Despite its faults, Urbanspoon’s “Talk of the Town” segment does seem to provide a pretty good reflection of just which eateries are getting all of the attention, *ahem*, hype. Devon Cafe’s one of the newest kids to come on the block, living in the top 10 for a fair few weeks, and with an incredible amount of media coverage up to, and including the Good Food Guide.
Right, it’s time for I’m Still Hungry to pay a visit – no scratch that, TWO visits. I’m of solid opinion that I’ll need to experience at least three dishes (drinks excluded) at any eatery before forming an overall conclusion – while taking into account the importance of a first impression.
Date Last Visited: 11/8/13
Address: 76 Devonshire St Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Recommended Dish(es): breakfast of champions
Situated only a 3 minute walk from Central station (closer if you get off at the right exit), Devon is easily reachable, but keep an eye for the signage, as it’s a fairly small cafe, and you may miss it.
Devon is run by two ex-Guillaume chefs, so it’s no wonder that the cafe’s been generating so much buzz. So the story goes, the fine dining scene is taking some hard hits in recent years, so chefs are moving into more profitable areas that cater to a much wider audience. Well, either that, or they no longer want to cater to such a picky audience, and instead dream of producing food that’s “closer to the heart”. In Devon, this definitely shows.
There are three sections to the cafe, each with a distinctly different decor. At the front, we have a wood dominated facade, while the middle and back (which can’t be seen from the front) incorporate camo and graffiti fixtures for a much more utilitarian/rustic look.
The work of designer Matt Woods, Devon’s decor is not your ordinary decor; love it or hate it, it stands out no matter where in the cafe you choose to sit! For an extra touch, watered flowers are spaced out on every table. It’s a nice flair, though if you’re on the round tables and decide to order a lot of dishes you’ll be fighting for table space! My first visit to Devon was fairly routine – but the food we ordered was anything but. We had expected the “standard fare”, but Devon does something different with each of their dishes – there’s always a hint of that fine dining touch.
The Lady ordered a juice to begin with, which is very light in flavour. It’s quite refreshing, but for once I had wished it was a little bit sweeter and the lime flavour more accentuated. Still, as far as refreshing goes, it’s great.
Instead of my usual cap/latte order, I decided to try out just what it is that makes Devon’s affogato “Devon’s”. What I got was almost like a mini degustation. To say I was mildly excited would be an understatement – when I saw the wooden board arrive, I thought the breakfast itself had arrived! I’m in love with this affogato – multiple scoops of vanilla ice cream make for a generous serving, with a deliciously warm dark chocolate sauce that really adds to the novelty of the dish. Most affogatos are just coffee & ice cream.
The coffee shot itself is, as expected strong and roasty, and goes superbly with the ice cream & chocolate.
Enough said, I’ve discovered my new favourite affogato.
Everyone raves about Devon’s unofficial, seasonally-dependent signature dish – the ultimate truffle toastie. I did have this on my second visit (so more on it below), but suffice to say, due to my unique aversion to most things fungus, my favourite dish at Devon would have to be the breakfast of champioms! Blood sausage/pudding has a special place in my heart, having grown up in China where blood (in solid form) is actually a common part of the diet.
Devon’s version is presented beautifully, essentially a fully-featured fine dining dish with all the trimmings. The blood sausage is extremely, extremely flavoursome – you can eat bread with it. Lather it in the yolk of the perfectly coooked 63C egg, and this dish is already done before I even take a bite.
My only wish was for them to add an egg, but I get it – this already nearly filled me up (along with the affogato), two eggs would have really put the pressure on. In this respect, Devon is also very good value for money. Yep, this dish ticks many boxes for me – oodles of different, complementary flavours, varying textures and excellent presentation throughout.
Basque is a fancy word which essentially refers to the capsicum/large peppers family, which is what enables Devon to put this as a homonym on the menu. The Lady ordered this, but she actually didn’t like it too much, saying that it’s really just too much, and more bread could be given. In tasting it for myself, my first surprise was actually that there’s no meat (I didn’t look at the dish description closely enough). In retrospect, this makes sense – the dish is only $14, so that should have clued me in. In taste, it’s quite good – a savoury sweet kind of deal going on here, perhaps just a little too watery.
I do agree that it’s difficult for one person to finish, because after you go through half of it, it begins to taste very samey. The lack of bread compounds this. I feel that this dish would be best shared, so that’s my recommendation here. Definitely not your usual version of baked eggs!
On my second visit to Devon, I decided to scope out the breakfast menu a bit more, and got myself the citrus cured salmon. Devon’s philosophy of pickling and curing shines brightly here, with
Only available on weekends, and only during truffle season (which unfortunately happens to end when August does), Devon’s signature dish presents itself with a presence that is not easily rivaled by any other mere breakfast dish. There’s a bit of scale here, but really, you have to see it to just take in how MUCH there actually is. If you don’t describe your appetite as “voracious”, you may not even end up finishing this dish. There’s a LOT going on.
So how does a food blogger who actively avoids most kinds of mushrooms fare with the signature dish of a well-reputed cafe that’s actually comprised largely of mushrooms?
Mixed, is what it is. I must say that this toastie is executed superbly well. The toast forms a great base for the oddles of sauteed-just-right mushrooms that top it. The cheese is an absolute requirement as it holds everything together, while at the same time not allowing the mushrooms to overpower the entire dish. If the cheese wasn’t there, I’m not sure I could have swallowed all that mushroom. As it stands, I was actually able to finish almost all of it!
But that’s not all, Devon continues to justify its hefty $25 luxury charge for this dish with two perfectly done sunny side up eggs, which further takes away the “sting” of the mushrooms, and the truffle shavings on top give it that aroma that nothing else can.
Yes, a mushroom dish that a mushroom detractor actually almost completely consumed. If that doesn’t tell you how good this toastie is, nothing else will.
After all this, I was able to wash things down with a great latte – not the coffee expert here, so no lingering comments. Lest be said – it’s a great coffee by my primitive standards, so that does it for me. I think I may value the latte art more
At Devon’s counter, you’ll find a rather large selection of baked goods to buy if you’re feeling like something to nom on the run. I didn’t try any out, but no doubt all of it taste as good as they look.
….oohhhh tempted, maybe next time! Yes, there’ll definitely be a next time.
There’s a new kid in town, and he’s pretty cool. Devon’s now on the block and it’s here to stay; the bar has been raised.
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
Awesome: beautiful presentation; bold, delicious flavours, makes a mushroom hater almost like mushrooms (a mean feat)
Not so Awesome: still can’t totally dig a mushroom dish (disregard if you like mushrooms), chicks in basque is too heavy & needs more bread