It almost didn't happen, for a couple of reasons. First, we weren't intending to go to Pope Joan for breakfast. We were driving down Nicholson Street on our way to somewhere else when we passed by and saw there was only one table occupied. One table occupied in the hottest cafe to open in the last 12 months. Ok, I exaggerate. There were two tables occupied and that was it.
Second, there were milk crates out the front. Bloody milk crates! I'm not sure when it became acceptable to expect people to sit on milk crates and pay for their meals, but I'm not having any of that designer feral palaver. I used milk crates for furniture when I was a poor student. I'm not paying to eat on them now I'm earning a decent income (and hence I will not go to 'A Minor Place' while milk crates continue to be used for seating).
On closer inspection it was clear that the milk crates were being used for tables, and topped with 'marble', no less. Well, as long as I don't have to subject my delicate derriere to such indignity that's ok then.
Now, enough of the ranting and to the food.
S. had the Corned beef bubble and squeak with celeriac remoulade, toast and fried egg. He said "...inside the beautifully crumbed croquette, the filling was soft, salty and tender. It contained pumpkin, carrot, potato and (he thinks) parsnip. The creamy remoulade tempered the saltiness nicely". The egg and toast were, of course, delicious.
Excited to see a rice dish on the menu, I ordered the kedgeree. I must say I thought it was slightly lacklustre. While the high quality of the ingredients was apparent, it didn't have the spicy 'bang' I was looking for. The rice was generously flecked with salmon and mackerel and topped with creme fraiche, fried onion and mint. Mixed into the dish the mint lifted the dish but not enough to give it the 'wow' factor I was looking for.
'Where's the egg?' I wondered. A kedgeree should have boiled egg. I'm sure it said 'egg' on the menu, but maybe not. Bad note taking. Mea culpa.
The hummingbird cake was a treat to behold. The pale lemon icing provided the perfect backdrop for the light green pistachios and the toasted coconut to dance upon. Moist as a good hummingbird cake should be but not stodgy as they sometimes can be, the fruit flavours were perfectly balanced and not overpowered by a sugary sweetness. One of the best hummingbird cakes we have ever eaten, with this category of cake being a special interest of S.
The soft chocolate tart was superb. It had a mild bitter chocolate taste, was sweet but not cloying and the consistency of a brownie. However, it wasn't heavy or stodgy as brownies can sometimes be, it was light and satisfying with just enough 'goo' in the middle to make it moist and a little bit chewy. It was, and this is a big call, the best chocolate cake/tart I have ever had. Yes indeed. I'll stand by that statement. It was perfect.
Pope Joan we thought you were over-hyped but now we love you. With one blip to report (being the kedgeree) we can't find much else to fault. The service was attentive and friendly, the British-Anglo focussed breakfast menu evoked comforting memories of childhood and the coffee was good. The cakes were a standout. The quality of the ingredients is high and we spied a veggie garden down the back. Ample seating indoor and outdoor is available. Enough has been said about its industrial setting so I will say no more. We will definitely be going back.
Kedgeree - $17
Corned beef bubble & squeak - $17
Coffee - $3.50
Cakes - $4.50 to $5.50
77-79 Nicholson Street
T: 9388 8858