Pumping home of the buzzy breakfast

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IT was the morning before Canberra’s 100th birthday and Mo?an & Green Grout, a compact and eclectic café (in every sense of the word) was pumping.

The line-up at this NewActon eatery was noticeably long when I passed the entrance to find a car park but, hey, it was a big day in the nation’s capital.

Mo?an & Green Grout is a destination for those who like a buzzy breakfast. It describes itself as a “café with a conscience”, doing all the right things such as growing herbs and veggies, composting and supporting local producers.

Choku Bai Jo Heirloom tomato, Buffalo Mozzarela with olive dust
Choku Bai Jo Heirloom tomato, Buffalo Mozzarela with olive dust. Photo by Silas Brown.
What I love is the feeling that you’re sitting in someone’s home, smack in the middle of their kitchen. Indeed, the dark-green marble bench table is half for clients chowing down and half for chefs cooking up a storm… so very communal. And I approve of the hooks for ladies’ bags (no woman enjoys tossing her bag on a café or bar floor).

Sitting on shelves are well-used cookbooks, scales and “odds and sods”. Blocks of wood form a feature wall, on which hangs a roll of brown paper recording specials. But enough of the décor. Let’s taste the food.

The breakfast menu is smallish but super interesting. I was going to do a “my-body-is-my-temple” breakfast and have rose-scented Granola, rhubarb and yoghurt ($9), but that wasn’t meant to be. When I walked inside, I smelled heavenly chorizo being cooked and so ordered that with fried, free-range eggs ($16). My breakfast plate was adorned with two small mounds of piped, creamy avo and a small amount of corn sprinkled about – the effort to plate up nicely noted. The chorizo had kick and the eggs were cooked “just so”.

Wapengo Lake oysters with spiced fennel. Photo by Silas Brown
Wapengo Lake oysters with spiced fennel. Photo by Silas Brown
My friend went for the smoked salmon loaded on top of a proper bagel, tarted up with whipped lemon ricotta and salty capers ($9). Another dish that would have made my taste buds dance was the Tripoli baked eggs with hummus, spiced radish and yoghurt ($15). If you want something small, Mo?an & Green Grout offers organic pastries.

While I loved the delicate leaf pattern on my cappuccino, I can’t say it was even close to one of the best I’ve had, lacking in depth and flavour, but I tip my hat to Mo?an & Green Grout for serving fair trade coffee. I also tip my hat for the free wi-fi.

One real concern was overall congestion, especially for those sitting on seats low to the ground. I was on tenterhooks waiting for rushed staff to trip or spill a hot coffee. Work on better spacing and flow would serve the place well.

Mo?an & Green Grout. Open seven days and some evenings,19 Marcus Clarke St, 6162 2909.

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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