Set in the ground floor space of yet another new apartment block in West End (The Glass Factory), is Morning After. Interestingly titled, it carries connotations of the consequences of a big night out coming home to roost, or regret after an ill thought-out liason. One would have thought that a cheerier name would bode better..
It is a light-filled, modern space, with white-painted brick walls, pale wood and green furniture, and gold accents. Conveniently, the counter along the wall has sockets, including USB outlets, for the tech-dependent among us who need a power supply for our devices. Ambient house music plays in the background at a present but non-intrusive level (mostly), keeping the atmosphere lively.
It wasn’t too busy when we went in, at a sort of mid-afternoon time. The staff greeted us soon after we reached the entrance, and we were given our choice of seats. There are many seating options, from the aforementioned counter seats (along the wall, windows, or serving area), to paired chairs and tables, to a long communal table, to a round booth seating setup that was a bit like a giant bowl, so whatever group size you turn up with, even if it is a party of one, there will be one that suits.
We were soon brought water and menus. The menu is divided into drinks, Morning, which are the all day breakfast choices, and After, which are the lunch choices. Along with food and drink options, the menu lists the DJ who mixed the music and a nutritionist if you need help with other things.
We started with drinks. The coffee was, unfortunately, on the bitter side.
The peanut butter and banana smoothie was chosen with some trepidation, as previous encounters with smoothies with similar components have led to drinks that were overpoweringly banana flavoured, or in one case, tasted just like liquid peanut butter (that was not a good thing). In this case, it was pretty well balanced, with more peanut butter flavour than banana. It wasn’t overly sweet either. It didn’t come out actually cold though, just a bit under room temperature, and we had to get extra ice cubes to make it actually chilled.
The slow roasted lamb shoulder salad read well on the menu, but didn’t have much flavour variation, and the salad greens (charred radiccio, fennel, friarielli) with it were on the bitter side. What it most needed though, was some sort of sauce, because the meat was dry, and after the first few mouthfuls, it just seemed like hard work to get through. There was supposed to have been sherry vinegar and pecorino romano on it, and although there was the hint of tartness from the dressing, it disappeared into the rest of the ingredients without adding moisture.
The sweet corn pakoras with fried egg, haloumi, avocado, smoked corn, and watercress was the other dish we had. The pakoras were slightly on the bready side (I’ve eaten a few from traditional Indian places in my time), but had a good amount of sweet corn and spices in them for flavour, including little surprise bits of chilli. The haloumi wasn’t overcooked, and has the right amount of saltiness to add to the dish. The smoked corn, when the kernals were divested and mixed with the other elements, added a nice sweetness, if not obviously smoky. A wedge of lime was also provided to squeeze over the dish. It suffered from the same problem as the other dish though, which was that it was dry overall and lacked a sauce to tie it all together.
Waitstaff were friendly and attentive, without hovering.
Morning After is a beautifully designed cafe, definitely one you could spend hours relaxing at. The food, however, needs work to bring it up to a similar level. Time will tell..
Price point: Breakfast items $9 to $19, beginning at bagels. Lunch items $16 to $22.
Value: Depends on whether you believe in paying for ambience..
Address: 57 Vulture Street, West End (at the junction with Cambridge Street)
Phone: 07 3844 0500
Website: Morning After