It’s an iron law of the restaurant trade that we eat with our eyes. Don’t try it. Been there, done that. Worst vindaloo ever.
But obviously, we want food to look good. We also want the place we eat to be inviting. That’s why restaurants spend small and not-so-small fortunes making their establishments homely, be it hatted restaurants or a cafe where you grab your morning coffee, bacon and egg roll, and post-roll mid-morning muffin.
A cosy environment makes the dining experience more enjoyable and more memorable. And it sure beats curry in your cornea.
No one seems to have told any of this to the owners of Plumb in Fyshwick.
Warm? Not really.
Inviting? You’re stretching. Three for three! And yet …
Best brekkie spot in Canberra? It’s got to be close. But you wouldn’t know it looking from the street.
For a start, it’s in Fyshwick, perfectly situated across the road from a power substation. And the name – Plumb – and the location suggests it sells, you know, pipes and whatever else plumbers use. Money-counting machines?
But it wouldn’t be the type of place that would sell to the public – they’d sell serious trade, wholesale stuff, and be haughty about it when you try to buy that thing that goes on the whats-it … you know the thing! Even the building has that vibe.
But forget all that, bite the bullet, cast aside doubt. Just go.
It’s across the road from Domayne, so pop in when you’re waiting for your interest-free credit application to be approved (don’t worry, it will be). Grab a coffee – Veneziano, very nice – and enjoy the template for what a great Big Breakfast should be.
For a start, it hits the price point. The Plumb Big Brekkie is $24 and you get the soon-to-be-mandated seven items: bacon, eggs your way, miso mushrooms, hash browns (yes, plural!), chorizo, roast tomato, Sonoma sourdough.
It’s a rare thing when vegetables are the star of a great breakfast; after all, they’re only there to fill some space and assuage your guilt that you’re eating half a pound of bacon and whatever the hell is in a chorizo (no emails, please, it’s best not to know, as Bismarck observed), but the miso mushies and smashingly seasoned tomatoes are killer, not filler.
Of course, we don’t just eat with our eyes. We also want good service. Another big tick.
Order the Plumb Big Brekkie and you get a small bowl of salt and pepper; order smashed avo (not on the menu, but they accommodated) and you’ll get fresh lemon.
OK, OK, seasoning and lemon is no big deal. Agreed. So why is the offer so rare? Unless you’re ordering dry white toast, four whole fried chickens and a Coke from Aretha Franklin, bring butter! Please! Seriously, when did butter become a luxury item? Are we rationing so we can invade Normandy?
The point is, you shouldn’t have to ask. It’s the thought that counts, and the waitresses at Plumb thought to ask, so, as a customer, you aren’t left waving your arm like you’re hailing a cab in a storm to get the basics.
And the toast was on the side. Happiness.
Bottom line: Plumb should not work as a cafe. At all. The location is absurd. It’s utilitarian to the point of sterile, which, oddly, is reassuring in these pandemic times. It’s also spotless. Enter the large glass doors and you can see into the (also) spotless kitchen. It has little atmosphere.
It’s as though practically no effort has been made to play to our senses beyond the plate – like it was done to win a bet. But who cares? It doesn’t matter. They won the bet. And when you serve a breakfast as consistently great as this, you don’t need tricks – the food does the talking.
The Big Breakfast basics: Bacon, eggs your way, miso mushrooms, hash browns, chorizo, roast tomato, Sonoma sourdough.
Extras: Free-range eggs, free-range bacon, chorizo, smashed avocado, hash brown, button mushrooms, smoked salmon, fries.
Toast on the side: Yes. Sinoma bread.
Service: Table service (and excellent).
Plumb on Tennant is located at Unit 1, 5 Tennant St, Fyshwick. It’s open 7 am to 3 pm weekdays (3 pm to 6 pm for tapas on Fridays), and from 8 am to 2 pm on weekends.