Black garlic bread at Gauge in Brisbane. Photo: Glenn Hunt
Welcome to Good Weekend’s inaugural 52 Best Brunches, designed with one thing in mind – to turn a good weekend into a great one. Here are the pick of the brunch bunch beyond Melbourne and Sydney.
- Five of the best in regional NSW
- Five of the best in regional Victoria
Go-to dish: Black garlic bread.
Where: South Brisbane.
Why: Dramatic in appearance, fun to eat (tearing and dipping is encouraged) and surprisingly good alongside a coffee, black garlic bread ($14) is served with brown butter and a sprinkle of burnt vanilla powder. It’s emblematic of the restaurant’s love of wrangling simple ingredients in interesting ways – fermenting, caramelising, blitzing – to create interest and excitement.
The experience: It’s usually thought of as a lunch or dinner restaurant but Gauge’s weekend brunches are a great way to experience the kitchen’s creative approach to Australian product and their crisp, open-hearted hospitality. The sleek, timbered premises is across the road from GOMA – consider fortifying yourself here before an art attack. And if you happen to miss brunch, the black garlic bread is on the lunch and dinner menus too. DV
77 Grey Street, South Brisbane, 07 3638 0431, gaugebrisbane.com.au
Pasta for breakfast at Brisbane’s Morning After. Photo: Krista Eppelstun
Go-to dish: Pappardelle carbonara.
Why: Italians may not recognise the pappardelle carbonara ($19.50) at this popular West End brunch spot, with its smoked pancetta, 63-degree egg, field mushrooms and manchego cheese, but it sure makes a change from avo-on-toast.
The experience: “Enjoy the night before. Indulge the morning after.” That’s the philosophy of mother-and-son team, Soula and Yianni Passaris, who offer up a menu with way too many choices for those genuinely needing a hangover cure.
The list of options trots the globe from Bangkok wagyu beef mince with fried eggs and sumac, to tempura prawns, cornichon salad, fried egg, enoki, edamame, fried garlic and ponzu. You’ll be needing the (Five Senses) coffee, a cold-pressed juice or an expertly made Negroni – although isn’t that what got you into this mess in the first place? JD
corner Vulture and Cambridge streets, Brisbane, 07 3844 0500, morningafter.com.au
Go-to dish: Rabbit Bowl.
Why: There’s no rabbit in the rabbit bowl ($20); just a cool, refreshing collection of tuna sashimi, rice, cucumber, pickled cabbage, miso, edamame, charred corn puree and nori that’s perfect for nibbling at over a long, lazy brunch.
The experience: With its grassy lawn, fruit trees, and very own pond, the real Peter Rabbit would have loved this rabbit-themed shipping-container cafe (complete with a real live pet rabbit, who is extremely well-fed). The weekend menu (9am to 4pm) also offers Spanish beans with chorizo and poached eggs, charred cauliflower with beetroot hummus and ancient grains, and babaganouj with poached barramundi.
Seasonal and ethically sourced ingredients, a wood-fired kitchen, locally roasted coffee, craft brews and juice-based cocktails all add to the feel-good factor. JD
244 Hindley Street, Adelaide, peterabbit.com.au
Sweetcorn fritters at Kangaroo Island’s Cactus cafe. Photo: Supplied
Go-to dish: Sweetcorn fritters with tomato, avocado salsa, bacon, sour cream, jalapeno and herbs.
Where: Kangaroo Island.
Why: In a ship-shape stone cottage with a smart blue-and-white trim that makes it look as if it’s about to set sail down the street, locals and tourists alike gather for golden sweetcorn fritters ($16) with a Mexican attitude, eggy breakfasts, and lunches of purely local ingredients in this super-casual cafe.
The experience: Yen Aun Leow and chef Louis Lark opened Cactus in 2017, having worked together at Kangaroo Island’s high-end Southern Ocean Lodge. It’s an easy breezy cafe with a brekky menu of local island produce, that runs from buttermilk pancakes with fruit and maple syrup to a big brekky that is everything it promises to be (big). The lunch menu kicks in at 12.30pm with a very welcome BLT of sourdough, bacon, cos, tomato and roasted garlic aioli. JD
59 Dauncey Street, Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, 0473 311 049
Go-to dish: Toasted moosli with strawberry and rhubarb panna cotta.
Where: Little Oink, Canberra
Why: Because owner Natalie Legg says its all about breaking down the barriers separating dessert and breakfast. Her house-toasted ‘moosli’ ($17) with strawberry and rhubarb panna cotta, caramel sauce,rhubarb puree and fresh berries should do it.
The experience: Kids, dogs, oldies; all are welcome inside the cosy, kitschy, colourful cafe, or outside on wooden tables, with one’s furry friends. Home of the crumbed bacon schnitzel and the beetroot latte, this casual, unpretentious streetside cafe has a big following for its all-day weekend breakfasts, from slow-roasted pork belly with hash browns, to cauliflower fritters with corn salsa, chipotle mayo and poached egg. Coffee is from the excellent Two Before Ten, another great brunch spot in town. JD
22 Cook Place, Cook, Canberra, 02 9651 2688, no website
THE CUPPING ROOM
Go-to dish: Bacon and egg roll.
Why: For some, the coffee is the deal-breaker. For others, it’s the egg-and-bacon roll ($15) that is non-negotiable. Welcome to The Cupping Room, created by Canberra’s award-winning specialty coffee roasters, Ona Coffee, Where the coffee is benchmark quality and the E & B roll stuffed with guacamole, bacon, fried egg and bbq sauce has to be eaten with two hands.
The experience: This place is never empty, especially on weekends, when the menu runs from 8am to 4pm, and all of Canberra is tossing up whether to have the beetroot-cured salmon with kataifi scotch egg; the smashed avocado with poached eggs, labne and Hungarian dukkah; or the beef burger with the works. Next decision: to sit inside or out. And the next – the Black Betty house roast caffe latte, an oreo and peanut butter shake, or a tinny of beer? JD
1/1-13 University Avenue, Canberra, thecuppingroom.com.au
Go-to dish: Raw beef on toast, chopped eggs, avocado, onion cream and shichimi.
Why: Raw beef ($18) for breakfast? Why not, when it comes with avocado and chopped egg, underscored with a sweet, smooth onion cream and speckled with Japanese shichimi togarashi for a touch of spiciness.
The experience: Housed in a bright, tall-ceilinged, airy corner of the 140 year-old State Buildings – together with Petition Beer Corner and Petition Wine Merchants – Petition Kitchen pulls a lively crowd for breakfast and a Sunday brunch that runs from 8am to 3pm. British-born chef Sean Bentley and his crew can do wondrous things with eggs – try the baked slow eggs with ham hock, beans and kransky sausage; the buttifara (Spanish sausage) with hash browns; a please-the-people bacon and egg roll, or torched salmon with avocado and pea salad with smoked egg gribiche. JD
State Buildings, corner Georges Terrace and Barrack Street, 08 6168 7771, petitionperth.com
Go-to dish: Hummingbird cake.
Where: Maylands, Perth.
Why: Sure, it’s #cakeforbreakfast but you can tell yourself it’s more or less a fruit salad, with all that pineapple and banana, plus cinnamon for spice and walnuts for crunch. If the popular hummingbird ($7) has flown, the carrot cake and lemon curd cupcakes are more than decent silver and bronze options.
The experience: Neighbourhood favourite Mrs S manages to be both hip and grandmotherly with its floral accents, country kitchen communal table, bum-friendly cushioned banquettes and petal-strewn baked goods. The smashed avocado with green harissa and pine nuts is a signature but it’s hard to go past the laden display of layer cakes, brownies, cupcakes and slices, especially as you need to head to the counter to order. Coffee is good but the leaf tea – served in sweet pots for one – feels apropos. DV
178 Whatley Crescent, Maylands, 08 9271 6690, mrsscafe.com.au
Laneway’s take on smashed avocado. Photo: Supplied
LANEWAY SPECIALTY COFFEE
Go-to-dish: Smashed avocado on sourdough.
Why: You can pretend you’re here for the shaved ham toastie, eggs benny or healthy bowl of chicken and brown rice salad. But Why fight it? You’re really here for the signature smashed avo on sourdough ($17), complete with confit tomatoes, feta, red elk leaves, dill, parsley, nuts and Middle Eastern spices.
The experience: On a Saturday when Parap’s famously foodie market is in full swing. this place is a madhouse in a good way. Relentless cheerful staff ferry all-day brekkies (’til 4pm Saturday and 2pm Sunday) and seriously good coffee from Sydney’s Campos coffee roasters to jam-packed tables of die-hard regulars. Juices, pickles and house-made sodas use ‘imperfect’ fruit and veg, left-overs go to one customer’s happy pigs, and the billy-lids’ menu is chip-free and fabulous (Avo and vegemite on toast! Fruit bowl!) JD
4/1 Vickers Street, Parap, Darwin, 08 8941 4511, lanewaycoffee.com.au
Go-to dish: Roasted field mushrooms on Turkish bread with rocket pesto and feta.
Where: Alice Springs
Why: This laid-back cafe has long brought Melbourne-style laneway cafe culture to Alice Springs, with its blackboard menu of generous brunchy/lunchy dishes such as this hearty combo of field mushrooms heaped upon Turkish bread ($13.90) and ramped up with rocket pesto and feta.
The experience: Expect funky music, Fifties kitchen tables and chairs, a lively all-day breakfast from 7.30am to 2pm on weekends, turmeric lattes, and great espresso coffee, courtesy of Sydney’s Little Marionette roasters. There’s more, of course, from smashed avocado with yoghurt, mint and tomato salsa on rye toast, to that all-time brunch fave, eggs benny with smoked salmon. JD
89 Todd Mall, Alice Springs, 0429 003 874
Bubble and squeak with baked eggs and mushroom ragu. Photo: Supplied
Go-to dish: Bubble and squeak.
Where: West Hobart.
Why: Leftovers were the original inspiration for bubble and squeak; here ($22.50) it’s veg odds and ends, maybe parsnip and broccoli or beetroot, always potato and herbs, always delicious, tray-baked and served with baked eggs, creamy mushroom ragu and a “gentlewoman’s relish” that’s heavy on the anchovy, butter and lemon.
The experience: The cafe showcases produce from owners Richard and Belinda Weston’s farm in southern Tasmania. That guy walking in with an box of capsicum or quince? That’s very probably Richard with the morning’s pickings. The cafe is also stocked with preserves made from farm produce – don’t leave without a jar of smoked paprika! Connection to local produce is a Tasmanian truism; Pigeon Hole lives it in authentic fashion. The cafe’s waste is also taken back to the farm for compost and pig feed. DV
93 Goulburn Street, West Hobart, 03 6236 9306, pigeonholecafe.com.au
Baked goods at Small Fry in Hobart. Photo: Nick Osborne
Go-to dish: Black pudding, fried egg, new potatoes, cornichons, shallots and laundry vinegar.
Why: This is restaurant quality cooking in a tiny cafe that’s high on detail. The blood pudding ($18) is sweet and nutty, the egg fried before your eyes, and the optional bacon ($4) is a goodly slab of real piggy goodness.
The experience: The aptly named Small-fry (open from 8.30am to 1pm on weekends) is tiny, with just 12 stools surrounding an open kitchen – like, very open. It’s performance art, but it’s also a window into the world of a chef cooking under pressure, as chef/owner Rhys Hannan spins, turns, spreads, toasts, whisks, fries and assembles a number of very delicious high-flavour dishes at once. The quality coffee is Ritual from Launceston, the tea is Mayde from Byron Bay and the craft beers from Spotty Dog. A little gem. JD
3/129 Bathurst Street, Hobart, 03 3621 1338