Bruno’s is a cafe on a suburban street of the gradually growing neighbourhood of Tarragindi. After a friend proclaimed it one of her local haunts, and knowing her inclination towards good food and coffee, we decided that we should pay it a visit as well.
Blink and you might miss it, we did have to double back as we reached Cafe O-Mai, also on Cracknell Road, and realised that we must have driven past it. It is nestled in, just next to a park, a prettily refitted Queenslander worker’s cottage done in modern shades of slate grey and white.
It is a surprisingly large space once through the doors, with the cafe essentially spanning two rooms. The decor is homely and light, with of the walls formed from the old weatherboard exterior of the house, complete with its glass windows. The white walls and large glass windows and doors that let daylight in keep the place bright. There is seating outside on the veranda as well, with a pleasant view out to the park, but with the gusty winds outside on the day we visited, we decided that it would be better to be indoors. Lively music (like Macklemore) played over the speakers not too loudly. Patron voices were actually the main contributor to noise, as it was a contained and somewhat echoey space.
We were greeted by staff as soon as we walked in, and after we indicated that we were there for food (not just a takeaway coffee), we were shown to a table. A bottle of water and glasses were brought to the table, and menus. Their menu is fairly succinct, with twelve food items listed on it, as well as their coffees and non-caffeine drinks. Still, it manages to hit notes that would appeal to both the sweet tooths and the savoury hunters, and it was easy to find dishes that piqued our interest. We were told that the Coffee and Cream French Toast and the Morning Gnocchi were a couple of the most popular dishes, but we stuck to our choices of the Salmon En Crout and the Chilli Caramel Pork Belly.
Coffees arrived first. The flat white was found to have a good strength and flavour. It wasn’t bitter at all, and it had an excellent milk texture.
The iced latte was also nicely strong, with nutty and chocolatey flavours, and a hint of vanilla. Our friend was indeed right about them doing good coffee.
The Salmon En Crout(e), as per the menu, was composed of spicy moroccan salmon, rye crouton, avocado, poached eggs, leek, and sourdough. It didn’t come to the table wrapped in a layer of pastry. Rather, it appeared like an open faced sandwich, with a layer of the flaked cooked salmon, on a layer of sliced avocado, on bread, topped with a couple of poached eggs. While it looked relatively simple, it delivered on flavour. The salmon was not dry, and had the right touch of saltiness, as well as a background of earthy spice flavours. The avocado layer had a generous thickness, so it actually gave the dish creaminess rather than being a token presence. The poached eggs had nicely runny yolks. The finely sliced leek gave it a hint of oniony pungent aroma, without being overpowering. The sourdough at the base of the dish was toasted so that it was delightfully crunchy, but not too tough or burnt. It was a good combination of textures, and when put together the components melded without being soggy.
The next dish arrived a little later, as our order had mistakenly been put through as the Chilli Scramble instead of the Chilli Caramel Pork Belly, and they subsequently remade it. Still, the gap gave us time to savour each dish separately. The chilli caramel pork belly came with vegetable korean pancake, bean sprout salad, and nuoc cham. It arrived as a heap on the plate, other elements of interest hidden beneath the colourful salad. The meat of the pork belly was tender and still warm, and had soy and aromatic spice braised flavours. It must have gone through an extra fry, as it also had a crunchy outer skin. The fat layer was jelly like and melted in the mouth. The vegetable pancake was right at the base, soaking up extra flavour from the sauces of the other elements that dripped down from gravity. Like a good kimchi pancake (although there wasn’t kimchi in it), it was crunchy on the outside, but just thick enough so that it wasn’t just a crispy biscuit, but had a bit of chew. They got the ratio of shredded vegetables to batter right as well, so it held together, but wasn’t gluggy. And that aforementioned salad that topped it all wasn’t just a token pile of green leaves, but had a finely sliced assortment of greens, including leeks, cucumber, and coriander leaves, as well as chilli (but not too fiery), fried onions, little shrimp, and nut bits. Again, the mix of salty, sweet, spice, and hints of umami, as well as plenty of textural variation, made for great eating.
The waitstaff were friendly, cheery, and prompt. We felt welcome, and in our time there, it was apparent that a good proportion of the customers there were regulars. It was easy to see why.
Bruno’s certainly hits the right notes as a breakfast or brunch destination. It has the food, the coffee, and a homely, warm feel. It delivers more than you would expect, and despite being away from the usual foodie areas, it is worth the detour.
Price point: $15 to $20 for food items more substantial than porridge or things with toast.
Address: 212 Cracknell Road, Tarragindi
Phone: 0408 911 028