Following the phenomenal success of Room Ten, the cult breakfast café in Potts Point, the team have opened up Pina just across the laneway at Llankelly Place. The menu at Pina is different although thematically there's an overlap and there are plans to open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Pina and Room Ten's married owners Andrew Hardjasudarma (Bourke Street Bakery and Aria) and Yuvi Thu make quite a team. She's the chef who has switched from restaurants (Bistro Moncur, Sopra, Mr. Wong and ACME) to café life. Between them and their unflappable team they serve up delicious breakfasts and lunches to around 1,500 people a day.
Mr NQN and I are meeting at Pina with Laura, a Room Ten regular. We are waiting for a table. Space at Pina (housed in the former Orwell's) is as hotly contested as a Surry Hills apartment. Andrew explains the name Pina, "Piña (pi-nya) means pineapple. Pineapple is the symbol of hospitality or any event and pineapple always becomes the centrepiece for any fruit decoration."
I start with a chai latte while Mr NQN has a long black. Both are excellent. We also try the plum iced tea, a floral number a generous curl of lemon sorbet that is at the same time refreshing, sweet and balanced.
The soup of the day changes and if you're lucky, it might be chicken congee. The silky congee is topped generously with fried shallots, onions, wood ear fungus mushrooms and chicken and there's seasoned fish sauce and chilli on the side as well as slices of toast with Pepe Saya butter just to cover all breakfast bases.
Everyone is talking about the bacon and egg roll and it is indeed a thing of beauty. We've run out of space on our table so they bring a stool for our roll which serves as a pedestal so we can examine this beauty.
The bacon and egg roll is a soft potato bun, melting cheddar cheese, plenty of bacon, harissa, aioli and a fried egg. Divine and it's also an absolute steal at $12.
The cannellini beans come with kale, pecorino and toast with Pepe Saya butter and make for a nourishing, satisfying vegetarian breakfast but add an egg for sunniness and goodness.
The clotted cream porridge isn't overly creamy, this is a surprise for us because we had expected an intensely creamy porridge because of the clotted cream. There is stewed rhubarb and pear on top with chopped pistachios giving it a tangy, light flavour rather than a rich, creamy wintry porridge we were expecting.
Laura and I go back the following Friday because while we love salads and other things, sandwiches are both our passion, especially during winter. We both also adore a chicken sandwich. "Should we order four things?" I ask Laura and she gives me a look that reads, "Of course! Why do you even ask?".
At first glance the chicken sandwich looks like mostly salad on a bap roll. But you've got to trust them not to deliver a boring sandwich. The floury bap is warm and filled with salad, chillies, mayonnaise and chicken slices. It's like a banh mi on a square bap bun and it is SO good that I think about this sandwich for the next few days wishing I lived within their delivery area.
The soup of the day is a spiced curry lentil soup with a nice depth of flavour and spices and plenty of dark roasted cauliflower on top. It comes with slices of toast with butter and is nourishing, warming and tasty. I particularly like it when cauliflower is roasted so dark to bring out its sweetness.
We try another special because I know how much Laura loves ocean trout. It's an open faced toasted bagel topped with hot smoked ocean trout, dill and pickles and pickled shallots. Make sure to ask for a wedge of lemon to squeeze on top of this to really bring it together (we used the lemon from the soup above).
I adore Room Ten's mushroom toastie and Laura and I both hone in on the cheese toastie at the same time. It has leek béchamel, gruyere and provolone cheeses and is oozy perfection. Can I say what a clever idea leek bechamel is? Next time I need to make a béchamel I'm absolutely adding leek. This is gooey, delicious and crunchy delicious. And I'm already thinking of my next visit.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you ever over order just to try more? What makes your favourite breakfast place your favourite?
These meals were independently paid for.
29 Orwell St, Shop 4, Potts Point, NSW 2011
Open Friday 7am-3pm
Saturday and Sunday 8am-3pm