Huskk Cafe has opened in a prominent spot on a corner of a busy roundabout in Grange. We had seen it many times on our way to one of our favourite brunch spots (Freja’s, now transitioned to Elska), and eventually the occasion arose to try it out.
There were a few off-street parks in the complex Huskk Cafe was a part of, but they were all occupied. On-street parking was easy enough to find close to the cafe though. As we walked towards it, we could see that many of the tables in the outside area fringing the cafe were also already occupied.
We walked up the steps to the main entrance of the cafe, where a chalkboard sign helpfully told would-be diners to wait to be seated. It didn’t take long to get a staff member’s attention, and we were asked if we would like to sit inside or outside. There didn’t seem to be a significant difference between either location, as the windows to the outside were all wide open on the cool, overcast day. We chose to sit inside, just to be further away from road traffic.
We were showed to an available table, and cold water and menus brought to us. The menu was a single laminated sheet, with all day food items on one side, and drinks on the other. As we were given the menus, the wait staff told us that it was counter service, and that we could go up and place our orders when we were ready. The menu was quite compact, with just eight main options (excluding the build your own breakfast option starting with eggs on sourdough then a range of possible add-ins). It did, however, manage to span a range that would manage to appeal to most brunchers, from the sweet option of Gingerbread Pancakes to savoury in the Breakkie Burrito, and from the health-conscious of the Nourish Bowl to the more indulgent like the Chicken Karaage Burger. There were also a few dishes in another section to cater to children.
From all the options, we chose the Corn and Zucchini Savoury Waffles, and the Eggs Benny. We went up to the counter to place our order, where we also noted that they helpfully had coffee cups lined up to show customers what their different coffee sizes were, in both eat in and takeaway options. There was also a wood and glass cabinet at the counter with an assortment of pastries and cakes you could order to supplement your coffee or meal. After ordering our food and drinks, we were given a number on a stand to take back to our table.
Huskk Cafe occupies quite a large space, compared to your usual suburban cafe. The light coloured walls and ceilings added to the airy feel. Despite the almost staple design elements of polished concrete floors and scattered pots of greenery, the effect was more beachy than modern minimalist. Ceiling fans kept the air moving, which worked fine for the cool day. Plenty of natural light streamed in from the large windows that took up most of two of the four sides of the eatery. Music played over the speakers, wistful ballads from the likes of Nick Cave, at not too loud a volume. What we did find though, was that the shrieks of screaming children frequently punctured that idyll. While an accompanying consequence of being popular with suburban families, it meant that it was not a relaxing or calming environment. Perhaps some coverings over the hard surfaces might have gone some way to absorbing the noise, but as it was, the shrill sounds were enhanced by the space.
Drinks were brought out first. They use coffee from Bear Bones. The flat white had good texture, and good strength of flavour. It had chocolatey notes, and no bitterness.
They had the option of iced chocolate made with either Mork 70% dark chocolate or 65% milk chocolate with salt. While the initial inclination was to get the dark chocolate version, we were advised by staff that that would not have sweetness to counter the bitterness. We ended up opting for the milk chocolate instead. It was served on a tray, with the components in separate vessels for you to combine yourself. Milk and ice cubes sat in a double-walled glass, so as to keep the contents colder for longer. The warm chocolate waited to be poured from a little pitcher next to it. On a little dish was a pristine cube of a marshmallow, house-made, as per the menu, torched brown just on top.
We poured all of the chocolate into the milk (why leave any behind?), and it just came to the top of the glass, without overflowing. The mix was definitely richly chocolatey, and only faintly sweet. The 70% dark chocolate would almost certainly not have had enough sweetness in the balance for us. The marshmallow was sticky and fluffy, and had a soft, springy texture that was quite different from the marshmallows you get out of the packet. It was sweet, without being cloying. We opted to eat it on its own to enjoy the texture rather than dissolve it in the iced chocolate, but others might do it differently.
It felt like it took a while for the food to arrive, about 40 minutes between when we ordered and it being brought out. It was a busy brunch time on the weekend, but as most of the other tables around finished and left in the interim, it made it seem more drawn out.
The Corn and Zucchini Savoury Waffles had caught our attention as soon as we scanned down the menu. They were listed in the menu as coming with pickled zucchini, lemon labne, poached egg, and charred corn salsa. The waffles were chunky, rather than little flat ones. A whole large waffle had been cut into triangular sections and arranged on the plate with the other ingredients to give the presentation a bit of height. The waffle had plenty of corn and zucchini in it, the golden corn kernels visibly studding the cross section. The waffle was firmer on the outside than the inside, but not really crunchy. The interior had good texture, not too dry or doughy, and there were juicy pops from the corn. Instead of the chunky tomatoey salsa mix we expected, was a charred corn puree at the base of the dish.This was smooth, and had a good balance of smoky flavours and light natural sweetness. The smear of lemon labne on the other side of the plate delivered contrasting tartness. The ribbons of zucchini were crisp, and had a sweet and sour pickle. A wedge of lime allowed you to add more fresh zing if wanted. The dish also came with avocado, which was just ripe, and pleasantly creamy. The poached egg had a runny yolk. As a whole, though the waffles didn’t have the crunchy outside we prefer, the variety in the other components meant that you could have different flavours and textures with each mouthful, making it interesting to eat all the way through.
The Eggs Benny was listed as coming with charred leek and potato hash, poached eggs, bacon, greens, and hollandaise. It was more simply presented than the waffle dish, with the leek and potato hash taking up the main visible bulk of the dish, topped with the bacon, poached eggs, and hollandaise in a neat stack. Different places seem to have very different definitions of particular items. In some places, a potato hash is chopped up potato fried with other ingredients. In others, it takes the form of a fritter (which eateries also do quite differently). The leek and potato hash at Huskk was more like a mashed potato cake, with the inside a seasoned mashed potato mix, containing both smooth and chunky bits, and the outside a crunchy coated crust. This was definitely a better version of potato hash. The poached eggs had soft, runny yolks. The hollandaise that covered them was glossy and creamy, without tartness. While it looked deceptively small, it made for a filling meal, mostly due to the potato hash. We would, however, have liked for it to have had more bacon, especially given the price point for $21.50 for that dish.
Overall, Huskk Cafe delivers some delicious food that is more elaborate than what you would expect from your casual neighbourhood cafe. The pricing goes with that as well, but it clearly remains popular. The service was professional, and we appreciated the input from staff when it came to menu choices. Worth a visit for something a bit different.
Price point: $16.50 to $21.50 for dishes that aren’t the build-your-own. Ours $20 and $21.50 respectively.
Value: Variable, depending on the dish.
Address: 2/8 Days Rd, Grange
Phone: 07 3356 7702
Website: Huskk Cafe