March 31, 2015

Shouk Cafe | Paddington

Shakshuka - baked eggs

The Jackson - big breakfast

The Latke - potato stack

Challah French Toast

LONG TIME NO BLOG. It’s been what? More than a year since my last blog entry; it’s been an eventful past year, new job and re-location – hence the non-existent blogging of food (although I’m still active on instagram). Mind you though, I’ve still been constantly breakfasting, I’ve just been busy lazy. Anyhow, for the next few posts I plan to post up, some of them are quite recent and some will be backtracking a bit.

Shouk café is a neat café tucked in a corner in Paddington, with a breakfast theme of Middle-Eastern inspired. It’s quite deceiving appearance wise. Like most housing and stores in the Paddington area, the front of the shop appears quite narrow and short in space, but as you go towards to the back it sprawls out into a nice open space.

The mister and I visited this place twice, first time we went we ordered the Shakshuka (baked eggs) and The Jackson (aka Big Breakfast). The baked eggs were served out on a really hot shallow clay dish, served with toasted challah. Challah looked similar to a brioche bun – but after asking Dr Google, found that it’s bread that doesn’t use any dairy, milk or butter in the making of it, compared to brioche, which does. I suppose it explains the texture, still light and a little on the drier side, and didn’t have the same density and texture as brioche. Not necessarily a bad thing, it was just different. It did however complement the baked eggs well, which was rich with the combination of the tomato sauce, olives and feta. A delicious savoury combination. We opted to add the merguez sausage that was a little extra, but not a regrettable choice at all.

The big breakfast, I think, can speak for itself. It was definitely substantial, a very suitable choice for those who want a hearty breakfast. The standouts in the big breakfast were the latke – which is very much a potato pancake (not quite as deep-fried as a hash-brown), the pickled red onions, and the garlic butter braised kale. The latke was crispy on the outside and delicious potato-y goodness on the inside. I really liked it because it’s not as deep fried and oily as a traditional hash brown, and also didn’t lack in terms of taste at all - sometimes with deep friend goods all you taste is the oil. The other two sides, the pickled onions and garlic butter kale just added that extra something to the meal! If anything it balanced out the meat/carbs flavours part, and prevented the meal from becoming to “heavy” in flavours (given that majority of the meal was carbs and meats).

Our second trip back consisted of the Latke stack and the Challah French Toast. The presentation of both was definitely a treat to the eyes. The Latke stack – potato pancakes stacked with cream, dill, pickled red onions, two poached eggs, and our request of haloumi which they actually layered into the stack! I mean come on, lightly deep fried potato and haloumi? The combination was genius.

The Challah French Toast was beautifully presented and consisted of Challah soaked in a spiced egg mixture and served with candied walnuts, balsamic maserated berries and a vanilla-pistachio semmifreddo (aka a frozen wedge of ice cream – as pictured). I think unfortunately to say, it definitely looked better than it tasted. The actual French toast itself was probably the disappointing part of the dish – the egg mixture didn’t soak all the way through the bread which resulted with the outside being cooked in mixture and majority of the content of the middle of the bread inside remain as… well… fresh bread. So in that it was disappointing. Perhaps it’s to do with the choice of Challah bread as opposed to regular bread? I’m not sure if that’s the intention to have it like that but I guess I’m use to, and prefer, having French toast that is fried on the outside and cooked through in the middle. The ice cream and candied walnuts on the other hand was super. It’s not every day you get a huge wedge of ice cream on your plate for breakfast.  Aside from the actual toast – the combinations of the candied walnut for the extra crunch was delicious along with the tartness of the berries and the savoury sweetness of the pistachio ice cream.

Definitely a place to re-visit, there are still a few items on the menu we are eyeing to try! This place is a must if you're the kind of person who is after a heartier sort of breakfast selections. Also, not to mention, they do get busy, so if you go during busy periods, expect a wait. They do take names and numbers if you wish to come back - if anything they are quite prompt with that!

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