Cafe Eighty Ate, Crows Nest (2 November 2014)

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Cafe Eighty Ate is a medium-sized, semi-outdoor local cafe that sits on West Street. I need to confess having 'Ate' in the name is a real draw-card for me. I also run/ride past this place on the way to work most mornings.

Cafe Eighty Ate - bustling trade along West Street

Judging a brunch venue comes down to taste, value and size; all three are intrinsically correlated. A dish is only good value if it tastes good and I go home satisfied...My caveat? I eat healthy, am frugal and have a big appetite.

The stock menu is completely uninspiring and revolves around eggs and other staples (french toast, bacon, pancakes). Pricing is mid-range and an omelette costs $12.90.

Luckily there is a few'weekend specials; six to choose and pricer at $15-19. My eyes instantly fix on "shakshuka with poached eggs" which I know to be a very safe bet. Tragically Lorie thinks the same way and I am left with a menu staple, avocado and salsa on toast plus 2 poached eggs.

Shakshuka with poached eggs - $19

The shakshuka takes dish of the day by a mile. Highly aromatic, rich tomato base that has a mild chilli kick and reasonably balanced seasoning. It's got that chukiness that good baked dishes have, not too watery. The side of dukkah gives a rough, 'earthy' flavour and the cumin really comes through.

Avocado and salsa ($10.50) with two poached eggs ($3.60)

My avocado on toast is satisfying enough, reasonably presented but essentially what you'd expect from a half decent kitchen. Frankly I spent most of my time staring Lorie down, desperately hoping she would tap out early and leave me some.

OK two great things about a wife that is 4 foot 10 inch and weighs under 40kg. Benefit one - I look like basketballer Yao Ming in photos. Benefit two - I always get her leftovers. I grabbed the remaining soughdough and rye bread and polished off the shakshuka. Guilt free and happy!

Self-proclaimed Yao Ming of brunches
As you'll see in my summary below, my only gripe was food taking 25 minutes to serve and prices on the high end. The cafe does not try to over-achieve. I'm sick of overly pretentious cafes that hide mediocre dishes with clever names or go after the word 'superfood' like a fat kid on cake.

Food - 7/10 - decent sized baked eggs dish that is tasty. Rest of the menu boring. 
Value - 5/10 - core items are reasonable for North Shore, specials touch expensive. 
Other - 7/10 - nice, open setting, pram friendly. Small kitchen so food churn is too slow. 
Overall - 6/10 - here I ask myself, would I return? Probably not. At best it's a solid local cafe option; at worst it's a slightly over-priced, small kitchen that can execute basic dishes.

Cafe Eighty Ate - 88 on Urbanspoon

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