a fabulous start, and in addition to this the eggs were aromatic with cumin (and not too much either), buttery and served with a generous piece of baguette.
The coffee (from Supreme) was made strong and hot but felt as if it had been pushed a little too hard. It was bitter and bitey, which was fine except that it tasted as though it had only been created this way in order to stretch a weaker blend further. The beans were fair-trade, which while I am happy to support just do not carry the body of flavour overall as some of the original brands available. But I guess the bitterness of slave trade beans leaves a much worse taste in ones mouth.
Coffee politics aside, Luncheonette makes for one mean cutie of a café. Good ingredients and pleasant staff make it a much more appealing choice than the hustle and bustle across the road in Kensington’s main drag. I’m coming back for lunch for sure.