I heard a few whisperings on social media this week about a new cafe in Civic and the name drew my attention immediately. I initially thought 79&Fine was a reference to maybe someone who was 79 years old and still kicking, but as it turns out it’s actually a reference to The Hamptons and the weather often being reported as “79 (degrees Fahrenheit) and fine.” As you might have guessed, the cafe is styled Hamptons-esque. The menu has all sorts of tempting options like blueberry pancakes, burnt butter eggs, and lobster rolls!
A couple of friends and I went along on the weekend for brunch and I was so, so excited. We arrived and nabbed the last table, a beautiful spot in the courtyard. I was immediately impressed – even while being incredibly busy, it was still quiet and I could have an easy conversation with my friends. You don’t feel like you’re in the middle of Canberra at 79&Fine. It has an extremely relaxed vibe and because it’s tucked away from everything else it’s a really pleasant escape from the usual bustling nature of cafes in the capital.
When we arrived we were told straight away that there would be a bit of a wait on meals – 25 minutes or so. This was because there was only one chef in the kitchen, I think the other chef might have been unwell. We were fine with this, we were told up front and we had the day so no dramas there.
We were given menus and everyone bar me started pondering – I already had my heart set on the lobster roll. I’d pretty much been thinking about it for two days straight. The others ordered burnt butter eggs, full breakfast, and one more lobster roll. Because there was a wait on food we decided to grab a couple of cinnamon scrolls to keep us going until then. But let’s face it, if there wasn’t a wait on food we probably would have ordered a cinnamon scroll anyway because they looked so delicious. And yep, they lived up to our excitement. So good.
Our meals ended up taking a very long time to come out. We ordered coffees and juices (they do freshly squeezed juices – a big plus in my books, so many cafes only have bottled juice), and these came out really quickly. I think we probably waited maybe 45 minutes for our meals. While this is a long time I didn’t mind too much. I knew there was only one chef cooking for an entire cafe and being a new cafe I would allow for some teething problems. It was a lovely day and we had a nice quiet courtyard so besides being hungry I didn’t mind the wait.
When our meals came out we were a bit surprised. The lobster rolls were served in black squid ink rolls which gave them a bit of an unusual look. But it’s all about the taste right? I was starving and excited so I tucked in straight away. I hate to say it, but I really didn’t like the lobster roll. I will preface this by saying I’ve never had squid ink before so I’m not sure what a squid ink roll is meant to taste like, but the roll kind of tasted a bit stale. It had an unsual texture that I wasn’t a fan of. However, as I said, I’m not a squid ink expert so it could just be down to my personal preference – others may completely relish in this meal. I thought the lobster was a little chewy too and it was a bit tricky to eat without a knife and fork.
The burnt butter eggs and the full breakfast looked incredible though. Really beautifully presented and my friends gave the meals 10/10, not only in taste but value for money too. 79&Fine is really reasonably priced – the full breakfast is only $20.
Good service is hard to come by in Canberra, or anywhere really. However I can say that our waitress at 79&Fine was incredible. She had a really friendly manner, excellent knowledge of the menu, and she was apologetic of the wait on meals. She was constantly checking on us, bringing us new water jugs, clearing empty coffee cups, taking orders for new ones. It was really nice to have a waitress with such a bright, bubbly attitude – so often you get the grumpiest waitstaff that really aren’t interested in being at work. I forgot to ask this waitress her name but the name on our receipt is Paris. Such an asset to her workplace and I hope her bosses are proud of her.
Even though I was disappointed with my lobster roll, I would absolutely go back to 79&Fine. The other meals looked fantastic, the staff are excellent and it’s a lovely spot for brunch. I saw another table order the mushroom bruschetta as we were leaving – it’s what I’ve got my eye on for next time!
Where: 1 Hobart Place, Canberra (opposite the courts car park – look for the big yellow door!)
When: 6.30am-5.00pm (Mon-Fri), 7.00am-2.00pm (Sat-Sun)