It’s no secret that I adore the masterminds (evil geniuses) behind Cantina 663, Ace Pizza and El Publico. So when I heard that Soto Cafe had closed down and these same owners decided to open a new place, I added yet another venue to my wishlist.
Last weekend I had a day planned with my best friend Carly to go for breakfast and do some shopping. After a delicious meal at Sayers and some shoes later, we decided to go to Mary Street Bakery for some cake and coffee, and to check out the new kid on the block.
It seems getting there around 2/3pm is the right time, with tables more easily available and the vibe a little less hectic. The first thing I notice is the space is gorgeous, with white washed brick, and concrete floors. There’s wooden furniture and a nice openness to the environment. But the exposed materials means that there’s no noise reduction, which means it is LOUD. Even at this time of the day, Carly and I find ourselves basically screaming at one another to be heard.
Since we’re there for an afternoon snack, we make our way up to the top level to explore the sweet options that they have available. There’s escargot, filled and not filled donuts, various tarts and cupcakes. We spy a couple things we like and then make our way back to our table to order.
Things start off with a beverage each, with myself opting for a Fresh Orange Juice ($6.50). It comes out in a small glass bottle with straw poking out; the liquid a vibrant orange and the taste zingy and fresh. For the price it’s a little on the expensive side considering the size, but the flavour makes up for this.
We decide on sharing a Chocolate Peanut Salted Caramel Tart ($6.50) and two Filled Donuts ($3.50 each). Unfortunately our waiter is a bit too distracted and doesn’t quite hear our order properly, so only one of the donuts comes out. But that’s easily fixed, with another soon delivered after we correct the order.
Unfortunately we then have to flag down another of the waiters that’s bustling around as we haven’t been given any cutlery to eat our desserts with even though the tables next to us have been provided them prior to ordering. I’m not sure if we just managed to be one of the unlucky ones as we also didn’t get water given to us, though other tables did.
The tart looks like a giant Reece’s peanut butter cup (one of our favourite chocolates!). Thin milk chocolate on top with a light peanut infused salted caramel mousse inside that sits atop a dark, bitter chocolate base.
It’s so rich, but absolutely delicious. I love the lightness of the filling, and the combination of sweet and salty. The bitterness of the base counters the sweetness of the top, which cracks open when my spoon scoops through.
Our filled donuts are small but look like a sugary bite of heaven with the glorious yellow custard inside. The actual donut itself isn’t as soft as I’d hoped for, rather the mixture is more on the denser side of things. I do really like the custard though, and the sugary cinnamon rub on the outside – it’s sweet and makes the dish a lovely afternoon treat.
When it came to paying for our dishes after Carly and I were done, it was a bit of a difficult situation trying to waive someone down. While the wait staff can bring you the bill, you need to go up to the counter to pay which is a bit of a strange set up. But once we figure it out, we make our way back up to the baked good spread to pay and exit this warm but oh so loud hotspot.
One week later Jeremy and I decided we’d go out for breakfast, and after reading the normal menu for Mary Street Bakery online, we make our way in to the throng of Beaufort St. It’s busy when we arrive but we only have to wait about 10 minutes before being shown in to a table. They cater well for waiting guests with a couple wooden (and actually comfortable) benches outside for you to rest on.
Once we’re inside, we’re tucked into a corner and it is even louder than the week before. Jeremy’s talking to me and I am basically screaming back, craning my neck to hear what he’s saying. But when you get past that, the atmosphere itself is enjoyable – everyone there is in good spirits and there’s juices, coffees and plate after plate passing us by.
We start things off with a fresh squeezed orange juice each, though I am tempted by the apple, ginger, mint and kale one that they have available – I overhear it’s sold out though from a nearby table ordering.
Once the preliminary drink order has been made, we peruse the menu to make our breakfast choices. There’s quite a few delicious sounding options, but Jeremy’s quick to choose (though he nearly waivers), settling on the Sardine Fritters, Roast Tomato & Fennel ($19).
The sardine fritters are little but packed full of flavour, strangely meaty despite being sardines. There’s a great assortment of herbs and spices, and the seasoning is spot on. There’s a roast tomato puree underneath which is thick but juicy still, offering some sweetness to counter the fritters. And while I’m not a big aniseed flavour fan, Jeremy says the fennel on top is fresh and crisp, working well with the abundance of parsley sprigs.
For the price tag, it’s on the small side so I think maybe a side of toast with this might work better for bigger eaters, but all up it’s well executed and enjoyed.
Like usual when ordering, I am so torn between two dishes. There’s baked eggs with tomatoes, beans, sumac and yoghurt which sounds heavenly. But in the end I follow my love of mushrooms and choose the Mushrooms Sauteed, Pickled Crispy Egg, Mojo, Crispy Parmesan ($19).
It is a beautiful dish. A variety of mushrooms including enoki, crispy swiss brown, king brown and shitake sit atop a bed of mojo, which is a Puerto Rican herb sauce made up of finely chopped parsley with salt, crushed garlic and olive oil. Sometimes there’s onion, vinegar and pepper used in this sauce too.
But as I eat I notice that it’s missing the promised crispy parmesan and I’m so disappointed! I can imagine they’d offer some great texture and saltiness – plus the fact that I love cheese. It’s too far gone now for me to flag down a waiter, but I can’t help feeling like I’m missing out. Where’s my cheese???
Once I overcome the cheese disappointment, I allow myself to fall back in love with the rest of the dish.
The egg is crumbed and opens up to reveal a runny yellow yolk and spills out onto the plate and coats my wonderfully cooked mushrooms. Now they are the true stars of the dish; some crispy, others tenderly soft. They have that lovely mushroom meatiness that fresh produce can have, and the selection plus range of texture is all I could ever imagine as a perfect dish. The only downfall (besides my missing parmesan crisps) is that there’s too much parsley for my personal taste so I end up pushing most of it to the side since it’s an overpowering flavour compared to the delicacy of the mushrooms.
I love the mojo too, it’s zingy and fresh, and it binds together all the other elements. It’s a smaller dish than you’d have at other places for breakfast, but it’s enough for me and I finish my dish with a happy smile. Very delicious!
When we finish up our breakfast we decide to grab a couple baked goods to take away. Jeremy and I settle on a Filled Lamington ($4.50) and also another of those Chocolate Peanut Salted Caramel Tarts that I’d shared with Carly the week before.
Unfortunately after a day of travelling about, our tart didn’t seem to make it and the fragile creation seemed to burst apart! What a shame, but it seems this is one dessert you need to eat straight away. On the plus side, Jeremy’s filled lamington is light, fluffy and has just the right chocolate hit to each bite. A sweet note to finish our busy day!
All up, I liked Mary Street Bakery. I was expecting big things and though the price for serving size is less generous than breakfast at Cantina 663, the flavours are nice and the ingredients fresh. I can see this place being around for a long time.