We have often lamented the lack of late night dessert options in Brisbane, so announcements that First Met Cafe was open until midnight caught our eye. Perhaps it was an indication that Facebook has been listening, but it was useful information for us. Even Sonder Dessert is now closing earlier (9pm), so we needed alternatives.
Our visit there turned out to not be on a late night, but an early afternoon instead, because we happened to be in the area then. The cafe is within walking distance from Garden City, on the ground floor at the bottom of a block of residential units. The signage is subtle, but we figured that it was the place because it was at the right address.
The name “First Met Cafe” has quite cute, nostalgic throwback connotations. The interior matches that, a cosy space with lots of adorable decorative touches, from mock birds perched atop the light fittings to Line friends character cushions.
There was comfortable seating in the form of pale turquoise fabric couches. They have also clearly thought about Instagram appeal, as they also had swing seats wound with artificial roses, and we spotted a ring light in the corner.
The saying is that picture is worth a thousand words, and even better than pictures are mock-ups. Even before we looked at the menu, our attention was captured by the items in the display case by the service counter. Like the Japanese replicas of food, there were models of a few of their dishes on the shelves, as well as glossy photographs of other dishes. That was certainly a better way to explain the dishes, as the menu itself just had brief listings like “Egg waffle”, “Towel cake”, and “First Met pancake”.
They do also have a range of savoury dishes, many Western-style, like Red wine slow cooked beef cheek and pasta dishes, and also some with Asian flavours, like Coconut beef curry rice and lemongrass chicken wings. There is also quite a detailed bubble tea menu. We were there for desserts though.
One of the replicas in the display case looked like soufflé pancakes, and, excited to have found them here, we ordered two of the item..only to learn that they only had one serving available. We ordered the Soy custard in addition, and a slice of cappuccino cheesecake.
They Soy custard, it turned out, did not come as a complete dish as shown in the display. Ordering the soy custard gets you, well, the custard. Each of the toppings added is extra. The item in the display would actually have cost a few dollars more (at least $4 by quick count). We opted to keep it simple, and added coconut jelly and mango pearls to make it more than just plain custard. The soy custard was smooth, and just lightly sweetened. The coconut jelly was as one would expect, chewy with a sweet coconut flavour. The mango pearls were popping pearls, a spherified mango-flavoured liquid that was released once the alginate skin was burst.
What we had thought would be soufflé pancakes turned out to be their Bubble cake. That was not in itself a terrible thing, as we had seen other bubble tea cakes on social media before, and wanted to try it somewhere. It was prettily presented, the cake surrounded by a ring of diced strawberries, what was probably powdered raspberry, and chocolate striping for more colour.
The theatre of the cake comes from when you lift the collar that holds the cream topping up, and it cascades over the rest of the cake like a volcanic flow. You will have to make do with pre- and post- photos, as videos are too cumbersome to upload here. It certainly looked the part.
When it came to eating the dish, the cake was a sponge cake that didn’t really taste of anything in itself. That topping was much like the cheese foam you can now get on bubble teas (a flavour combination we still don’t get), so sweet and a bit savoury. The tapioca pearls were chewy, but didn’t have flavour or sweetness in themselves.
The cappuccino cheesecake was also nicely presented, a dark plate adding contrast, and cocoa powder and berries again used for colour interest. It had the expected coffee taste, but the texture was dense and gummy.
First Met Cafe is a picturesque little spot that has the advantage of being open late. It seems more suited to those who are after a place to hang out and chill out than those who want a spectacular culinary experience, but there are those who are in the market for just that.
Price point: Our desserts $7 to $10.80 each.
Address: Shop1/5 Cremin St, Upper Mount Gravatt
Phone: 07 3319 1840
Website: First Met Cafe