This week Adelaide Food Central was invited to check out the hot new Unley Road breakfast/brunch/lunch spot Phoenix on Unley. On the corner of Unley Road and Wattle Street the floor to ceiling windows make this café a perfect people watching venue. What sets Phoenix apart is its top quality ingredients including their own bacon made from Howie Hill farm at McLaren Flat. You can tell the difference – it’s less processed which comes across in texture and taste. It is rustic, less salty and for lack of a better word it tastes “porkier”. Phoenix also makes their own cheese curd and I will let you in on the secret of their eggs shortly.
We started our meal spectacularly with Poached Eggs on Smoked Ham Hock. This is hands down one of the best breakfasts I have ever had. That’s a big call but when I take into consideration the uniqueness of this dish and the quality of the eggs it’s easily up there. Phoenix uses Solar Eggs, produced in South Australia from roaming chooks. Every time I cut into a poached egg I have everything crossed, hoping that an oozy, runny yolk comes streaming out. Sadly, more often than not I am disappointed. On this occasion a silky, vibrant orange yolk came bursting out like sunshine on the plate. Now with eggs colour = flavour and these were nothing short of exceptional. It’s going to be a struggle now to accept anything less. Along with the perfect eggs, were chunks of smoked ham hock, delicious and a little more exciting that standard breakfast meats. The ham was mixed in with a ‘cavelo nero hash’ which was a mix of large fried potato cubes, peas and strands of the leaf still robust throughout. All combined it was a wonderful breakfast but Phoenix took it one step further by adding a mustard fraiche and warm piccalilli which brought an acidic component, the mustard tying beautifully back to the ham hock.
Don’t let the name fool you, Junior’s Pan Fried Reuben is man sized. Look at all those layers of corned beef! It has all the essential components of a classic Reuben; melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, rye bread and in this case thinly sliced corned brisket. The slices of rye bread are fried golden and taste buttery. The cabbage is lightly pickled; I would have liked it to be a little stronger to cut through the layers of meat. The Russian dressing was a little lacking; I was craving a little more tang and moisture to go with the delightfully melted cheese.
Taking inspiration from America’s Deep South, the Phoenix Po Boy delivers a magnificent fried chicken sandwich. Encased in a sweet brioche roll that is generously slathered in cream cheese, there are 2 components that make this sandwich stand out. A bold chipotle aioli that doesn’t shy away from spice and heat and crunchy deep fried chicken that would easily sell by the bucket (has someone already thought of that?) The succulent thigh fillets are coated in a complex, spicy batter that is cooked to crispy perfection. Crunchy, fresh iceberg lettuce and a few smashed corn chips add more texture and extra crunch. I’d go back for this sandwich any day.
For those after something sweet we tried 2 options. Dutch Fruit Loaf with poached baby pears, vanilla mascarpone and citrus syrup. Sliced thick, the bread retained a soft, moist inside while the outside was nicely toasted. Flavours of raisin and cinnamon in the fruit loaf were complemented by poached baby pears that retained bite and were not overly sweet. The dish was finished with a marmalade inspired citrus syrup that was sticky, sweet and bitter and a lashing of vanilla mascarpone.
There are some people who simply must have pancakes for breakfast and Phoenix will tempt you with their Pancakes with Maple Parfait, but be warned: this is an adult’s only brekkie. 2 decent sized pancakes are crispy and golden on the outside and fluffy inside. A maple flavoured parfait introduces the classic pairing of maple and pancake in a unique way. Candied hazelnuts add delicious crunch, sweetness and texture but it’s the cognac chocolate sauce that is the hero of the dish; a smooth, shiny, velvety, sauce that packs a boozy punch. The cognac is strong, but I’d rather that than an underwhelming hint of liquor. It’s definitely a decadent start to the day.
We thoroughly enjoyed or brunch. I for one am going to become a regular to keep having those perfect eggs. There is so much more on the menu to explore and specials that entice.
Phoenix on Unley is open daily from 7am to 4pm with extended hours on Friday’s til 7pm.
Words by Kate Wilkinson
WHERE: 227 Unley Rd, Malvern