Penny Coffee Co is a cafe in Woolloongabba, away from the usual cafe hubs. Pictures of some of its dishes on social media caught our eye, and we headed there late on a drizzly weekend morning.
It is housed in a standalone building, bucking the recent trend, not at the base of a new apartment tower. A rather striking mural draws attention as the eatery is approached from the pavement.
The interior is a well-lighted space, the brightness enhanced by white walls, and shiny white tiles near the service area. There is also an internal courtyard area, and large glass windows let daylight in from there as well. Polished concrete floors, and warm wood hues from the tables and seats add to the modern cafe decor palette, as do pots of greenery hanging from the ceiling and perched on shelves. A slightly more quirky feature were black strips that ran up the wall and to the ceiling, where lights were suspended from the end, so that they looked like stylised street lamps. They, and the bright yellow borders that framed the large picture windows gave the space a little more character.
We were greeted as we entered the cafe, and were shown to an available table. Water was brought out to us in a stoneware jug, and accompanying squat glasses. There was a little bottle of fresh yellow flowers at the table, matching the yellow around the large windows. Michael Jackson played over the speakers at a comfortable volume. There was a little traffic noise from vehicles tyres on the wet road outside, and the occasional train overhead, but it wasn’t too disruptive.
The menu was on a single large sheet of paper, printed on both sides, with food items on one side, and drinks on the other. An additional slip of paper describing the weekend special and available coffee blends was clipped to it. We were tempted by a few of the dishes, and wait staff were happy to provide some input on which might suit our appetites best. We ended up picking the special and the Crispy Skinned Pork Belly.
We began with coffees first, of course. The flat white was strong, with good texture and flavours. There was no bitterness to it.
The soy iced latte had chocolatey notes, and was a little fruity in the finish. It too had good strength. We could have done with a spoon though, as as the ice melted, it formed a layer of water on top, and needed mixing in.
The weekend special was Chipotle Pulled Pork and black beans with blue and white tortilla chips, sweet corn fritas, mango coriander salsa, pickled onions, lime crema, and a yolky (an egg). It was a vibrant, colourful dish when brought out, the vegetable and fruit components in warm hues of red, yellow, pink, and green. The pulled pork had tomatoey flavours and a little heat. It was meaty and saucy enough, without being sloppy. The mango and coriander salsa added fruity, sweet notes. The lime crema was creamy and fresh, without being too sour. The poached egg did indeed have a runny yolk. The tortilla chips were crunchy. They softened when in contact with the saucy toppings (mainly those at the bottom of the pile), but still held form enough for you to get the chip to your mouth, with other ingredients on it.
The Crispy Skinned Pork Belly dish also had watermelon, cucumber, coriander and radish salad, crispy shallots, and Thai chilli jam. It too was prettily presented, with the red and green components of the salad brightening what would otherwise be quite a brown-beige plate, and airy white rice crisps in ethereal shapes making a modern addition that still referenced a more typical accompaniment (prawn crackers). The pork belly cubes did indeed have crispy crackling skins on top, as promised (we would have been disappointed otherwise), and layers of soft meat and chewy fat beneath that. The salad was a fresh mix of thinly shaved cucumber, bean sprouts, fresh coriander, mint, and chopped peanuts. It was salty, sweet, a little tart, and carried a definite chilli heat. It reminded us of the flavours of some of the dishes at the Spirit House. The watermelon was a sweet and cooling contrast to those, and an an interesting addition mixed in. Together, they offset the heavier meat chunks well.
Both of the dishes we had were a good mix of textures and complex flavours. They were well-presented and delicious, and quite different from each other, but nicely done. The serving sizes were also satiating rather than stingy. Penny Coffee Co is a good addition to the Woolloongabba eatery scene, and though a little out of the way from the others, is worth the visit.
Price point: Food items $17 to $20 for dishes more substantial than spreads on toast.
Value: Not bad.
Address: 109 Annerley Rd, Dutton Park
Website: Penny Coffee Co