If you know me at all, you knew this review was coming sooner or later, didn’t you? I mean, a brunch-centric cafe run by the lovely people from Chompsky – what’s not to love? Rosie and I headed across in their second week of service to see if it would live up to the Chompsky name. (Spoiler alert – it did!)
Arriving at around half past eleven on a Friday morning, we were lucky enough to have a choice of tables – if we had arrived half an hour later this would not have been the case! We were brought a jug of water immediately (a nice touch) and ordered hot drinks while we evaluated the menu offerings. Deciding what to have was not an easy task – everything sounds lovely, and it’s a joy to see a menu with no avocado in sight!
Eventually, we settled on the Breakfast Bao with crispy pork belly and the Haddock Kedgeree to share. The bao buns are a nod back to Gnom’s Chompsky roots, but they’ve here been refined to feature crispy, succulent pork belly, soy glaze and a fabulously umami and moreish gochujang ketchup. They’re topped with an egg which has been crispy fried to perfection, and served in a bamboo steamer for the full millennial aesthetic experience. The bao buns, fluffy as they ever were, are handily served in pairs, so Rosie and I were able to savour one each.
It’s no surprise that Gnom are putting their own stamp on even the most traditional of dishes, and the Haddock Kedgeree was the perfect example of this. Unctuous, creamy risotto was topped with a meaty portion of smoked haddock and a perfectly poached egg. The fish flaked at the lightest touch of a knife, and its smokiness was the perfect contrast to the silky risotto. The finishing touch, which really won me over, was the crispy fried kale which adorned the plate – simply delicious!
In the interests of a full, coherent review, we also ordered a French Toast Ice Cream Sandwich to share. Unfortunately, after a bit of a wait it became apparent our order had gotten lost so we had to chase it up. Hopefully this was just a slight teething issue, with staff coping with a very busy cafe in only the second week of service. Our choice of French toast was stuffed with lemon sherbet ice cream and accompanied by lime curd, berries and a black sesame brittle. The bread had been cooked until golden brown, and was filled with a very subtle ice cream – smooth and creamy, the lemon flavour was very subtle. The berries had been cooked down so that the juices had turned into a flavoursome liquor, but it was the lime curd which packed the biggest punch. Tart and tangy without being overly sweet, the curd was the winning ingredient of the dish for me. The sesame brittle wasn’t so much my cup of tea – whilst I appreciate the technical skill behind it, the strong sesame flavour just didn’t do it for me, especially on a dessert.
When we approached the counter to pay, I spotted the vibrant Rhubarb and Custard Tart on offer. Although I was stuffed to the brim, I knew this was right up mum’s street so I took a slice home to her. The pastry was thin and well cooked, and the custard filling rather nice, although not what we expected. On it’s own, it was a silky set custard with not much sweetness to it. This lent it well to the tart rhubarb topping, and meant the large slice wasn’t sickly.
So, Gnom lived up to expectations and delivered big flavours in a variety of forms. Unsurprisingly, I’m already planning my next visit – well, it would be wrong not to sample the rest of goodies on the menu!