9 Springfield Avenue
Potts Point, NSW 2011
Can you believe it’s been over a year since I’ve been on a brunch date with Chris, aka my other half? What with living in different cities for the majority of last year, and my always being too tired from/busy with study, going out for brunch became about as likely as me quitting medicine and going back to pharmacy. But finally, finally, the year was over, and we actually had some time and energy to go out on the weekend for a change. And seeing as we had business in Potts Point, Petrel Kitchen was where we headed.
Petrel Kitchen is the restaurant affiliated with the Springfield Lodges hotel, and about 90% of the café sits al fresco just in front of the entrance. That could be a problem in winter, but it is a complete delight in summer to sit outside, shaded by greenery, and enjoying the warmth in the air as the world goes by. The excellent playlist of classic hits is a bonus, and really adds to the mellow, chilled-out vibe.
The menu at Petrel Kitchen is enormous in both size and scope, spanning 6 pages and several continents with dishes as disparate as momos from Nepal, to paella from Spain. I’m usually dubious of restaurants that try to do too much at once, but with this being the first brunch date I’ve been on in so long, I was feeling optimistic, and decided to be excited, rather than worried by the variety.
My usual Skinny Flat White ($3.8, small) was reasonable but unremarkable. It was smooth, easy drinking, but lacked character. Meanwhile, Chris tried to order a juice… only to be told that they were out of fruit. What on earth was that??
The Petrel Oven Bake with Smoked Salmon ($21.5) sounded like a promising version of baked eggs, but the resulting dish both looked and tasted blander than I had expected. Despite the myriad of veggies listed on the menu, the bulk of the dish consisted of egg whites, instead of all the fried potatoes, mushrooms, and spinach that was promised. In addition, the smoked salmon was baked into the eggs, rather than served on top. This meant that the dish lost the indulgent silky texture and rich saltiness of raw smoked salmon, resulting in a muted flavour; it was definitely not the best way to showcase smoked salmon.
But it’s not all bad news. On account of not being served in the usual cast-iron pan, the eggs didn’t keep cooking at the table, and the result was 3 perfectly gooey egg yolks that oozed gold the moment I cut into them. The salmon was also generous in portion, and when you manage to get a bite of salmon, egg, and feta all in one go, the result was still pretty tasty.
Eschewing porridge for Cinnamon French Toast ($19.5), I was ready for a sugar hit to wrap up the meal. This was pretty as a picture, the thick, golden bread topped with berries, caramelised banana, streaky bacon, and drowned in syrup. Unfortunately this didn’t taste nearly as good as it looked. The French toast was dense, eggy, and not nearly crisp enough on the outside. The bacon leaned towards dry, and the berries were mushy enough for me to suspect that they were just recently defrosted. Just like the eggs, the flavours in the French toast just weren’t prominent enough; instead of a sugary treat with a pop of salt from the bacon, this was an odd in-between that failed to elicit the contrast that makes the sweet-and-salty combination so successful. I never thought I could be disappointed by French toast but alas, here we are.
Despite seeming so good on paper, and being backed up by good to very good reviews, Petrel Kitchen failed to deliver. The feeling I get is that the menu doesn’t quite know what it wants to do with itself, and so instead of being refined down to a few dishes that really mean business, offers up a smorgasbord of mediocrity. The service was also average at best, with someone asking us if we were ready to order 3 times within 5 minutes, before abandoning us altogether for the rest of the meal. Guess I should’ve heeded my gut-feeling about the menu after all, optimism be damned.
Rating: 12/20 – pretty on paper.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.