Cafe with a little identity crisis
For many years this spot seemed vacant and I jokingly thought it was a front for some corrupt dealings until some signage went up earlier this year announcing Duke's Lounge was opening soon which made me pretty excited to find out what it was going to be. At first I thought a wine bar because of the name and then realised it seemed destined to be a cafe. After a few months a Thai menu for dinner was introduced so to be honest I thought it was starting to have an identity crisis and the owner was trying to be too many things and not focussed on being great at one thing. In addition their website promoted private functions and their passion for motorbikes is quite evident. Often I've noticed no one inside while other restaurants are very busy like the ever popular Java next door. I'm sure other locals walking past might just be as confused to work out what Duke's Lounge is or wants to be — perhaps Duke's Cafe would have been a more appropriate name? Also the decor and shopfront for me doesn't elude to thinking it's a Thai restaurant like say Tum Thai down the road.
With friends visiting for a weekend brunch and the website mentioning how passionate they are about coffee making I decided it was time to finally check it out. My Mocha ($4) was pretty good and not too far off the mark from the one I loved at Single Origin Roasters although just not as intense in flavour. The Cappuccino ($3.30) again decent and not bitter and reports of the Flat white ($3.30) by my barista friend were OK, although I noticed the coffee cups were perhaps on the small side. Eggs Benedict comes with a choice of ham ($11.50) or smoked salmon ($14.50), resting on turkish toast and topped with baby spinach and hollandaise sauce. Having the nice tasting sauce on the side helps control how heavy the dish will be in the end. The cardiac arrest looking Canadian Heartbreaker ($11.50) is a tower of 3 pikelets, layered with bacon, topped with fried egg and served with maple syrup — not for the light-hearted eater that's for sure. My Duke's Big Breakfast ($14.90) thankfully lives up to it's description. An assortment of bacon, sausage and choice of eggs, served with grilled tomato, mushrooms, baked beans, baby spinach and turkish toast. The only thing missing is a great hash brown like Baffi & Mo's. The turkish could have been more toasted, the sausage more moist and the bacon perhaps leaner and crispier but as far as big breakfasts go it'll leave you pretty satisfied and the eggs were perfectly poached.
Service was friendly and efficient and you get to watch your coffee being made in the middle of the cafe — although you'll hear everyone else's being made too. With the hotter weather approaching we did find the room a little warm which made it slightly uncomfortable and there didn't seem to be much air flow to keep the room cool. You'd certainly want there to be some fan action or air conditioning available if the weather got any hotter and the cafe became more crowded.
PROS: Passionate coffee makers, Classic breakfast dishes, Friendly and efficient service, Simple and clean seating
CONS: Gets a bit warm inside due to limited airflow, No outdoor seating, Fresh juices and fruit salad unavailable, Is it a cafe or a Thai restaurant — can it work as both?
MUST TRY: The Epic Bacon & Egg roll next time
Eggs Benedict with choice of ham (bacon substitued) or smoked salmon, resting on turkish toast and topped with baby spinach and hollandaise sauce ($11.50 or $14.50)
Eggs Benedict with choice of ham (chosen) or smoked salmon, resting on turkish toast and topped with baby spinach and hollandaise sauce ($11.50 or $14.50), sauce requested on the side
Canadian Heartbreaker: 3 pikelet tower, layered with bacon, topped with fried egg and served with maple syrup ($11.50)
Duke's Big Breakfast: Bacon, sausage and choice of eggs (poached), served with grilled tomato, mushrooms, baked beans, baby spinach and turkish toast ($14.90)
Poached eggs for the Duke's Big Breakfast nearly forgotten and arrived after
Menus — you don't often see Pad Thai spelt Pud Thai?
A passion for bikes
Simple and clean seating
Epic Bacon & Egg Roll hopefully next time