You can still get the magical pulled pork sandwich or a breakfast fry-up (the Full Harvest) here. But tempting as those options are, I saw the words ‘pork belly’ on the new autumn menu, and that was me done.
Two chunky slabs of succulent pork belly with crunchy crackling I wanted all to myself, two poached eggs, a bed of juicy, bright green spinach, sweet red seedless grapes with slightly puckered skins, all sitting on glossy squid ink and anchovy sauce. This is not your typical neighbourhood cafe fare. The slick pool may call to mind the Exxon Valdez spill and its blackness may even be unappetising to some, but eat it all together and enjoy the harmony of flavours. And oh, that superb crackling. This indulgent dish is something special.
Bubble and squeak is usually a home cook’s one pan solution for using up old veggies, and it’s been taken to an exquisite level. Again, it’s an enticing combo of textures – two bursty poached eggs, a crumbed potato cake, a sweet potato crisp, and a medley of cubed vegetables (farce) on a thick creamy smear of golden pumpkin puree that I immediately longed to dip my finger into. It’s more intricately constructed than any bubble and squeak I’ve ever encountered, but most importantly, it’s delicious and a pleasure to eat.
Given the choice, I never order poached eggs, but if that’s how they come on a dish that is otherwise appealing, I want them just like these, with soft, flowing yolks.
To wash it all down, we ordered two tall glasses of Fresh Red – iced Rooibos tea with cloudy apple juice. A nice change to coffee, and very refreshing.
No tarts on the counter but it looked as appetising as ever, with freshly baked mini loaves of banana bread, chocolate croissants and muffins, and a selection of vegan raw sweet treats from Raw by Chris. On the shelf at the back, crusty house-baked loaves of bread available for purchase – sourdough, rye, multigrain and fruit loaf.
I’ve mentioned before this is a tiny pocket of a cafe, not the place to manouvere your deluxe model two-seater three-wheeler pram. There are tables outside, but I’ve never been a fan of dining on the pavement – I always feel that outside tables give you a very different dining experience with the atmosphere of the street, not the establishment you’re paying for.
Harvest Espresso’s menu fits on an A5 page and with each new season, grows bolder and more sophisticated, with original creations that make this compact cafe a stand-out on the ever-expanding Vic Park cappuccino strip.
You can get a classic almond croissant or eggs on toast here if that’s all you feel like, but for me, pork belly for breakfast: big fat YES.
Harvest Espresso (Facebook page)
629 Albany Hwy
Victoria Park WA 6100
Telephone: (08) 9355 5884
Open Tuesday to Sunday 7am to 4pm