Breakfast at The Elk and Pea

15 Jan

If the epitome of success is a packed restaurant at 11am on Canberra’s hottest day of the year, even when that restaurant’s air conditioning isn’t working, then Elk and Pea is already pretty darn successful.

I’m not sure if I’m cool enough for Lonsdale Street these days, but the buzz around Elk and Pea makes it the obvious breakfast choice after a morning kayaking on Lake Burley Griffin. Despite the lack of air conditioning (barely offset by a few hardworking but ineffective fans), it’s packed out, and despite there only being two of us, only a corner of the awkward supersized table in the middle of the room is available. We hoist ourselves onto the funky but uncomfortable high chairs.

Menus are produced with a flourish, and it’s a genuinely enjoyable read. You can get your day off to a particular kind of start with an espresso tequila martini or Bloody Mary, and berocca’s on the menu too (spice things up and have your berocca with soda water! the menu urges). The most expensive item on the breakfast menu is the suitably named Grande (eggs, bacon, mushroom, chorizo, black beans, spinach and sourdough for $20) but most of the menu ranges between $12 and $17. It seems everything which comes with sour dough has a gluten free option instead (for an extra $1). I opt for the $15.5 paprika spiced eggs (poached eggs, paprika butter, chorizo, whipped yoghurt and flaked almonds on sourdough) while boyfriend’s won over with the smashed avocado and thyme butter shrooms (which, for $17, also comes with marinated feta, torn basil and a poached egg on sourdough).

I order my  usual tomato juice and Boyfriend orders a coffee, but to our surprise it’s our meals which zoom out of the kitchen first, not even five minutes after our order is taken (giving me barely any time to take some sneaky pics!).

It’s difficult to know just how much avocado has been used for Boyfriend’s dish, but there’s a LOT of avo there. While it looks unseasoned, salt and pepper is within reach on the table. He enjoys it very much, and I’m a bit jealous.

2013-01-05 10.43.18

My meal… baffles me. Instead of the eggs arriving on the toast as advertised, they neighbour the toast in a deep bowl. They’re sitting in a bit of oil, which I presume is the melted paprika butter. It looks great, and with hindsight I realise that it’s probably all about presentation – if the meal wasn’t in the bowl, it wouldn’t look pretty. However, the fact remains that I really don’t know what to do with it. Do I dip my toast into the bowl? Do I pick up the bowl and spoon it over the toast? Why is the bowl so big and deep? Eventually I man up and just attack it – cutting my toast into bite sized pieces and mashing the bowl’s contents onto them. It does taste amazing, and it’s incredibly filling.

What to do?

What to do?

But, where’s my tomato juice? The coffee has long since arrived and no one seems to be making any effort or to have noticed that I’ve been without my drink order for a considerable amount of time. I eventually catch a swift-moving staff member and it appears soon after in a supersized glass with plenty of ice – excellent. (There’s nothing worse than tiny cups of juice with no ice on a hot day.)



The staff do keep a watchful eye on our water glasses, and ensure they’re regularly filled, for which we’re grateful. There’s also plenty to take in while we consume our meals – elk heads on the walls, a peacock above us, prints on the roof, and the open, busy kitchen.

Well, hello there.

Well, hello there.

Doesn't really do it justice.

Doesn’t really do it justice.

It’s a simple matter of paying the fairly reasonably $39 at the counter, before we step out into the searing heat.

BUT, I have to end this review with a plea – a plea to everyone who serves breakfast, not just Elk and Pea. The toast that you serve is ridiculously hard to cut. I know sourdough is the main culprit here (and it’s damn tasty) but there have been others. And yet, all we get to respond to the challenge they pose are butter knives. While I derive some sort of weird pleasure knowing I’ve worked hard for the pleasure of the meal, too often I see pieces of toast flung across the table once they’re finally cut away due to the sheer force and effort involved.  That, or all dining skills go out the window as we try to pull the bread into bite sized pieces, rather than cut. This isn’t a plea to stop serving sourdough toast, but to provide us with the right utensils. Our dining dignity is at stake!

No more butter knives!

No more butter knives!

Date: Saturday, 5 January

Attendees: T1 and Boyfriend

Where: Lonsdale Street, Braddon

Cost: $39 (tomato juice + coffee + paprika spiced eggs + avocado and thyme butter shrooms)

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile

Want more? The Elk and Pea is open for breakfast from 8am (it’s also open for lunch, dinner and drinks). Their website is a little lacking. Try their Twitter or Facebook pages.

The Elk & Pea on Urbanspoon


18 Responses to “Breakfast at The Elk and Pea”

  1. Gary Lum January 15, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

    Hear hear, I agree with your toast plea. Rather the plea for better knives. Great post T1 🙂

    • inthetaratory January 15, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

      So, so glad to hear you agree Gary. We need to start something! Maybe a #nobutterknives hashtag on Twitter?

      • Gary Lum January 15, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

        It can be part of the #likecanberra campaign 🙂

  2. Kylie Harris January 15, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

    Is that a real peacock?!

  3. Rachi January 17, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    Hi T1, I just came across your amazing blog! Just wanted to say I had the same dish as you few weeks ago; your eggs are sitting on a nice amount of oil, mine was drowning in it! Photo evidence here
    I was a bit underwhelmed by my experience but I might give them another chance; the smashed avo dish looks pretty good!

    • inthetaratory January 17, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

      Oh, I love your review! And now will spend hours trawling your blog 😀 Some great photos there. Agree with you completely about restaurants not making their menu available online – it’s a must! My dish still had a lot of oil – I found it very surprising – but yes, yours does look like it’s swimming! I’m very keen to hear what they’re like at night.


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