Weekend breakfast/brunch has almost become a ritual for Kat and I. We once went on for a period of time without this happening and it felt like it had been MONTHS since we'd last seen each other. We then worked out it had only been 2 weeks. Last weekend, we set the date for breakfast at Pompidou on Saturday morning.
I always try to pick cafes around what I think of as Eastern Brisbane when I'm going to visit mum and dad afterwards. There are tonnes of good eating places around Bulimba and Hawthorne and that's what I gravitate towards. Geographically, it's not that smart because they're really just a stone's throw away from being inner city suburbs and never as close to Carindale as I picture in my mind.
I picked Pompidou for that above, flawed reason but also because their breakfast menu online sounded amazing. I eat breakfast out quite often so it takes a bit to impress me but everything I was reading was interesting and appetizing. Like Champ Kitchen, there is a section of 'light start' breakfast items, which features simple dishes and then there's the 'Pompidou breakfast classics' of more creative choices, which appealed.
When we arrived, I could see that they were already very busy but the cafe has an expansive seating area and we got a table without dramas. There's indoor and outdoor seating and a doorway that lead to another room (probably with more tables but I didn't go exploring).
I ordered a latte and Kat, the banana smoothie. I know that waiting on food in busy cafes is often unavoidable and is one of the costs of picking a popular spot. However, I expect my coffee to arrive within a reasonable time frame because that's what keeps us going until food. My coffee took a loonnnng time to arrive.
Kat's smoothie didn't come at the same time. In fact, the wait on her smoothie was so long that she was able to change her order when I was already nearly finished with my coffee because they hadn't even started to make it yet. Kat ended up trying their hot chocolate instead, which also took a long time but did finally appear.
It was another huge wait before we got our food. Kat was feeling very tense about it. I think I'm very patient when it comes to restaurants (unless I'm starving or it's meant to be fast food) but on this occasion, even I was getting antsy about the wait. We were 2 girls, the best of friends, with over a week's worth of heavy gossip to exchange, yet we were running out of topics before the food got to us.
Home made banana bread - toasted and served with blueberry butter
At long last, 2 plates headed our way. Kat had been sick all week so she just ordered the banana bread with blueberry butter. It came as 2 huge slices, slightly toasted. I tried a bit. I really wanted to like it because I was impressed by the large serving size. It was OK but I thought the loaf was too damp/sticky in an undercooked way, not in a good way.
Close-up of banana bread
Kat didn't make the same observation about the dampness but I eat a lot of banana bread. I'm not rediculously picky with it but I did notice that as a textural problem. Giving credit where it's due, the blueberry butter was lovely.
Chickpea and carrot pancakes - with hummus, labnah, wilted spinach, chorizo and poached egg
My order was something I'd been eyeing off on the menu since I first saw it online: the chickpea and carrot pancakes. It was served with hummus and labna, which ever since I've made myself, realized I really enjoy. The pancakes also had a liberal amount of sliced chorizo and a poached egg sitting on top. I would say this is a substantial breakfast covering all bases of carbs, protein and a bit of green in the form of spinach.
Close-up shot of poached egg on pancake
The flavors are subtly Middle-Eastern inspired but not overly spicy or anything too heavy for breakafst. I didn't mind the pancakes but they weren't amazing. The problem is you have soft pancakes, mushy hummus and labna and squishy egg. There's a crunchy/hardness factor missing (normally provided by toast) that the chorizo alone couldn't achieve. It wasn't awful but it wasn't what I was hoping for either.
When we finished our meals, we were running a bit late because of how long our orders took. We tried to speed up the paying process by lining up to pay at the counter and save them the effort of bringing us the bill (also because it was getting hectic and we couldn't attract the attention of any waiters). After standing in the queue for a bit, another customer in line said to us (rather snappily) that this wasn't a queue for paying and that they were waiting to order takeaway so we should sit back down again because it was supposed to be table service. I know that Pompidou cannot be held accountable for another customer's impoliteness so I don't blame them for that at all but it sounded like someone else's patience was wearing thin. Or they could have just been rude/in a bad mood.
We awkwardly returned to our table, which was being cleared. Luckily, this meant that a waitress was there so we were able to ask for the bill. The next thing that happened was so hilarious I made a special effort to write it down so I wouldn't forget. The waitress said "ok", walked away a few steps and came back to say "there's probably going to be a wait on that". I've never been warned of potential delays in my ability to PAY for food. It was like I'd asked her for a favor but really I just wanted to give them money and get the hell out.
After our unexpectedly long breakfast, I made it home just in time to go out for lunch with mum and dad. That should give you an idea of how long we were stuck at Pompidou for. It wasn't just the waiting... as I said, I am normally not impatient because food is also a social activity and it's nice to have time to chat. It was the fact that even our drinks took forever, the waitstaff all seemed frenzied and inattentive and the food wasn't amazing enough to justify it all. It's a shame because the cafe is gorgeous and the menu still enticing but I won't be going back to try any of the other dishes.