Review: Two Before Ten Cafe

by The Editor

The drizzling rain made for a wet ride into the city. Somehow, I don’t think my arrival is going to be as elegant as The Canberran might have hoped. On this dreary winter morning I was in search of a recently revamped venue – Two Before Ten.

Formerly Enter Café, owner and operator Jarrod Deaton has tried to build on what was a fairly competent venue, this time offering a more bespoke feel with the help of passionate contributions from near and afar.

Settling in to the corner of the café, I’ve got a good view across a small coffee roaster (apparently due to be replaced with a larger appliance before too long) towards the counter.  It’s early so there are only a couple of other punters scattered among the tables.  There’s me, an older gent reading a paper from the long bench in the middle of the room, and the staff.  It’s worth mentioning the staff.  The boys and girls have a laid back kind of cool without being pretentious.  Also, they are all rather good looking.  Let’s face it; hired eye candy never hurt anyone – customer or proprietor.

Given my wet and shivering state, I’m worried I’ll slam down a coffee without taking time to enjoy it, so ask for a green to accompany my food order (poached free range eggs with oven roasted tomato and pesto on sourdough $12.50).  The pot arrives quickly and even though my tea hasn’t steeped, pouring some of the liquid into the cup gives me something warm to cling on to.

Reflecting as feeling returns to my fingers, its clear most of the furnishings here are bespoke.  A bright orange light fitting attracts my attention, with an organic feels contrasting with the industrial feel of other fittings.  As it turns out, the stools and the light are made by local designers and, along with various commissioned furnishings throughout the café, create a surprisingly varied though cohesive environment.

The food arrives, and it’s certainly a treat for the eyes.  Two poached eggs lathered with pesto sit on a couple of slices of sourdough . To the side, underneath some grilled tomato, is the field mushroom.  It’s massive, however the plate looks like the perfect dose of comfort food on a rainy day.  My tea is ready.  The ensemble is complete.  Time to dig in.

Firstly, for connoisseurs of green tea, the flavour is light without a hint of tannin.  The meal lives up to the standard of the presentation.  The eggs yolks are runny and rich.  The pesto not too overpowering, the grilled tomato… grilled and ‘tomoatoey’ in perfect balance.  Only when I begin attacking the mushroom do things go awry.

It’s simply too much.  It’s woody favour would be a fitting counterpoint to the egg and tomato only if the bread was not present.  After towo or three mouthfuls I feel as though I might as well gnaw on one of the fabulous stools decorating the café.  Suddenly breakfast has become overwhelming and disappointing. Such a shame really.

That said, I’m probably still grumpy and cold.  All told, Two Before ten has a menu full of flavour and value.  Just to test the waters I purchase a latte before heading back into the weather and discover its preparation received as much love all other aspects of the café.  In the city, one would struggle to find another venue with as much originality, passion and care as this one.  In a town frequently let down by its cafes, we should be grateful Two Before Ten is there.

Download The Canberran Report Card – Two Before Ten