Dandelion and Driftwood has been in Hendra for some time now. They have made their name as a place for speciality coffee and tea, and even branched out to coffee popsicles with Queen of Pops in Clayfield. We had not been there for a while, as when we were last there (in the early days), the cafe mostly did beverages and just light accompaniments like cupcakes, cookies, and similar sweets. Given that we typically seek food as well, it didn’t quite offer enough as a cause to frequent. It has since moved on to serving more robust items, however, so it seemed time for a revisit.
Next to a couple of other shops on a suburban street, it has a relaxed atmosphere. The air conditioning was a nice escape from the warm day outside. Jazzy, almost techno music was playing in the background, loud enough to be present but not intrusive.
Inside, the decor has rustic charm. A long communal table takes a large proportion of the floorspace, with replica Phillippe Starck Louis ghost chairs with it. There are padded chairs with black and white floral pattern prints against wooden tables that seat two as the other seating option. The wooden tables were on the small side though, which meant that once you had the bottle of water, glasses, salt and pepper shakers, and two cups, there wasn’t much space when your food arrived. There is plenty of natural light through the large glass window at the front of the cafe, and there are warm lights inside as well. Perhaps unsurprisingly, coffee equipment takes up most of the space at the counter.
A print of long grass and butterflies appears in a few places. On the shop front glass, on the coffee machine, on the paper bag the cutlery comes in..
We were shown to seats, and bought menus and water (lukewarm) soon after we arrived.
Coffee is one of the things they pride themselves on, and there are a few blends available at any one time. They also have a couple of house blends, the Dandelion, described as mellow, having a milk chocolate body, jammy fruit sweetness, and nutty undertones, and the Driftwood, described as having a rich dark chocolate body, flavours of liquorice, molasses, and dry berries, and having an earthy finish. The staff were happy to help with coffee blend selection if required. We picked the Driftwood blend for both of our drinks.
The flat white was pretty good. It didn’t convincingly have all the notes claimed though.
The coffee milkshake was cool enough in temperature, but didn’t taste perceptibly of coffee. Most galling though, was the $2 extra charge for soy instead of dairy milk on their drinks. It is the most expensive anywhere I’ve seen. I asked why it was that much, and they said it was because they didn’t sell many soy-based coffees, and couldn’t then buy in bulk from suppliers. Given that soy milk is now widely available rather than an exotic rarity, and that a litre of soy milk sells for about a dollar in the supermarket, of which just a fraction is used for a standard cup of coffee, and that most other cafes charge about 50 cents for the same (which I am still unconvinced is necessary), this seems like a poor excuse for a blatant rip-off. The price of the caffeinated drink typically already factors in the use of milk of some form. Charging a whole $2 more for using soy instead is just plain profiteering. Cost apart, I wouldn’t get it again.
The food items on the menu sounded promising, with rather poetic names such as The Dandy Man, Temper Tantrum, and Twin Rivers of Gold, and matchingly good components. We decided on The Drifter Woman and First Crack.
First Crack was a savoury cheese and chive waffle served with short cut bacon rashers, rocket, hickory smoked honey, and a dollop of cream cheese.The waffle did taste of chives. It was soft throughout, with no crunchy bits to it though. It would accurately have fit the Mitch Hedberg description of essentially being a pancake with a syrup trap. In this case, however, the honey was only notable as a line around the plate rather than generously applied over the waffle. The bacon was cooked alright. There was indeed a dollop of cream cheese on top of it all, but the dish was dry overall, and there just wasn’t enough of it to make a difference. It really needed some sort of sauce, and something crunchy for a different textural component apart from chewy.
The Drifter Woman was a house made potato rosti topped with Hank’s onion marmalade, served with short cut bacon rashers, free range fried egg, and fresh spinach and chives. Only on review afterwards did it become apparant how similar the two dishes really were. Unfortunately, this also suffered from similar problems. The potato rosti were soft and squishy, with no crispy bits despite the browned sides. They were mildly salty from seasoning. Again, it was a dry dish. The yolk from the fried egg, though not cooked solid, didn’t serve as a sauce. There wasn’t anything to tie the components together. It wasn’t a particularly good dish, and even the presentation lacked appeal. Similar to what we encountered at Let Minnow, it was like they just threw it on the plate at the pass instead of considering what it would be like for the customer.
The wait staff were friendly, and knowledgeable about coffee.
Overall, Dandelion and Driftwood is probably an alright place for coffee, if you pick the right thing, but their food is below par, especially given the prices being charged. As mentioned, the price for soy in particular is exorbitant. It goes beyond pushing the love, to grounds for separation. Not somewhere we will be likely to return in a hurry.
Price point: $16.50 to $22. $18 and $18.50 for each of the dishes we ordered.
Address: 1/45 Gerler Rd, Hendra
Phone: 07 3868 4559
Website: Dandelion and Driftwood