Bianca: In the space of two years, Rhodes has gone from a virtual cafe no-mans land, to a cafe foodie destination. Thanks in part to my boys, Matt & Coco at Left of Field. Auvers Cafe was next to join the fold and now, Bare Witness.
I’ve developed a ridiculous obsession with pancakes and will travel far and wide for them but…some days, I will settle for French Toast and waffles. A catch up with ‘Angular’ from The Girls Who Ate the World saw us at Bare Witness for a mid-morning Friday brekky. The space is massive and a little on the cavernous side, overlooking the Parramatta River and the newly built Bennelong Bridge, the outlook is sunny and picturesque.
The French Toast -w/vanilla whipped ricotta, banana, chocolate & nut crumb, salted caramel w/ maple & seasonal berries $19 was RIGHT up my alley. I used to shy away from super heavy sweets in the morning but I have a new lease on life and that lease has glorious sweet fried things! There was a fair bit going on here but it mostly worked. The salted caramel smear was wasted on the side of the planet, a drizzle over the dish would have given it pops of salty bursts. The stems of the strawberries really should be removed, it just makes for an awkward eating experience! But the good….this dish was delicious! The French toast, crispy and soaked right through, absorbing all the flavour of the egg mixture. The sweet/sour combo of the maple syrup and blueberries was a masterful touch. Despite its flaws, one of the better French Toast’s I’ve had in Sydney.
The Mac & Cheese Benedict -w/poached eggs, bacon, mac & cheese, spinach, charred brioche & house-made hollandaise $ 19 was equally tasty but super heavy first thing in the morning. Not something I would be able to finish by myself. The eggs were poached perfectly, the spinach a welcome relief from the richness of the mac & cheese. I liked the use of the brioche opposed to normal bread, that hint of sweetness added a whole other dimension.
I returned twice in a two week period with the ball and chain. One day was a public holiday and they were extremely busy, so that may explain the poor service. Literally having to chase someone down for menus and to take our order.
I’m slowly trying to make my way through the menu and this time settled on Bernard’s public enemy number one. The Seasonal Avocado -w/heirloom tomatoes, goats cheese, herbs on charred sourdough $17 w/ added crispy bacon $4. Pretty much your stock standard avo on toast, there really wasn’t anything special to differentiate this dish from the 1000’s of cafes doing the exact same thing. I’m not the greatest fan of goats cheese but there wasn’t an option to substitute it for another type of cheese (which would have been my preference). And I found the avocado needed a good deal of seasoning.
Jules went with the Merguez Spicy Lamb Sausage -w/ romesco, pesto, avocado, goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, feferoni chilli, dukkah & a poached egg on sourdough $20. Great for those wanting a heartier start to the day, we loved the strong Mediterranean flavours of the sausage and the chilli dip. If I had any feedback, it would really be to re-think the cutlery. My biggest pet peeve is blunt knives and toasted bread. It’s a recipe for disaster!
I wasn’t quite expecting the Brisket Roll -w/slow cooked brisket, fried egg, tomato & chilli relish & sloppy slaw $15 to look like it did when it hit the table. There is no mention on the menu that the bun is charcoal, not that it was detrimental but it could be off-putting for some. When I think of ‘roll’ I was more thinking of a sub-style bread roll. Essentially this is a fried egg & slaw burger with a few strips of brisket. It was visually striking but the brisket wasn’t particularly memorable nor tender.
The Chicken & Waffles – w/southern fried chicken, double smoked bacon, gravy, apple & candied pecans $19 was a great cure to alleviate my lingering hangover from a previous big night. There’s a lot going for this dish, the waffle remained crisp with a nice sweetness. The chicken, juicy with a light breading. The combo of the chicken & smoked bacon worked extremely well together, perfect amount of gravy to add interest and some ‘lubrication’. The caramelised bursts from the candied pecans were a treat. I did, however, feel, this needed some sort of lightness, the apple was a genius way to add some sourness and cut through the heaviness but a few more slices wouldn’t have gone astray.
Coming into Spring, a new menu was unveiled and we were asked to provide some feedback on the new dishes. With the ordering out of our hands, I was looking forward to being surprised. First up was the Poke Bowl $21. If there was a dish that would epitomise summer, it would be this one. The salmon was beautifully cooked and well seasoned. Well balanced with fresh crispy fresh veg, brown rice and creamy avocado. I would probably have preferred less of the roe, visually striking but not really my cup of tea.
The Spiced Heirloom Cauliflower $19 is one of those quiet hero dishes. Pickled and roasted cauliflower adding a breadth of caramelised and sour notes. The chilli scrambled eggs had a good dose of spices and a muted heat. We really enjoyed the bursts of freshness from pomegranate seeds and the textural crunch of the crispy dried chickpeas.
The Pumpkin Bruschetta $18 had a lot going for it. Varying textures of pumpkin kept this interesting, we found the large cubes a little undercooked in the centre. The poached eggs adding some creaminess and the dukkah some crunch.
And the recent addition that had me rather excited. The Ricotta Hotcake $19 . A striking dish when it hit the table. A single pancake topped with fresh fruit, berry compote, and charcoal meringue. The flavours all work very well, I would probably omit the figs, they just never really work for me in this setting. A big standout was that charcoal meringue, so tasty. I passed on some feedback about the pancake itself, as it was rather dense and bordering on undercooked in the centre. Some refinements and this would be a pretty solid pancake dish.
Overall, across several visits, the food has been consistent. Some dishes have their flaws but there’s enough here to make it a reliable favourite.