Sometimes when it’s brunch time you just long for something different. Sure don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t want to put down a stellar eggs benny or scrambled eggs cooked to perfection but there can be much more to brunch than that. And if you’re looking for a brunch with a different spin then on your list absolutely must be Artichoke Cafe & Bar – because at its heart is a menu infused with flavours of Spain, Morroco, the Middle East and Greece. Yes this is a brunch spot after my own heart.
I discovered Artichoke when it came on the scene about a year ago and loved it. Having revisited it 12 months down the line I have to say I love it just as much, if not more, because the food it just as fantastic as it was in those first days of its youthful flush. But be warned this is not food that’s just knocked out – there’s a 30 minute wait (which at least you are advised of upfront) so come prepared.
Artichoke is tucked away amid the cobbled courtyard of Sculpture Square off Middle Road and set back from the buzz of Bugis. It’s a perfectly chill setting whether you choose to sit inside in the bright and airy interior…
or languish outside in the courtyard…
The menu here reads like a wonderful journey across exotic lands – it’s creative and inspiring and pretty difficult to put your stick in the sand with just one dish because it’s all just so intriguing and mouth-watering.
The absolute show stopper of the menu for me is still the Lamb Shakshouka ($25), a traditional breakfast meal in the Middle East of eggs baked in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, homemade labneh (yogurt cheese), onions, pistachio dukka and a variety of rich spices. But the reason why I’m so smitten with this heavenly version is that – quite obviously from it’s name- it contains lamb. This is one substantial, sunny, stew-like dish, bursting with rich flavours that you won’t want to miss out on.
I’m somewhat of a haloumi nut and so dived in without hesitation to the Haloumi & Mushrooms ($18) – beloved squeaky halmoui cheese pan-cooked just-so, piled upon a bed of ciabatta, rocket, soft avocado and fiendishly good local organic mushrooms. A great combination of flavours and textures on a plate.
The Ful ($16), was a wonderfully comforting mesh of fava bean stew, eggs, pickles and sesame served up with pita. It’s easy to see why this is Egypt’s national dish eaten at all times of the day because it’s healthy, delicious and probably the ultimate Arabic comfort food. Be sure to mop mop mop that bowl dry!
If like me you want to have your cake and eat it with haloumi or whatever, you can also order items like the organic mushrooms, haloumi, spicy chicken sausage or sweet glazed bacon chop for around $6-8 per item. Not ever being able to get enough of haloumi we ordered some extra…
and for those that like things extra spicy a cheeky chicken sausage on the side is a must…it’s also great for dipping into the sauces of the various dishes, particularly the Shakshousha and Ful !
If you’re feeling like a bit of indulgence drink up a glass of their refreshing organic Cava because at only $9 a glass it would be rude not to. Or swap the alcohol for caffeine because their coffee is rather nice and mellow.
Artichoke Cafe is definitely one of my favourite places for a delicious and different brunch and clearly I’m not the only one an this place gets busy at weekends so make sure you make a reservation to avoid disappointment or potential hunger rage.
So if you haven’t already, take your palate on a journey away from the brunch norm and to the land of vibrant flavours and exotic lands. You needn’t travel far – it’s all at Artichoke.