We were last at Todd and Pup a few months ago, and were pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation from the owner to revisit it and check out their new food and fit out. We had a preparatory scout of their menu (like doing a bit of a background check before you meet someone), and found some items we definitely wanted to try.
We made our way down to that little strip of suburban shops at the border of Tarragindi and Moorooka on a weekend at peak brunch time. The list of things that are not a good idea to do at the same time everybody else wants to do it include going on holiday, getting into the stock market, and going for brunch. Todd and Pup was absolutely packed when we arrived, with the tables both inside and out mostly occupied. Fortunately, a table had been saved for us.
Since our last visit, the interior had been reconfigured. There was more seating, with black booth seats that doubled as partitions between the service counter and the seating area. It smoothed the flow somewhat, so that there was a clear path for people to walk through when paying that didn’t interfere with other patrons having their meals. It made the space feel cosier but not closed-in. There were also more pots of greenery hanging from the ceiling in line with the booth seats, again doing double duty as partition and decor.
Around the corner was another area well-suited for groups. Mostly hidden from the main seating area, the fairy lights strung across the ceiling were the only hint that that space was there. More of those black booth seats made private little alcoves. There was also a longer wooden table that would fit a larger group, with a backdrop of hanging plants and lighted by pendant cage lights.
We were brought menus, items now printed in columns on a single laminated sheet, with food on one side, and drinks on the other. At the table was also a small laminated sheet with a short list of specials. We had already seen the menu before coming to the eatery, and were about 80% decided on what to have before we sat down. It is worth mentioning though, that the menu has had modifications and additions compared to what was before, that quite cleverly cater to most of what brunch hunters are after. With a french toast, waffles, eggs benedict, vegetable stack, and burger dish (not all together), most will find something that appeals to them. The even more indulgent items that drew us (and many others, from what we were told after we had placed our orders), the Sauteed Mushroom Madame, and the Mac and Cheese Chimmi Changa (their spelling), also feature some popular components.
We began with soy iced lattes. They arrived in handled glasses that looked like jars, with a nice gradient of colouration between the milk on the bottom and the espresso that had been added on top. They were well chilled, and had good flavour, with nutty, dark chocolate notes.
It did take a while for our food to be prepared (about an hour), as we were, as mentioned, there at peak brunch time. We entertained ourselves in the meantime reading the available newspapers. There was music playing in the background, but only the buzz of the base was audible above the voices of other customers. Intermittently, the clatter of cups and the hiss of the coffee machine rose from the service area. While it wasn’t a serene setting, it wasn’t too raucous either, and if anything, just seemed like a lively cafe.
When the food was brought to the table, we thought that the dishes looked delectable.
The Mac and Cheese Chimichanga came with crispy bacon, Jack cheese, chive ranch, and chilli. We opted to add a couple of poached eggs to it, as it hadn’t sounded quite substantial enough when reading the components on the menu. It arrived looking, as we had somewhat expected, like a breakfast wrap, but spruced up with the bright green chive ranch sauce, and a scattering of fresh herbs. It was golden brown on the outside from being deep-fried, but wasn’t oily. It had a crunch on the outside, and then more chew from the tortilla skin layer on the inside that remained unfried. The macaroni and cheese mix was better the closer to the middle of the chimichanga we got. It was a good, cheesy, saucy mix, contrasted well by the firmer texture and punches of saltiness of the bacon pieces. At the ends of the chimichanga, the mix was less packed, and seemed a little dry initially. The chive ranch sauce besides adding brightness to the look of the dish, also added brightness to the flavour, with a slightly tangy, herby note. The greens dressing it, like coriander and chives, also gave it freshness. We initially thought that there were sliced chillies on top of it as well, but they turned out to be fine slices of capsicum, and only looked fiery. The poached eggs had nicely gooey yolks. Macaroni and cheese is a frequently added, but too often not well executed dish component. We would add this to the list of dishes where it has worked.
The Sauteed Mushroom Madame had garlic mushrooms, fried eggs, mascarpone, mozzarella, fried enoki, and garlic yoghurt. The presentation was salivation-inducing. From between the golden toasted bread slices peeked extruded mozzarella cheese, also browned at the edges. Sunny-yolked eggs sat on top of that, partly blanketed themselves by a tangled heap of the fried enoki mushrooms.The garlic yoghurt circling the plate served as both plating decor and flavour. It was smooth, and had just the right amount of garlic flavour, delivering a strong earthy aroma without being overpowering. The toast slices were buttery and crunchy, and of a generous thickness, so you had both that crunch on the outside of each slice and softness inside. Filling the sandwich was a mushroom duxelle. If you wanted mushrooms, they were delivering mushrooms. Mozzarella cheese melted on the bottom slice of bread made a base for that. The fried enoki mushrooms that topped the Mushroom Madame tasted like they had been brined before frying, crisp coating on the outside giving way to the salted, slightly juicy, fibrous texture of the mushrooms as bitten into. The fried eggs had soft, still slightly runny yolks. All the components worked well together, the combination of mushrooms, garlic, and cheese being classic for good reason. The one gripe we had about it though, was that once you ran out of that delicious garlic sauce, it was a bit dry on balance. The classic croque madame often has a bechamel sauce, and that would have tied it all together nicely.
Todd and Pup has lifted its game since we were last there. The space is now more welcoming, and the menu has some nice additions. It is worth noting that they will be changing their menu every three months though, so there are likely to be different, and hopefully as interesting dishes on the way. It is worth visiting, but perhaps try to avoid the busiest brunch hours.
Service: Difficult to fairly judge what is standard, as an invited guest. We were well looked after on our visit, including a knife being swiftly replaced after being accidentally knocked off the table, before we even had time to try to get someone’s attention to have it replaced. 1.5/2
Price point: $13 to $18 for items more substantial than eggs or avocado on toast.
Value: Not bad, for the items we had.
Address: 398 Tarragindi Road, Moorooka
Phone: 07 3358 9746
Website: Todd and Pup