After confessing my brunch addiction to a long-time running mentor (Conway), I was prescribed a visit to Lox, Stock & Barrel, a deli diner located 15 minutes from Bondi Beach.
My brunch company consisted the misses plus three new recruits: newly-made parents Nick and Christine plus a chubby 3 month bundle of joy.
No secret that the best group dining experience comes when (i) food is good, (ii) there is lots of it, and (iii) every one else at the table has tiny appetites. Going in, I knew a tick on all three was nigh impossible.
The concept is to combine a New York deli plus a health-food cafe. Think multiple species of bagels with strange fillings (e.g. what is ‘smoked lox’?) plus brunch staples that feature lots of veggies and gluten-free options. Hipsters are drawn to this.
It sort of works by drawing upon two cards: the love of decadent sandwiches or alternatively, the desire to eat healthy but yummy food.
Bowlarama – sprouted quinoa toast, picked vegetables, avocado with miso dressing – $18
Nick and I go for the healthiest option, ‘bowlarama‘. $18 is very steep, but happy to invest if it’s a dish I can’t replicate. So what is it like eating ‘sprouted quinoa toast’? Try eating a super dense, nutty version of seeded bread but being charged an extra 75c every bite you take. Pleasure and pain at the same time.
The dish is so tasty on all accounts. Flavours are rampant through an assortment of crazy pickled veggies and creamy avocado which is then complimented by a sweet and salty miso dressing. I prefer my eggs poached longer – the yolk oozed all over my fingers and face.
Zucchini omelette with almond, spinach, parmesan & jalapenos – $17
Lorie’s zucchini omelette was a surprising outperformer. She is certainly not gluten-phobic and chose a really dense and strongly tasting onion bagel as the accompaniment. I rate this omelette the best I’ve had in recent memory and it was lifted by the fluffy texture and salty kick from the jalapenos.
Christine takes the cake for the fail order … ancient grain granola. Offering a standard nut-based granola and labeling oats as ‘ancient’ is insulting enough. Serve it in a petri-sized dish and charging $13 is a kick in the teeth.
(Not so) Ancient grain granola with yogurt – $13
Positive was the crunch and a granola-to-yogurt ratio that was ‘spot on’ (Nick’s words). You are still way better off buying off-the-shelf granola from the supermarket and unashamedly eating it straight from the box. Within 20 seconds of being served, Christine got food envy and ordered the same zucchini omelette.
It is a disappointment that the cafe falls down on only one hurdle. My summary is below.
Food (♦♦♦♦♦) – granola-aside, big tick for perfectly executed and unique dishes that cater for many taste buds.
Value (♦♦♦) – most items too overpriced. Partial offset by mostly good portions and ingredient differentiation.
Other (♦♦♦♦) – staff OK but barely worth mentioning. Red ink for 28 min from order to service.
Overall (♦♦♦♦) – Yummy food and generous portions trumps $$$, bad traffic and shirtless guys walking down the street.
Lox Stock & Barrel truly has a unique menu and the lunch and dinner menu looks equally exciting. I’d certainly do a repeat visit (maybe the bagels). Consensus view amongst the group? Best brunch year-to-date and a must try!
Big thumbs up from the guys!