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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Breakfast at the Smith Street Store.

This morning brought about a pleasant visit to an old local, the Smith St Store (SSS). I have neglected this venue lately, as I have been cooking breakfast at home in an effort to save a few extra dollars.The SSS is not a store, but a delightful little cafe on the corner of Smith and Argyle streets in North Hobart. With an all day breakfast menu, it has long been a favorite since I moved into the area six months ago.

Seating can be limited, so get in early. Anywhere between nine and 10 am is a good time to beat the weekend rush of families, flatmates and couples all vying for a seat on the comfortable black leather sofa, the big wooden table, or the little bench seats that line both front windows. Outdoor seating is also available, but Argyle street can be a touch windy, and the tables are small and cramped together.

The breakfast menu is fairly well rounded, with the usual selection of basic items, like basic toast ($5) or fruit and cinnamon toast ($5.50). The menu leans toward sweet breakfast options, such as a decadent french toast with vanilla poached pears, mascarpone and quince syrup ($14.50). A lot of the breakfast items read more like deserts, which seems heavy for breakfast. I would like to see a few healthier selections. I had a little smirk over the type error on the trio of sorbet's ($9).

There is the usual option of basic egg dishes, starting at $8.50 for two eggs - poached fried or scrambled - on organic white sourdough from Jackman and McRoss bakery. It seems that almost every cafe in the greater Hobart area sources their bread from Jackman, and I whole heartedly approve. A great array of extras are all $3 each, and the SSS big breakfast is only $17, which is excellent value these days.

This morning I was determined to order something other than my favorite dish here - eggs florentine ($13.00). Eggs benedict is also offered at the same price. I ordered the florentine, surprise surprise, I just can't go past the delicious combination of poached eggs, spinach and hollandaise. The eggs were poached to perfection, and the hollandaise was superb. Sourdough toast is used for the florentine/benedict in place of the traditional english muffin, which I prefer.

There are also a couple of interpretive egg dishes on offer, try the poached eggs with crispy pancetta, spinach and Ashgrove fetta ($13.50). The specials board inside offers additional options which change daily.

The girls at SSS work hard and play hard, mostly giving excellent service although often hungover. This is fine by me, they always have smiles on their faces no matter how busy they are. The staff seem to be an all female front of house, perhaps accidental, perhaps a reflection of the lack of male waitstaff in Hobart. The SSS runs with a skeleton staff, the waitresses almost run from table to table, yet seem to remain on top of things.

On the downside, there are never enough newspapers to go around, I'd advise bringing your own on the weekends. And please do not bring a pram. Prams big, cafe is little.

The coffee is usually quite good, although the coffee machine itself is a little archaic, and the barista's technique questionable. There are also freshly squeezed juices and a small soft drink selection. Take-aways are also an option, especially for the locals, when things are getting a little hectic after 11 am.

I would personally consider making a reservation if you have your heart set on those spectacular eggs florentine, you won't find a better cooked breakfast in North Hobart.

325 Argyle St North Hobart
(03) 62319955
7.30 - 5 Weekdays
8.30 - 4 Weekends
Open 7 days, most public holidays.

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