Plenty has been around for a number of years now, which in a cafe scene with ever-increasing competition is quite a feat. Located in a converted warehouse on Montague Road instead of the busy eatery hub of Boundary Street, it has still managed to garner a following of its own, and patronage has probably been boosted by the residents of the new apartment buildings that have sprung up in that part of West End.
The large sign above the entrance makes it easy enough to find, announcing “Plenty” against a light blue background, with smaller lettering under that stating “Locally sourced” and “Responsibly grown”, indicating their ethos. “Know your farmer” sits under that, against a light pink backdrop, harking back to their intent to connect people with the source of their food.
Once through the door, you find yourself in a space with high ceilings, soaring up to two stories above you, and wooden frames that serve as partitions between sections while keeping areas open to each other. There is plenty of wood in use (pardon the pun), including the tabletops, seats, service counters for coffee and food, more solid walls and the floorboards underfoot, giving it a more raw, rustic feel.
The menu is written in chalk on a large board on the wall, and frequently changes, depending on what is available and in season. You order and pay at the counter, then take a numbered marker back to any available table you would like to sit at. There is actually a separate service counter and area for those who just want coffee, to streamline the process.
While at the food counter, you can, like us, be tempted by the cakes available. Their offerings are a bit different from other cafes, with treats like sweet potato cake with cinnamon and honey buttercream, and buckwheat and honeycomb brownies. They are clearly not commercially produced, but what some would describe as artisanally made.
We found ourselves a seat at the side, near where they have preserves and breads for sale, and waited for our food. Music played from a speaker in the corner nearby, easy jive creating a relaxed but upbeat atmosphere. The hum of patron voices never rose to too loud a clamour, as the open space helped to disperse noise. We noted that there weren’t heaters or fans in the space, which might make things a bit less comfortable in the peaks of summer or winter. We did see a number of what looked like air conditioning vents along certain parts of the ceiling though, which might help to temper heat. Being there in an in between time of year, the temperature management didn’t have to be tested, but they must have something worked out by this stage in the game.
The flat white looked good when brought out, with a good microfoam and rich colour. It turned out to be a little on the bitter side though.
The soy iced latte fared better. It was nicely chilled, and a good strength, with chocolatey and faintly dark fruity notes.
Food-wise, from the available menu, we had picked the Sweet potato fritters and the Hash brown.
From the menu, the Sweet potato fritters came with goat’s curd, beetroot relish, and poached eggs. The plating could certainly be called rustic, with the fritters scattered amongst greens that made a base layer over the dish. There didn’t seem to be a particular aesthetic driving the placement of the eggs, beetroot relish, or goat’s curd either. While it didn’t quite score in presentation, it did in deliver in the actual eating though. The fritters had a satisfyingly crunchy layer of batter outside, and were fluffy and well-seasoned on the inside. The goat’s curd was creamy and savoury, a strong flavour that didn’t overpower. The beetroot relish had thin, shredded, tender strips of beetroot, a pickly balance of sweet and tangy. The salad mix making the base wasn’t just leaves, but had fresh herbs like dill, parsley, and mint. There was a variety of flavour notes in each bite, and a range of textures.
The Hash brown was listed as coming with bacon, sauteed greens, feta, poached eggs, and caramelised onion cream. The hash brown was even better than expected. We thought that it might be made of diced potato pieces, like a giant potato gem. Instead, it was composed of thin, noodly strips of potato, which cooked up to a finely crunchy crust outside, while being a softer textured nest on the inside that wasn’t just mushy. It was well-seasoned, but perhaps a touch salty. The caramelised onion cream accompanying it had the complex sweet and savoury, aromatic notes of roasted onion. The bacon pieces were chunky and thick-cut (at least a couple of mm thick). They were meaty and smoky, but were a little on the chewy side, and a touch overcooked. The poached eggs had runny yolks, of course. The leaves retained their spring, and were a contrast from the other savoury components.
Plenty does indeed serve up some tasty fare. What you get will vary depending on what is available, but they put things together well. Their aim of supporting local producers is also a laudable one. It is worth stopping by, at least to be tempted by their cakes.
Price point: $14.50 to $20.50 for things more substantial than toppings on toast or muesli.
Address: 284 Montague Road, West End
Phone: 07 3255 3330