Same Same But Different was a phrase we saw on a lot of tourist T-shirts in Vietnam. The relatively new café of the same name in Corinda doesn’t, despite that association, serve Vietnamese food, but more eclectic, modern fare. We haven’t as yet made it to Bare Bones Society, its older sister store, which has a reputation for a pared-back take on fine food. Same Same But Different is a little closer in, so we thought we would try it out.
In keeping with where new cafes seem to emerge these days, it is on the ground floor of a new apartment block. The signage is quite easily visible as you pass by, in clean black and white. Matching black umbrellas are perched above some of the tables outside to give patrons extra shade. The café has two entrances, both with clear signs asking patrons to wait to be seated on the doors. There weren’t clearly staff to seat us when we came through the entrance nearer the counter though, and not being sure how it was meant to work, we just joined the line at the counter. We snaffled a menu as the line progressed, and scanned through it, already armed with some idea of what we would like from having looked at the online menu ahead of time. Having arrived at the fortuitous time when breakfast and lunch availability overlapped, we were able to choose from all the options. The menu certainly has interesting items, like the Morning Glory, listed as having Mandarin, camu camu and basil sorbet, aerated yoghurt, kefir jelly, mint, and summer fruits, and the Sort of Canadian Breakfast, with French toast bites, candied bacon and maple Chantilly, and coffee infused milk jam. It certainly speaks to the fine dining roots of its head chef. Leaning more to something savoury though, we eventually settled on the Pablo Diablo and the poached free range chicken breast salad.
We placed our orders, then were promptly seated after the staff realised that we hadn’t been shown to seats yet. As we followed them around the corner to the table, we caught sight of the specials board, hidden behind a pillar, and decided to amend our order from the salad (even though the menu heading had said Who Said You Can’t Make Friends With Salad) to the Tomato and Mozarella Croquette special. A tall glass beaker of cold water and glasses were subsequently quickly brought to the table. I suspect if the usual processes had been followed, it would just have been counter service, where you are seated, given menus, then go up to the counter to order and pay..and get to see the specials board before you order.
The fit out of the café uses lots of black, in the ceiling, the light fixtures, the stair railings, and the chairs. It also has dark wood look floors. It doesn’t all look too gloomy though, as it is offset by stone grey tabletops and white walls. Plenty of natural light comes through the glass all around the front and side of the café. It is air conditioned, and was a cool respite from the hot day outside. Music was playing at a comfortable level, laidback tunes from the likes of Ed Sheeran creating an appropriate weekend chill mood.
Our coffees soon arrived. Their coffee is supplied by Toby’s Estate, rather than, as I had thought, Bear Bones Espresso. How much more would that have made sense? The iced latte had roasted and fruity notes, but was a bit on the tart, green side.
The flat white with an extra shot was thought to have good flavour, without bitterness, and was well-textured.
The Pablo Diablo had haloumi, potato, sour cream and chive hashcake, pulled slow roasted pork, avocado, charred corn and black bean salsa, spiced fried eggs, and green mole. It was strikingly plated, with a sweep of white puree on the side of the black plate. That puree turned out to be a garlic puree that certainly had pungency and heat. It wasn’t as strong as crushed garlic on its own, but it was wise of them to just have that on the side, so you could have as much as you wanted, and if it was overpowering, that was your own fault for having too much with your bite. The potato, sour cream and chive hashcake had soft potato inside with almost curry flavours, and a crunchy crumb layer on the outside that retained its crunch for a good while despite being blanketed by the host of other ingredients. The pulled pork was finely separated and juicy, without being sloppy. The avocado was served guacamole-style, with little chunks so that it wasn’t entirely a mushy puree. The corn in the salsa wasn’t actually charred, but it was delicious nonetheless, and added a little sweetness. There were yellow pickled chillies as well, that were more pickly than fiery, despite their appearance. Overall, it was a dish with good strong flavours, and a bit of heat, but not too much, and definitely something different from the usual.
The special was listed as Croquettes of tomato and mozzarella, pan fried haloumi, chorizo and sautéed spinach, poached eggs, and hollandaise. The croquettes seemed more like little arancini balls, with cooked rice in the middle of the crumbed crunchy outside. We couldn’t find the tomato or much mozzarella in them. While we initially wondered if they’d given us the wrong item, there certainly wasn’t anything else like them listed on the menu. They weren’t bad, just..not what we were expecting when we ordered the dish. The chorizo was spicy, savoury, and perfectly cooked so that the skin was crunchy but the meat remained tender. The haloumi also wasn’t overcooked, so it was soft instead of being rubbery. The poached eggs had runny yolks, of course. The hollandaise over it all was creamy and tangy, and hiding at the bottom of the dish was a blob of that garlic puree, so there was certainly flavour through it all.
The waitstaff were prompt and polite, and had smiles each time we encountered them.
Same Same But Different definitely knows how to get flavours into their food, and if you’re looking for something that’s not the same as the usual suspects, this is the place to head to. Something else that we didn’t try, but saw arriving at other tables, were their Fun shakes. Also known as freakshakes as they were taking the rest of the world by storm, they are milkshake varieties topped with doughnuts, waffles, and more. Yet another reason to venture there..
Price point: Breakfast items $15 to $25 for more than eggs on toast. Lunch items $17 to $20.
Value: Not bad.
Address: 101/640 Oxley Road, Corinda
Phone: 07 3278 2150
Website: Same Same But Different