White Mojo was one of the pre-determined destinations on the trip to Melbourne. Only open for a bit over a month, it had already managed to drum up quite a bit of hype, thanks to its cleverly intentionally pretty dishes. They are clued in to the notion that we eat with our eyes first, and have used it to their advantage.
Mojo: influence, magical power, or spell. As opposed to voodoo or black majic, they have gone with the more positive variety. They have charmed their audiences, and a guaranteed wait in line to eat there on weekends attests to that. So far, they seem to be managing to hold their own, even with longstanding brunch champion Hardware Société a few paces away in the same laneway.
The interiors are white, with grey marbled hexagon tiles transitioning into wood strips in the area behind and above the service counter. There is ample natural light from the large glass front window, and it is well lighted from overhead lights, in a shade between warm and cool lighting. The high ceilings give it a feeling of spaciousness. The tabletops have similar hexagon tiles to those on the wall. There is a mix of tables seating up to four, and a communal table near the window, matched with light wood-topped chairs or stools. Music was barely audible above the crowd hum, apart from dance base beats.
There are decor elements around to remind you of the mojo theme, like the coffee-coloured pictures featuring skulls that hang on one of the walls, and the rack of staff aprons near the entrance that have skulls and skeletons on the inside surface. There is also a shiny mosaic-tiled bull’s head that looks over patrons at the communal table, and perhaps it is them hoping for bullish fortunes.
After the requisite wait, we were found a seat at the communal table, and were soon brought menus and a bottle water with glasses. It was a pleasant surprise to find that the water was cool and fizzy, a luxury we had not encoutered before, the general standard in Brisbane being flat tap water that, if you’re lucky, manages to be below room temperature.
We started with drinks. The flat white was thought to have good flavour, with good strength. It had no bitterness.
The soy matcha latte was slightly sweetend, with nice matcha flavour. Again, there was no bitterness. Both the flavour and vibrant colour indicated that they use good quality matcha. It had nicely textured milk, with a fine microfoam.
There were a few interesting choices on the menu, and while the Cauliflower panna cotta, and the Chilli prawn and chorizo were tempting, in the end we chose the Salmon tartare and the White Mojo croissant burger.
The Salmon Tartare could be construed as a healthy-ish dish, given its components. The salmon pieces were tender small cubes. The mayonnaise definitely had a spicy kick. There were little dollops of smooth avocado, though the mayonnaise overpowered the avocado taste, and certainly any miso flavour in it. The dehydrated onion had sweetness, and also carried a bit of heat. The 63 degree egg was soft and had the anticipated gooey yolk. The menu had said crisp bagel, but we weren’t expecting the crisp slivers that came out. They were substantial enough to hold ingredients piled onto them, and added a nice crunch to the mouthful. Overall though, the dish was too salty, and the amount of heat in it was overpowering so that you couldn’t taste the more lightly flavoured components.
The White Mojo Croissant Burger, on the other hand, was a total winner. The croissant itself was buttery, flaky, and crunchy. Given their bakery suppliers are Brioche by Phillip and Rustica, they have chosen good starting ingredients. The soft shell crab was also beautifully golden brown and crunchy. There are some places where the crab turns out to be oily when you bite into it. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case here. Dollops of chipotle mayonnaise along the edge of the plate were similar to the mayonnaise with the salmon tartare, but kinder to the other ingredients in a smaller amount. There was also a runny-yolked egg in the middle of it that provided a sort of sauce for the dish as you ate. It was definitely delicious. Looking at the menu now though, although it says there was smoked eel and chorizo dust in the dish as well, I’m not convinced either were present.
Waitstaff were efficient, and always had a smile. The bottles of water were replaced before they were completely emptied, so we were never out of water. Despite the constant bustle, they seemed to manage the flow well.
Overall, White Mojo seems to have found a winning formula. Whether there are magical spells being cast in the background somewhere or not, they are doing well. They have photogenic food in a pleasant environment, and good caffeine. Through the month of June, they are also doing takeaway coffees at $1 for a small, and $2 for a large before 10am, which is a bargain. Having had a couple of the takeaway ones and in feedback from another friend who also had them though, they aren’t as strong as the usual serves, and sometimes short of the expected size of serve in the cup..
Food 3/4 (The croissant on its own was very good, but apparantly missing promised ingredients, and the drinks in-house were good, but the tartare pulled the score down.)
Price point: $14.50 to $24 for food items. Caffeine $4 for white coffees, $5 for a hot matcha latte, soy 50c extra.
Value: They’re not cheap, but if you choose the right thing, you get a good deal of deliciousness. Would also be good if they put all the ingredients in..
Address: 115 Hardware Street, Melbourne CBD
Phone: 03 9078 8119
Website: White Mojo