Chatterbox Espresso Bar – Redux

26 Jan

My review of one of Belconnen’s breakfast/brunch locations Chatterbox was one of my most read posts in 2014. But I have mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, I’m so pleased that it’s been of such interest to people, and I know my recommendations about Chatterbox – on social media generally, and also through the review – have encouraged people to get along, and inevitably they keep heading back after they experience it for themselves.

On the other hand, it’s taught me just how a review in the first few weeks of a cafe opening can quickly become inaccurate, and I cringe re-reading parts of it. The review talks about how the avocado isn’t particularly generous and the potato is a little stodgy, but soon after I posted the review, owner Charlie took that feedback on board: for a year now the avo helpings have been enormous, and the potato rosti is one of the most popular orders.

And while I’m overly picky in that first post, for all of 2014 Chatterbox has consistently been our go-to. In fact, anytime I suggest we go elsewhere I get a look from Boyfriend and usually a declaration at the end of the other establishment’s meal that it wasn’t as good as Chatterbox and why do we even bother trying elsewhere?

So, a year later, it feels time to re-review.

From experience I can tell you that Chatterbox is always very busy, edging to packed on a weekend, but nothing is ever too hard – new tables which extend into other areas of the space always materialise even when you feel you must certainly be about to be turned away. Today’s no different: I’d love to sit outside to take advantage of the sunny weather which is said to get a little more unpredictable over the rest of the weekend, but I can see there’s no table available. Charlie greets us and he knows there’s a table about to leave; in less than a minute we’re seated with menus and water.

The menu has recently been updated. The thing about Chatterbox is that the serving sizes are enormous, and often more than I can fit in (and there’s no doubt I have a healthy appetite). In part due to FOMO and/or indecision, Boyfriend and I usually order one dish each and split them which is easily done. But the menu now gives you the option for a smaller ‘half’ serving (cheaper) or a larger one for some items – a welcome addition.

Large-sized coffees come in big, colourful mugs with sides of tiny biscuits, and are hot without being scalding. My chai latte has generous sprinkles of cinnamon.

Our orders are out soon after. My pumpkin omelette ($15.90, no half size) is sauced by onion jam within it, and thick drops of feta on the omelette and through its accompanying rocket. The omelette’s key feature is thick chunks of roast pumpkin which is largely consistent with crisp edges and almost molten middles, but some are a bit undercooked on the inside (I expect this will be rectified before this post is even published!). It wouldn’t stop me from ordering it again.

Loathe to break with usual custom (and because I really love the smashed avo ($11 for half, $15.90 for full serve) a LOT), we do the old share-swap which works well with an omelette (it’s usually with eggs bene!). Still, it’s a shame to split up a dish which looks as bright and fresh as this:

The avo has just the right amount of seasoning to ensure its flavours are the star without being drowned out and the eggs, well…

Almost every dish at Chatterbox has a poached egg, so they’ve got to do them quickly and do them well. And they consistently do. Even with the time it takes to snap pictures and share Boyfriend’s half the yolk remains oozy, perfectly cooked.

Both dishes are served with thick toasts of sourdough with butter drizzled through. They are value for money dishes; hard to finish even with a big appetite.

It’s easy to see why a cafe has so many regulars, being friendly and so accommodating, with consistent and flavoursome dishes. (Boyfriend’s asked me to stress his opinion in full: “It’s the best breakfast anywhere in Canberra”). It’s our go to for visitors and catch-ups – from my parents (who had never had sushi train before, remember), to Boyfriend’s, to Belco friends and coffee dates – and was a non-negotiable stop for our Human Brochure weekend.

Date: Saturday, 24 January 2015

Where: Chandler Street/Cameron Avenue (old Tax building), Belconnen Town Centre

Cost: Under $50 for two breakfasts, two large coffees, and two small coffees

Value for money: High

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile

Want more? Check out their Facebook page. PS>> if you need a post-breakfast treat, you can’t go past the choc-peppermint or salted caramel biscuit at the payment counter from Babic Biscuiteers. Trust me on this one!

Chatterbox Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon



6 Responses to “Chatterbox Espresso Bar – Redux”

  1. Claire January 27, 2015 at 8:43 am #

    I must say, this is my go-to for my daily morning coffee. The level of customer service is undoubtedly the best you will get in Belconnen – the staff are so smiley and kind, the turnaround time between ordering and picking up my coffee is extraordinarily quick given the huge volume of customers.

  2. Erin January 27, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

    Yum! I’ve only ever been to Chatterbox once, but I loved the Smashed Avo. Now I know they do half sizes (perfect for my post-surgery tummy), I’ll definitely make the trip over more often.

  3. champagnecole January 28, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

    I think it’s great that you are re-reviewing:) It sounds like a great place and I have huge respect for business owners that are respectful of reviews and use them to improve the business.


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